Let’s start with this video by our careers counsellor Seb about writing your CV (curriculum vitae):
As Seb says, if you’re looking for a job in the UK, you need to know how to write a CV that convinces employers to hire you.
A CV summarises your experience, education, and skills. Employers use CVs to quickly assess your qualifications and how you compare to the other people who applied for the job. So it’s important to include the right information and format that information in an appropriate way — like this copy-and-paste CV template that guides you through writing a CV does:
07123 456-789 | LinkedIn.com/in/your-name | email@example.com | Street, Town/City, AA1 1AA
In the first sentence, highlight your current job title and your years of experience. In the next sentence, showcase one or two of your biggest achievements from your current or previous jobs. Finally, highlight some key skills and state you’re looking to apply these skills in the position of [Job Title] at [Company Name].
Month 20xx–present, Town/City
- Include a bulleted list of your accomplishments
- Add numbers to some of these bullet points to demonstrate your accomplishments
- Use four or fewer bullet points for each position you include on your CV
Month 20xx–Month 20xx, Town/City
- List relevant accomplishments from a previously held position
- If you no longer perform this job, make sure you use past tense verbs to describe the experience
- Unless you lack work experience, all the positions you list on your CV should be relevant to the job you’re applying for
BA/BSc (Hons), Degree Title, Degree Classification (1st/2:1/2:2/3rd class honours)
Name of University
- List your relevant skills and non-academic qualifications
- Include technical skills, or soft skills if you’re applying for an entry-level job
- Be as specific as possible with your technical skills (i.e., mention the names of software or tools you can use)
HOBBIES & INTERESTS
- List some of your notable hobbies, especially if they use skills in common with the job you want
- Employers like to get to know the person they’re hiring, and hobbies are a great way to show you have a life outside of work
- Add any organisations or sport clubs you’re involved in
In addition to including everything you need on a CV, this template follows standard UK CV formatting guidelines, which include:
- filling 1–2 A4-size pages (your CV’s length can vary depending on how much experience you have)
- using an easy-to-read font — your CV font should typically be sized between 10 and 12 points
- setting 1.27–2.5 cm margins
- using 1–1.5 line spacing between lines of text
The guide above is perfect if you’re in a rush — or you can use a CV maker that takes just minutes to make a job-winning application document.
But if you’ve got the time, you can also scroll down to learn more about how to write each section of your CV in these 9 steps:
- Start with your header and contact information
- Make a compelling CV personal statement
- Present your relevant work experience
- Outline your educational background
- Highlight your key skills
- Include a hobbies and interests section
- Add any additional sections you might need
- Look at pre-written CVs for inspiration
- Complement your CV with a cover letter
1. Start with your header and contact information
Your CV header sits at the top of the first page of your CV layout and includes your:
- first and last name (don’t use ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as your title)
- target job title
- optional CV headline (a single-line of text including your job title and top selling point)
- email address (use a professional email address like firstname.lastname@example.org)
- mobile phone number
- link to a professional profile (for example, your LinkedIn page)
You don’t need to put your full postal address on your CV because most companies will contact you by email or phone. However, putting your town or city is a good idea because it gives employers a rough idea of where you’re based. You can add the first half of your postcode if you want to give a more specific location:
Additionally, you shouldn’t give too many personal details on your CV to maintain your privacy. For instance, you shouldn’t put your driving licence on your CV unless it’s a job requirement (e.g., you’re applying for a deliver driver job)
Leave these details off your CV
- political affiliation
- marital status
2. Make a compelling CV personal statement
Summarise your skills and qualifications for the employer by writing a job-specific personal statement at the top of your CV.
How to write a personal statement for a CV
- Specify your professional title or area of expertise (e.g., ‘Registered Nurse’ or ‘Computer Science Graduate’)
- State how much experience you have in years or months (if you don’t have work experience yet, skip this step)
- Outline your key achievements, skills, or qualifications
- Highlight a relevant career goal or benefit you’ll bring to the company
Personal statements only work if they address the employer’s needs. So only include information that qualifies you for the job or benefits the hiring company.
If you’re unsure which of your skills and experience will be most useful to the employer, look at the role’s requirements (in the job advert) and research the company’s website and social media.
