Skip to main content

How to write a CV

What is a CV?

A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé), is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience.

They may be used for a variety of reasons, however, the most common of these is to send to prospective employers when looking for a new job.

Many employers will ask you to send your CV when you apply for a job. You can also send it to employers who have not yet advertised a vacancy.

Employers receive many CVs for their vacancies and they tend to glance over CVs quickly, so your CV needs to be eye catching and interesting. You will have to sell yourself.

Your CV should be:

  • well designed and presented
  • word processed
  • a maximum of two sides of A4
  • concise, to the point, and factual
  • targeted at the job description

Employers are usually looking for particular skills or personal qualities, such as the ability to use IT, good communication skills, ability to use initiative, organisational skills, flexibility, teamwork and the ability to cope with pressure. When applying for positions, pick out the skills required and demonstrate that you have them.

Employment agencies such as have information on their websites to help school leavers, including CV and covering letter templates (opens a new window)

In your CV, the following should be included:

Personal Details

Full name, address, telephone number and date of birth.


Include keyboard skills with speeds, knowledge of software packages; any languages that you can speak etc.

Education and Qualifications

If you’re a recent school leaver, place emphasis on your GCSEs, A levels, or any other accomplishments you’ve achieved whilst you were in education.

As most roles you apply for won’t be looking for much direct work experience, this is a great way to help sell yourself for a role. A pass in Maths and English is essential for many jobs, so be sure to include these.

List the subjects you studied and your grades, but think about less detailed descriptions if you’re not sure they’re your strongest selling point. This will also allow more space for other experience e.g. part time/summer jobs that directly relate to the role you’re applying for.

Work Experience

Include full time, holiday and part time work, paid and voluntary.

For each job include the name of the employer, dates, job title and duties, responsibilities and involvement (listed in reverse chronological order – with the most recent coming first)

Interests and Activities

While your CV tells the story of your qualifications and your career, the hobbies and interest section reveals a little more of your personality.
For example,  sporting, music, drama clubs, societies. exchange visits, voluntary work, computers.  Indicate your level of achievement, positions of responsibility and involvement.  Expand on interests. Just ‘reading’ is not enough, you need to say what type of books you enjoy. Mention any foreign travel.  Highlight any initiatives you have taken.

Remember that employers often like applicants who can show evidence of team involvement.

Additional Information:

For example, full driving license.


What are references?

To put it simply, references are people employers can ask to vouch for your character. Whereas your CV is your chance to sell yourself to employers, references allow them to check that you’ve been truthful in all that you’ve said, and therefore live up to expectations. They may also be used to learn more about how you interacted with staff at the company.

 Who should I ask to be my references?   

Former bosses or work colleagues all make good references. Employers are most interested in gaining an unbiased view of your personality, work ethic and performance. For this reason, friends and family members should generally be avoided. No matter how professional your relationship with your mum is.

Young people who don’t have much in the way of work experience could ask a form tutor, former teacher or professor.

The key is to ask people you trust, and those who you can count on to be positive about your contributions.