How writing a good CV can help you succeed in applying for a job

Preparing a good CV is an important part of the job searching process and need not be complicated or difficult.  By following some basic principles you can enhance your chances of being selected for interview and hopefully secure that job. 

Make it personal

No two CV's should be the same!  Each CV will be different for each person as we all have different skills and experience that need to be communicated with those reading your CV for the first time.  There is no perfect template, but try to have a prepared CV that you can tailor to meet the needs of the job you are applying for, emphasising the key points required.

Easy on the eye

Overall, a CV should be easy on the eye, neat and typed if possible. Most libraries now have public computers, if you do not have your own.

It should also be short, we advise 2 – 3 pages of A4 where possible. It should be positive, stressing achievements and strengths, and make a good impression in a clear and positive way.  Spelling is really important, so use spellchecker or ask someone to check your CV for any errors before you send it.If you write in block capitals, then mistakes will not be highlighted. Do not fill your CV with unnecessary information that will turn potential employers off!

The basics

The basic format for a CV includes:

  • Personal details, including name, address, phone number, email address and possibly any professional social media presence. You no longer need to include your date of birth, owing to age discrimination rules
  • A personal profile which sells yourself and your qualities, tailored towards the job you are applying for.  Keep this punchy and interesting.  Think of it as a tweet about you!
  • Achievements from Career history, starting with your most recent job first. Include dates and temporary or voluntary jobs if appropriateprevious jobs that are relevant
  • Qualifications and training from previous jobs, with the most recent first
  • Interests, if they are relevant and especially if the skills or teamwork concerned are relevant for the job
  • Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history, such as caring duties
  • References, ideally two or more and including a recent employer


  • Do ask someone you trust to read through your CV to check it makes sense
  • Do include your contact details and have a professional email address where you can be contacted.  Avoid the use of offensive and inappropriate email addresses, funny with your friends but not so funny with potential employers
  • Do include your academic and professional qualifications
  • Do make the initial part of your CV attractive to the reader as this is likely to want them to continue reading
  • Do mention your skills that make you stand out from the crowd
  • Do try to write your CV to meet the requirements of the job you are applying for


  • Don't include a photograph unless asked to do so
  • Don't write your CV in block capitals as this will not identify spelling mistakes
  • Don't provide unnecessary personal information such as divorced, married, children's details etc.
  • Don't include confidential information such as your NI number