Here’s an example from a nursing CV that shows what a personal statement should look like when it’s employer-ready:
3. Present your relevant work experience
Your work experience section tells the employer what jobs you’ve done that have prepared you for the current opportunity.
List each relevant job you’ve done, starting with the most recent and working backwards. For each entry include the following information:
- job titles
- employment dates
- company names and locations
- 3–5 bullet points outlining your relevant achievements and responsibilities
Here’s a copy-and-paste template to show you how your work experience entries should look when formatted correctly:
Work experience entry (formatted template)
Your Job Title, Start Date–End Date (or ‘Present’)
- Outline the main functions of your job and who you worked with
- Use your remaining bullet points to highlight key achievements or responsibilities that the employer will be interested in
- Include bullet points with action verbs that show enthusiasm and how you did things
- Use hard numbers so your achievements are more likely to get the employer’s attention
If this is your first application and you’re writing a CV with no experience, don’t fret. You can also add volunteering roles, internships, and work experience placements you did during secondary school instead. And if you don’t have any of those experiences, you can even connect how you manage your schedule and personal interests to the job you want.
Look at CV examples for first job applications for even more ideas on how to build your work experience section.
4. Outline your educational background
When you make your CV education section, list your highest qualification first, following this order:
- Master’s degrees
- Bachelor’s degrees
- 16–18 qualifications (for example, A-Levels, Scottish Highers, T Levels)
- GCSEs (or N5s in Scotland) or vocational equivalents
You don’t need to list all of your GCSEs if you have a university degree or A-Levels. However, many employers require candidates to have at least Grades 9–4 (or Grades A*–C before the 2017 reform) in English, Maths, and IT or other subjects, so you should mention these details.
Here’s an example that shows how to write a CV education section:
If you’re applying for your first job, learn how to highlight extracurricular activities in CVs to show employers you have the skills and motivation they’re looking for.
5. Highlight your key skills
Employers often only spend a few seconds skimming each CV for important details. Listing your key skills in a dedicated section helps draw their attention to what you can offer the company.
Most job applicants put their skills section after their education section to ensure employers see any skills they missed while quickly reading about them in the rest of their sections.
However, if you’re early in your career or applying for a job that requires specific technical knowledge, position your skills section above your work experience so the employer sees it immediately.
If you’re switching industries or have long employment gaps, try writing a skills-based CV, which highlights your skills rather than your work history.
Just make sure every skill you list is related to the job you’re applying for so you don’t waste space on your CV and make it look like you’re filling it with fluff. Here’s a good example of a CV skills section written for a sales associate job:
6. Include a hobbies and interests section
UK employers expect you to add a hobbies and interests section to your CV so they can understand who you are when you’re not working. Write this section well, and it can make employers interested in getting to know more about you in a job interview.
So list up to five hobbies or interests that reflect well on your personality and demonstrate positive personal traits that would make you a good fit for the job.
To help you decide what information to add in this section, here are some examples of how employers interpret certain hobbies and interests:
- Being on your local football team shows you’re capable of teamwork
- Duke of Edinburgh’s Award shows your independence, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving abilities
- Being a regular gym-goer shows your commitment to reaching personal goals
- Playing a musical instrument shows dedication and creativity
7. Add any additional sections you need
Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, you might need to add additional sections to your CV.
For example, it’s a good idea to include a projects section if you’re applying for a software engineer job or a web developer role.
Here are some useful additional sections — as well as when and how you should add them to your CV:
Additional CV sections
|When to include it
|You're applying for jobs for which knowledge of multiple languages is useful (e.g., customer service representative)
|You want to emphasise your continued professional development separately from your education history
|You want to demonstrate community engagement, are changing careers, or want to fill career gaps
|Work experience section
|You want to emphasise industry expertise for a senior position
|Awards and honours
|You want to emphasise industry expertise, explain a career change, or make up for a lack of work experience
Don’t add references to your CV — doing so takes up valuable space on your CV.
8. Look at good CVs for inspiration
Sometimes the best way to learn how to write a CV is by looking at good pre-written ones. So here are some that show how to write a CV if you:
1. How to write a CV with no work experience
No experience? No problem. This CV shows you how to write a strong CV with no work experience:
Hardworking coffee enthusiast with proven experience preparing coffee and espresso-based drinks. Organised Upper Sixth student adept at juggling academic responsibilities with part-time work. Adaptable (having volunteered in several distinct roles), I’m seeking to bring my customer service and sales skills to Homey’s Roastery as your next outstanding barista.
