Careers Service

Writing a good CV

This section outlines key points to remember when preparing a CV and covering letter and highlights the different requirements for academic and non-academic CVs.

Target your CV

When preparing any CV you should be targeting it to the job for which you are applying. Key points for preparing an effective CV are:

  • Analyse the job description and person specification to see what is required and what you need to demonstrate
  • Present your evidence to match the job qualities sought - always consider the employer's needs
  • Give space and importance to relevant experience, skills and achievements
  • Order the sections of your CV by importance and relevance to the job applied for
  • Adapt your CV for each application

Consider the layout

Layout and language are also important so your CV should:

  • Be well presented, with your experience outlined clearly so it’s easy to absorb
  • Use headings, which help you to relate your experience to the role applied for
  • Use bullet points or short phrases rather than long paragraphs of unbroken text
  • Be visually appealing (e.g. appropriate font, use of formatting)
  • Use positive language to convey your ability to achieve
  • Present education detail and work experience in reverse chronological order
  • Be an appropriate length – see below

Academic CVs

If the application is for a research only position then you should emphasise your research experience, publications, contributions at conferences, research funding you have won and any relevant technical skills.

If it is for a research and teaching position (lectureship) then you should also give details of any teaching and tutoring experience.

It is acceptable for an academic CV to be longer than the two pages which is standard in other sectors but it should still contain the most important information in the first pages.

Guidelines on how to prepare an academic CV and covering letter can be found in the document below:

 

You can also watch our Quick Guide to academic CVs which covers the basics of what to include in an academic CV:

Quick Guide to academic CVs

Non academic CVs

In a non-academic application you should emphasise the skills and experiences you have which are relevant to the role you are applying for. Be selective about what you include; focus on your relevant up-to-date experiences in education, work and leisure.

Non-academic CVs are usually a maximum of two pages in the UK.

Guidelines on how to prepare a non-academic CV and cover letter can be found in the document below: