What is a CV?

A CV is a document used when applying for jobs. Through this, you can summarise your education, skills and experience which allows you to sell your abilities to potential employers.

How long should a CV be?

Generally, a CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. However, there are occasions where a shorter or longer format is acceptable. A graduate might only use one side of A4 as they’ll have minimal experience. Someone applying for a high level job might use a three page CV to show they have both the experience and skills for the role.

To make sure that your CV stays short and concise, be ruthless with editing. Only put in relevant information and don’t repeat yourself. A good way to edit your CV is to go through it and highlight any information that doesn’t sell you. You could also remove any information that isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying to or summarise old job details.

What should you include in your CV?

Contact details

Make sure to include your full name, home address, mobile and email. You don’t need to add your date of birth or a picture of yourself.


Your CV profile is where you’ll begin selling yourself. It’s a concise statement that highlights key attributes and helps you stand out from the crowd.  This is usually at the beginning of your CV and is how the employer will get a feel of your personality and goals. Keep this part at a maximum of 100 words to make sure you stay short and snappy.


Here you need to list and date your education history, including any professional qualifications. Order these in date order, from oldest to newest and include the qualification type, the grades you got and the year you achieved them.

Work Experience

List your work experience in reverse date order, with your most recent employer at the start. Make sure you include your job title, the name of the company, how long you were with the organisation and your key responsibilities.


Generic interests such as ‘socialising’, ‘going to the cinema’ and ‘reading’ won’t catch recruiters attention. Interests that are relevant and show who you are, will be more likely to win over recruiters and make your CV standout. If you don’t feel your hobbies or interests are relevant, you can leave this part out.


At this stage, you do not need to include the names of your references. If you want to, you can add that ‘references available upon request’ if you want to but most employers would assume this so you can leave it out.

 How to format your CV

Don’t title your CV

Let your name be the title.

Add subheadings

This will break your CV into sections and make it easier to read. Make sure they are slightly larger than the main text (size 14 if you’re writing in size 12 font) so that recruiters can scan the sections they’re most interested in.

Pick your font carefully

Use fonts that look professional are clear and easy to read. Examples of these are Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. Use font size 10, 11 or 12 and ensure the whole document is the same font and font size, other than your headings and subheadings.

List everything from least to most recent

This means that the recruiter sees your work history and most recent achievements at the start.

Keep it concise

use bullet points and clear spacing to utilise space and make it easy for recruiters to skim.

Give the document a name

when saving the document, name it Jane-Smith-CV so that it identifies you and the contents of the document.

Save in a PDF format

Unless the job advert states differently, save your CV in a PDF format to ensure it can be opened on any machine.

Print your CV on white A4 paper

It’s rare that you’ll need to print your CV but if you do, make sure you print it on single sided, white A4 paper. Don’t fold or crease your CV once printed, remember this is a professional document.

How to write a good CV

Use active Verbs – Include words like ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and ‘devised’ to show you’re a person who uses their initiative.

Use spell check – There’s nothing worse than a CV that has both spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure that you use spell check and ask someone else to review your CV before sending it off. If you don’t have someone to review it, print the document off and read it aloud to check that it reads well.

Research for your CV – if there’s a particular company you’re applying with, you can tailor your CV for them. Look on their website and social media to see if there’s anything you can include on your CV, such as volunteer work or hobbies/interests.

Make it professional – Remember this is a professional document so you need to show you’re professional.  If you don’t have a professional email, create one for your CV.

Don’t lie or exaggerate – You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with a company by showing them that you’re not trustworthy. Be honest and have confidence that your skills and experience will be enough.