- Provided excellent customer service as a babysitter for multiple families, maintaining a 100% satisfaction rate and numerous repeat bookings
- Volunteered at a Christmas dinner drive for a local food bank, assisting with food selection and carrying heavy items to and from vehicles
- Gathered reader feedback and insights for school newspaper, resulting in a 50% increase in readership
- Knowledge of coffee flavours, experimented with different coffee beans, and able to distinguish different roasts
- Adept at using a coffee grinder to grind fresh beans for brewing
- Highly developed knowledge of how to make espresso-based drinks, including cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas, using a home espresso machine or a milk frother
- Successfully balanced babysitting, school coursework experience, and academic responsibilities, maintaining A* to B grades in all classes
- Helped organise Christmas charity market in less than 2 weeks, demonstrating ability to prioritise tasks effectively
- Prepared content plans for school newspaper and ensured articles were drafted and edited according to schedule
- Able to efficiently operate a cash register, using fast mental arithmetic to calculate correct change for customers
- E-commerce experience, having used online marketplaces to sell leftover clothes and textiles from clothing fundraiser, generating 10% extra revenue
Greater Peterborough UTC
A Levels & predicted grades:
- History: A
- French: A*
- Business Studies: A
- Chemistry: B
St John Fisher Catholic High School
10 GCSEs (A*–B), including Maths, English Language, Design & Technology, Geography, & Art
VOLUNTEER & EXTRACURRICULAR EXPERIENCE
Peterborough Food Bank, Peterborough
Greater Peterborough UTC, Peterborough
Editor (Student Newspaper), 20xx–Present
- Customer service skills
- Point-of-sale systems
- Time management
- Planning and organisation
- News writing and editing
- Conversational German
HOBBIES & INTERESTS
- Football, played on school A team for 3 years and named Man of the Match on several occasions
- Creative writing, enjoy putting together short stories in my free time
- Cooking, enjoy experimenting with recipes from different cultures around the world
2. How to write a CV with work experience
Here’s a CV written by an applicant with work experience that’s relevant to the job they’re targeting:
Dedicated Senior Sales Associate with [#] years of experience in retail environments. Recognised for my ability to communicate with customers, provide exceptional service, and upsell products. Top-ranking salesperson at one of Burberry’s busiest London locations 2 years consecutively. Seeking a responsible Sales Manager position with opportunities for advancement into more senior positions.
Senior Sales Associate, Aug 20xx–Present
- Assist 50+ customers daily in finding merchandise, while providing recommendations leading to a 12% annual increase in sales
- Helped implement a new inventory tracking system to improve organisational efficiency
- Exceeded sales goals by over 150% for two consecutive months
- Encouraged 80+ new patrons to sign up for Burberry’s newsletter per month
- Ranked in the top 3 on the sales floor in 20xx and 20xx
Retail Sales Associate, May 20xx–July 20xx
- Repeatedly exceeded monthly sales quotas and drove up sales by upselling new merchandise and making informed recommendations
- Operated Point of Sales systems efficiently and memorised Debenhams’ product inventory to provide better advice to customers
- Fielded 250+ customer complaints and offered workable solutions, leading to a 10% decrease in full refunds
- Maintained a consistent ‘A’ rating in customer experience satisfaction surveys
Sales Associate, Sep 20xx–April 20xx
- Checked out upwards of 150 customers daily to ensure they each had a seamless and pleasant experience
- Led 2+ drives to reduce food waste, earning accolades from management for efficiency and environmental concern
- Ensured all produce was handled according to health and safety regulations
- Maintained 100+ accurate records of store inventories
Nottingham Trent University, Sep 20xx–Jul 20xx
BA (Hons) Modern Languages and Linguistics (2:1)
Relevant Modules: Business Communication, Consumer Psychology, Spanish, French
Gladwell Sixth Form College, Sep 20xx–Jun 20xx
- Spanish (A)
- French (B)
- Business Studies (A)
- Geography (C)
- Expert organisational skills
- Skilled with point-of-sale systems
- Time management
- Customer service skills
- Excellent people skills
- Fluent in Spanish and French
- Conflict resolution skills
HOBBIES & INTERESTS
- Socialising with friends and family
- Watching TV (BBC news and documentaries)
- Playing football on a weekly basis
- Reading non-fiction books
- Solving puzzles
These CVs are also optimised to get past applicant tracking systems — AI software that filters applications for employers so they only see the very best CVs.
