A CV is a job application document that shows employers why you deserve an interview. A good CV clearly highlights your educational and professional background, including your:
- key skills
- work experience
- qualifications and certifications
Knowing how to write a good CV that features these CV elements is an important skill if you want to find yourself a new job.
For most people, the ideal CV length is two pages. Two pages give you the chance to describe your work history, education, and skills in full, while also letting you add a touch of your personality — like your hobbies and interests.
To save you time writing your CV, you’ll find many good online CV templates that you can download and fill in with your information, featuring a range of eye-catching CV design ideas that both stand out to employers and clearly present your background.
You can also use an online CV maker to make the process even easier. A CV maker generates a good CV for you in a few minutes after asking you some questions about your education, prior work experience, and skills.
What does CV stand for?
‘CV’ stands for ‘curriculum vitae’, Latin for ‘the path of your life’, which makes sense because a CV walks employers through the path of your career and education and lets them know whether you’d be a good fit for their company.
What does a CV look like?
Here’s what a CV should look like:
And these are the sections you should include in your CV:
Your CV title (also known as a CV heading or header) sits at the top of your CV and is the place where you provide your name, phone number, and a professional email address.
Your CV personal statement consists of three to four sentences under your CV title that sum up your main achievements, skills, and qualifications. A personal statement is sometimes also called a career summary or CV profile.
In this section, include your current and previous jobs from most recent to oldest (top to bottom). For each role, include your job title, the company’s name and location, and the dates you worked there.
After that, add 3–5 bullet points describing your achievements — use hard numbers for emphasis. If you don’t have much of a work history for your CV yet, put this part after your education section.
The education section on your CV should provide details about any degrees you have, your A-Levels, and GCSEs as well as your grades. If you haven’t got your marks yet, you can add predicted grades and the expected date you’ll get your qualifications.
Hobbies and interests
Listing your hobbies and leisure activities is a great way to highlight more of your personality and tell employers about some of the activities you do outside of school and work.
The best hobbies and interests to put on a CV are ones that show you have the skills for the job you’re applying for.
For instance, you might put ‘member of local football team’ in this section to highlight your teamwork abilities.
Frequently asked questions about CVs
Still have some questions about CVs? Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about them:
What is a CV template?
A CV template is a premade CV that you can modify and use as your own. Using a free CV template to make a CV is faster because you don’t need to set up the layout of your CV — you can immediately start filling it in.
Some people also call job-specific CV examples ‘templates’ because they act as a template for you to work from as you write your own CV.
What’s the difference between a CV and a cover letter?
A CV is a job application document that outlines your work history, skills, and qualifications. Meanwhile, the definition of a cover letter is a business letter you write to formally apply for a position.
You should learn how to write a cover letter and create a different one every time you apply for a job. A good cover letter supports your CV by expanding upon some of the experiences or skills you mentioned on it.
Specifically, your cover letter gives you room to explain how the experience and skills you mentioned on your CV make you the right person for your target job.
How do you format your CV?
CV formatting should be as follows:
- Font: Choose a commonly used sans serif CV font like Arial that’s between 10.5 and 12 points in font size so your CV is easy to read and looks professional.
- Margins: Setting your margins to between 1.25 cm and 2.5 cm all the way around your page gives your CV some white space and helps it look visually appealing.
- Line spacing: Set your line spacing to ‘1’ in your word processor to keep your CV from looking too crowded or spaced out
- Bulleted lists: When possible, use bullet points to convey your qualifications because they’re easier to read than full sentences and help highlight any important bits on your CV.
- Colour: Other than black and white, try using one extra colour as a highlight to make sure your CV stands out (in a good way!) to employers. Darker shades are the most professional, for example, maroon, royal blue, and British racing green