This is the second post in our series which will be responding to your careers questions. If you haven’t checked it out already have a read of our first post ‘What work experience do I need & how do I get it?’


Our second careers question post comes from Kendel, a second year English student who asked us ‘How do I write a great CV?’ Read on for our tips and advice or check out our infographic at the bottom of the post.

Writing a good CV can be one of the toughest challenges of job hunting. Most employers spend just a few seconds scanning each CV before sticking it in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile. Harsh.

But never fear! We’ve compiled our Top 6 tips on how to show the world ‘this is me!’ and get that all-important interview. 

1.Tailor your CV for each opportunity you apply for – Know your industry

We’ve all done it.  Fired out the same CV to lots of employers to save time… Stop! Take the time to change your CV for each role you apply for. Work out EXACTLY what skills you should point out to them. This will make the life of the person responsible for reading the applications so much easier. As well as making yourself stand out from the crowd, the employer will appreciate the obvious effort.

Read the job description / person specification to find out the following:

  • What qualifications are needed?
  • What experience is required?
  • What skills do they require? How can you demonstrate these?

2.Undertake an audit of your skills

Knowing yourself and the skills you have to offer is key to help you tailor your CV for each application you make. What have you previously done and how can you demonstrate all of the requirements you have identified on the job description and person specification?

  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Extracurricular – sports, student rep, etc.
  • Volunteering
  • Online presence – blogs, online portfolio etc.

3.Market yourself clearly

Choose your order wisely. There is no right or wrong order to put things on your CV. Consider what would be the first thing you would tell your intended audience if you were to sit in front of them? This is the order we would recommend you put your CV in.

Would it be your education, previous experience or relevant experience? What is going to make the most impact and encourage the employer to keep reading?

  • Your CV is a marketing document
  • It needs to be persuasive and positive
  • It needs to be targeted

4.Demonstrate your skills effectively

Talking about the skills you have gained or used rather than duties you undertook in a role will have a greater impact on the reader.  Keep in mind the skills they are looking for in the job advert and person specification and make sure these are the things you highlight.

If you think about the duties in your role, what skills did you gain and what impact did you have? Use bullet points to highlight your skills. A good way to write can be as follows:

  • Verb – No need to write full sentences or start each one with ‘I’

Use strong active verbs eg: Managed, implemented, sourced etc.

  • Action – Keep detail short and snappy

Context about the environment or task

  • Value – Why are you a better fit because of this?

Point where you bring in skills and behaviours

5.Think about the impact your actions have had.  Did it make the company more money? Did it increase sales? Keep brand loyalty? Raise awareness? Make sure you tell them how what you did added value

You only need a couple of bullet points for each experience and there is no need to repeat the same skill twice in two different places.

This is your time to shine and show the employer exactly what you have to offer, and how your skills match what they are looking for.

6.Have a good visual style

It is really important that your CV is easy to read. Avoid using templates that you have found online. If you have found them, others will have too, which could result in your CV looking identical to some someone else’s. And on that note, don’t copy from your friends. Make sure your CV is unique to you. A few more tips:

  • No photograph – This is not standard practice in the UK and only really applies if you are applying for modelling or acting work.
  • Size 11 or 12 font.
  • Use headings and sub-headings and choose the name of these wisely – help the employer find this information quickly.
  • Spelling and grammar are important especially if “Excellent attention to detail” is mentioned in the person specification as a core competency.
  • 2 Sides is the norm for CVs. Sometimes an employer may request a one page CV. In this instance you have to be very selective about what you include and how you present the information – prioritisation here is key.

7.Finally does it pass the 30 second test?

  • Most employers will spend 30 seconds or less (7 seconds in some cases) reading the CV.
  • What information is essential to the reader, what they are looking for and what can be left out?
  • Make sure you prioritise the most important bits you want to get across to your reader first in order for them to keep reading.

 You can find more advice on CVs and applications on Canvas – just select your course under ‘College of Arts and Law’ and then click ‘Making applications’ from the homepage of the course.

Or if you would prefer you can come along to one of our Apply Yourself Workshops, details of what is running and when can be found here.

– Tanya-Louise Rose, Applications Adviser, College of Arts and Law


How to write a great CV infographic.jpg