9. Pair your CV with a compelling cover letter
You need to write a cover letter for your CV unless the job advert says not to include one.
While your CV lets recruiters and employers see your past successes, a cover letter links your accomplishments to the company you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to a pub that’s opening in your village, you can use a cover letter to tell the landlord how you’ll help them train new bar staff.
CV Writing FAQs
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about CV writing:
1. How do I write a simple CV?
To write a simple CV, download a simple CV template and fill it in. Simple CVs are ideal for you if you’re a newcomer to the job market or applying for jobs when you’re unsure whether your CV should be formal or not.
2. Should I put my face on my CV?
No, you should not put your face on your CV unless you’re applying for a modelling or acting job — in which case you should use a CV template with a photo to help employers evaluate your fit for their role.
But in most other situations, putting your face on your CV could hurt your chances of getting the job. Companies are reluctant to hire candidates with face photos on their CVs because they could be accused of hiring you because of your ethnicity, gender, sex, or appearance.
3. How do you write a CV on an iPhone?
To write a CV on an iPhone, you have two main options:
- use an online CV writer optimised for iOS
- download the Apple Pages or Google Docs apps for free: you can find free templates or download Google Docs CV templates — just remember to save your CV as a PDF so employers can open it
Redditor CV Writing Questions
Here are some questions people are asking on Reddit:
1. Is it worth paying someone to write my CV?
This question comes courtesy of u/AssumptionNo4461.
Although it’ll depend on your budget, it’s generally not worth paying someone to write your CV for you (although we compiled a list of high-quality UK-based CV writing services for you if you can afford them).
Most professional CV writers charge £100+ for a CV — and that’s if you have no experience. If you’re mid-level or senior in your industry, you’ll pay hundreds of pounds.
You’ll also have to write out all your qualifications, achievements, and work experience so that the paid writer can add it to your CV — so you’ll still be doing most of the work.
If you really want to pass off writing your CV to someone else, we recommend using a CV builder online. CV builders charge a couple of pounds, ask you a few questions, and prepare your CV in minutes.
Most online CV builders are rolling subscriptions, so remember to cancel your subscription once you’ve got a job.
2. Does anyone know of any free CV writing support?
u/DMBear89 asks this question.
To get free CV writing support, you can try:
- your school or university careers service: this is usually free if you’re a current student (or in many cases, if you’re an alumnus)
- the National Careers Service: the government has a freefone number you can call to get CV writing and job application advice on 0800 100 900 from Monday to Friday 08:00–20:00 and Saturday and bank holidays 10:00–17:00
- Jobcentre Plus: you can get free CV writing help from a work coach (even if you’re not claiming benefits)
3. How do I deal with anxiety writing a CV?
Whether you’re unemployed or in work, writing a CV is anxiety-provoking because your future lifestyle is riding on its quality.
Here are some tips to deal with job-search anxiety:
- look at CV examples for similar jobs so you can get ideas for your own and improve its quality
- use ChatGPT to make a basic CV — just tell it some of your qualifications, experience, and achievements along with your target role and it’ll spit out a basic CV you can start from
- take a break — if you get writer’s block, don’t panic; go for a walk, watch your favourite programme on the telly, or catch up with a friend
- get professional support — if your anxiety feels like it’s too much to deal with, consider whether you’d benefit from some support from the NHS, like seeing your GP
You can also upload what you already have to a CV checker. These tools tell you what’s good, make suggestions for updating your CV, and correct any typos you may have.
More CV Writing FAQs
- How do I write a CV in English if it’s not my mother tongue?
- What do employers look for in a CV?
- How do you write degree classification on a CV?
- How do I write a CV for freshers in India?
- How do I show a promotion on my CV?
- How do I write a CV for a part-time job?
- How do I write a career-change CV?
- How do I write a visual CV?
- How do I make a video CV?
- How do I write an academic CV?