Review CV and Cover Letter information in Step 2
A CV is a marketing tool to present your skills, qualifications and experiences to potential employers.
Your CV should be concise, well-structured, up-to-date, and relevant to the organisation or role that you’re applying to.
You need to tailor your CV
The most effective CVs are tailored to the specific role and organisation that you’re applying to. This ensures that the recruiter or employer reading it can easily imagine you in that role. When it comes to CVs, one size does not fit all.
The advice on this page is only a guide and there is more than one way to do a CV - make sure you are selling the best version of yourself as appropriate to any role and employer you approach.
Before you start
Find out as much as you can about the job role you are applying for and highlight key points to cover; the job description or person specification will usually detail these:
- Required qualifications
- Required or desired skills and knowledge
- Any experience requirements
If this is not possible (eg. if you are making a speculative application) refer to the job profiles on the Prospects website (www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles) which give general requirements for various job roles.
Remember: All experience counts. Many roles will give you skills that can transfer to many different roles. Use these to your advantage
Deciding on a CV Style
A common CV style that goes through each section in reverse chronological order - your most recent qualifications and job roles are listed first to give them more focus and attention. This style of CV is useful to demonstrate a variety of experience and is the one you will most likely use.
A specialised style of CV which focuses on the specific skills employers are looking for, using these skills as headings to demonstrate you relevant experience. This requires matching skill headings to those the employer is looking for. This skills section fills at least your first page and the remainder of your CV can be used to briefly explain your education, employment dates and descriptions. This style of CV is useful when applying for positions not directly linked to previous job roles.
In most cases, a reverse chronological CV is preferable for a student or graduate
Format and layout
Unless instructed otherwise by the employer, your CV should be no more than two sides of A4 sized paper. Your CV should be concise, but also shouldn’t have too much empty space. Be creative with formatting.
Fonts should be clear and professional - think Verdana or Arial instead of Comic Sans. Font size 11 is ideal, anything smaller can be difficult to read.
Avoid using colours on text other than headings, and unless appropriate for the job you are applying for (for example, Graphic Designer), avoid using images or tables. If you are going for creative roles, however, you may want to use this space to display some of your skills.
Horizontal rules, bullet points, and headings are a useful way of presenting information clearly. If you decide to use any of these, they should be used consistently throughout your CV.
Ensure all text is lined up or in columns and that spelling and grammar is correct.
You should not provide the details of referees until requested. Simply write ‘References available on request’ at the end of your CV.
You should have two referees arranged, one should ideally be your current or previous employer, and one can be an academic or personal reference such as a lecturer or a senior member of a club you are involved with. Ensure to ask for permission before providing their details.
Make final checks
Check your CV against the job specifications and description. Have you met every requirement, providing evidence and examples?
If you need some extra help, give your CV a boost by reviewing our CV Builder video. We recommend doing this to help you build up your CV before visiting us with your CV in the Careers & Employability Centre.
Find the CV Builder on the 'My Careers' tab on Blackboard
What to include
This template assumes you are making a Chronological CV, but the methodology used to build each section can be applied to other kinds of CVs as well.
1. Personal Details
Keep this section brief and include:
You do not need to include a photo, date of birth, nationality, gender, relationship status, religion or the word ‘CV’.
11 Fake St, Lincoln LN6 7TS | Mobile: 0711 111 1111 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Personal Profile
Your personal profile is a space to highlight the qualities and skills that are most important to the employer and the role you are applying for. Write in the third person and between three to five lines is recommended. Include your key strengths, as applicable to the role and evidence these with an example.
A high achieving Business and Finance BA (Hons) graduate from the University of Lincoln. A thorough understanding of the accounting and finance sectors, a passion for well-crafted marketing campaigns and strong communication skills will help 123 AccountingFinance reach new audiences and maintain relationships with current clients
For a student or graduate CV you will usually place your Education above Work Experience as this is the most recent and relevant experience that you will have. Consider how your degree has prepared you for work.
UNIVERSITY OF LINCOLN - Lincoln, UK
LINCOLN COLLEGE - Lincoln, UK
Work and other relevant experience
Evidence is key: you may have communication skills, but you'll need to prove it by giving an example of how you have used them to assist you in a work situation. Keep sentences short, relevant and in third person (eg. 'This role involved...' rather than 'I was responsible for....'). Use professional and technical language, including positive sounding verbs and phrases with key words from the employer's role requirements.
DEJUNER ACCOUNTING - Lincoln, UK
BANKING, INVESTMENT AND TRADING SOCIETY - University of Lincoln, UK
Additional Experience & Achievements
LINCOLN AWARD - University of Lincoln, UK
PRIMARK - Lincoln, UK
References Provided Upon Request
Get this article, along with advice on covering letters and our Word Bank, as a PDF.
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