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In brief

Illustration of 3 CVs

A CV is a document that provides a summary of your achievements in your education, experience, and any other information. The purpose of this document is to is to showcase your knowledge, skills, and capabilities for the prospective recruiters to assess your suitability for the opportunity you are applying for.

Creating a good CV takes time and effort, and the process is never really finished. You need to keep revising your CV to keep your information up to date and reassess its content in the light of how your experience and plans change. A CV should also be tailored to the specific opportunity you are applying for. It is important to showcase the most relevant experiences and skills that align with the requirements of the position being applied for. By highlighting specific accomplishments, coursework research projects, internships, or other experiences, a targeted CV demonstrates the candidate’s suitability for the specific opportunity and increases their chances of being considered as a strong candidate.

In depth: guide to CVs

General Guidance

Employers typically dedicate limited time to reviewing application documents, and often utilise Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) for initial screening. Given these constraints, crafting a compelling CV becomes imperative. Although there is no universal template, following fundamental guidelines significantly enhances the potential for your CV to make a positive and lasting impact.


  • Use a clear modern font to make it easier to read. The recommended choice is Calibri in size 11; while size 10 is acceptable, refrain from using any smaller font, as it may compromise readability.

  • Aim for clarity of presentation, style and format. Make sure the layout is consistent so if you are going have your sub-headings in capitals and the dates on the right-hand side, then make sure this is all the way through your CV.
  • Make sure your sections are in reverse chronological order (with the most recent experience at the top and the oldest at the bottom).
  • Convert your CV into a PDF with a professional title like your full name and not ‘my cv’ or ‘CV final version’.
  • Use headings to separate the different sections.
  • Use bullet points and action words as well as facts and figures to detail your experience and make it easy to see the skills you have developed and the impact you have had.
  • Use the vocabulary of the industry you wish to enter without resorting to jargon or abbreviation.
  • Always keep your CV in the third person (never use ‘I’ or ‘me’). Use positive active and positive words to describe your responsibilities and avoid using phrases like ‘I had to…’ or ‘I think I can…’.


  • Don’t list the skills the recruiters are looking for, embed them into your education and experience section.
  • Avoid using cliche statements.
  • Avoid repetition and unnecessary words.
  • Avoid writing paragraphs – use snappy and concise bullet points.
  • Don’t distance yourself by using phrases such ‘I helped to..’, ‘I was involved in…’
  • Check for spelling and grammar – make sure it is UK English if you are applying for position in the UK. If you use another country’s English, The ATS system may flag your CV with spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • For UK CVs, you shouldn’t include date of birth, marital status, gender, nationality, or a photograph.
  • Too sparse/too long – you need to give the reader enough information so they can understand what you can offer.
  • Avoid using tables and text boxes – some ATS systems are not able to detect any content within a table and/or text box.
  • Use the bold function for headings or sub heading but don’t highlight everything in bold as it will lose it impact.
  • Its best to keep it in black and while and not use colours (this also includes logos and graphics) unless you’re applying for opportunities in the creative industries.