To attract an employer and impress them, your CV needs to be easy to read, relevant and concise. Although everybody’s CVs are different, they should all follow these simple rules, which will help anyone on their way to a successful career.
For help creating an effective CV format for students, read on for some advice.
CV format: things to keep in mind
A CV will change depending on what role you’re applying for what industry you want to work in and what experience you have. We recommend changing and tailoring your CV for every application. Even though each CV is unique, there are a number of rules to follow that apply to them all. Here’s what you should include in your CV for a UK employer:
- keep it short. An effective CV is usually no longer than two pages. CVs for academic posts (applied to by PhD students) are usually longer
- focus on your most relevant experience. For example, if you’re writing a CV for an engineering job, include all your experiences with engineering
- use a tidy layout. Include clear section headings, enough spacing and a font that's not too big or too small. Also use consistent formatting
- use reverse chronological order when writing down your education and work experience so it’s easy to read and understand
- choose a professional font such as Arial or Calibri
- use bullet points. Bullet points help readers to focus on each point you’re making, putting focus on key facts
- include your contact details such as a telephone number, address, email address and link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one)
- use a professional email. If you haven’t already, make a new email account using your name and include it in your contact details
- if you’re including references, include at least two. You can also simple add ‘references available on request’
- include transferable skills. You might be writing a CV for a finance role, but you previously worked in a retail sales position. You’ll be able to focus on the finance-related skills in that job to show you’ve had related experience and developed skills that can be used in multiple roles
- include the skills and knowledge you gained if you’ve completed volunteer experience, an internship or a work placement. Employers like to see what activities you have been involved in and the practical skills you've gained from outside of your studies
CVs are important to learn how to create and you’ve got to learn what things employers don’t like to see in them.
CV format: things to avoid
An unprofessional CV makes being invited for an interview a lot less likely. Here are our top tips for things to avoid in a CV format for students applying for jobs in the UK:
- don’t include irrelevant information. An employer doesn’t need to know about the first time you won a school swimming competition. If the information you include doesn’t relate to the job or your skills in some way, remove it. However, if any experience has a direct link to the job or a transferable skill, you should include it
- avoid including too much information. Your CV is meant to be concise, so only include what’s important. Also, it’s a good idea to save personal information for an interview, such as other activities or projects you’ve been involved with, which will impress employers even more. Focus the CV on the role you’re applying for - this will help keep it short and accurate
- don’t include a picture of yourself. This isn’t a common practice in the UK.
- don’t include your age or date of birth as it’s illegal for UK employers to ask for this
- don’t change the format of your CV in different sections. A consistent look helps keep readers on the page
- don’t lie, exaggerate or use anyone else’s experience. This won’t help you at all. It’s best to simply focus on what you’ve done personally and be honest about it
Through following these rules, you’ll be able to avoid all the wrong choices when it comes to writing a CV. But it doesn’t stop here, we’ve got even more tips for you.
More top tips for creating a CV
These tips will help you when creating your CV. They’re very important, so why not bookmark this page to read whenever you need it?
- remember to proofread your work. Proofreading will help you discover any mistakes, spelling or grammar errors so that you can create an accurate CV
- introduce each section with a bold heading so that employers know what that section will include and can easily go back to them. You can also do this for your previous job titles to make them stand out
- don’t get stressed if you feel you have no relevant experience. If this is the case, focus on your transferable skills from your education or any extra-curricular activities
- use digits instead of words for numbers as you’ll be able to save on space
- ask the Careers Service, another student or even a lecturer to read it for you. Having another person read your CV will help you to discover issues you may have missed
- link it to your cover letter. Most job applications require you to write a cover letter, a letter which accompanies your CV. It includes why you want to work at a certain job and why you’re suitable for the position, as well as your motivation for working there
- don’t forget to save the file every 15 minutes. This makes it easy to go back to if you’re working on other things and keeps it safe in your hard drive
Creating a CV is a very important part of getting ready for work during or after university, but what else can you do to increase your chances of getting a graduate job?
Explore the introduction to CVs, cover letters and interviews
If you’re interested in being the most prepared when it comes to searching for a job, download our ‘Getting Work Ready’ guide. It’s a brilliant resource for students that includes helpful information on many things job-related, such as writing a CV to attending an interview. It even includes information on building your own personal brand.
Click the link below for your copy.