Writing effective CVs and covering letters
This section provides advice and tips on what employers are looking for, and what to consider before writing your CV and covering letter, including content and layout.
What makes an effective CV?
Understanding what employers are looking for in a CV, and how to tailor them for specific jobs, is key to writing excellent CVs. You must:
- show evidence that you have the key skills, experience & qualifications the employer is looking for.
- format your CV clearly, and split it into sections
- avoid large paragraphs of text, and consider using bullet points
- always proofread your CV before sending it
For top tips, including content and layout, read our concise guide:
You can find more advice, including examples, on these graduate websites:
For advice about applying for courses of further study, including Masters courses, read the information here:
Where can I find examples of successful CVs?
A successful CV is one that secures you an interview. Here are examples of successful CVs kindly shared by our students and graduates. Your CV is a very personal document, and the examples show that a wide variety of styles and personalisation can be used, as long as the content is focused on providing evidence of the key skills, experience and qualifications the employer is looking for. Use these examples to help you write your own unique successful CV.
What should I include in a covering letter?
It’s common to send a covering letter with your CV. This should complement rather than repeat your CV, and is another opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the position. Include:
- why you’re applying for the role
- why you want to work for that particular employer
- your most relevant skills and experience. You won’t be able to include everything, so be selective
- keep it to one A4 page, and use a standard business letter format
- aim for 3-5 concise paragraphs.
- address it to a named contact if possible
Find more information and advice in our concise guide:
What about references?
How many references do I need? Who should I ask? What if I don't have any work experience? What references do I need for a postgraduate course? Find the answers to these questions and more in our guide to Referees and References.
I’m an international student. How do I explain my international qualifications to employers?
You’ll find advice in our information resource:
Where can I find more information and advice?
We have relevant books for you to use in our information centres.
We run workshops on how to write winning CVs and covering letters, which are also available to watch on our website. You can search for talks and events on MyCareerHub.
How can I get feedback on my CV and covering letter?
Make an appointment on MyCareerHub for one-to-one CV and covering letter feedback from one of our Careers Consultants or Careers Information Advisers.
If you are repeatedly receiving job rejections from employers, have a look at our resource, Dealing with Job Rejection. It provides advice on how to cope with, and learn from, job rejection, at both application and interview stage. It also covers how to ask for interview feedback.
Writing effective applications and CVs for further study