If you’re starting a new CV (Curriculum Vitae, also known in the States as a resume) or just updating an existing one, you’re in luck! There is lots of information online about how to write a CV, what you should include, and what you shouldn’t, as well as top tips and example templates to get you started.

Whilst most of these websites offer some really great advice, some also offer CV writing services which will cost you to use. By following a few of our easy rules, you should be able to put together your own CV, and save yourself some money in the process!

As explained in our page 'Work for post 16 year olds', you can seek advice from your school on what you might be suited to and in most instances careers advisors will be able to help you produce a CV.

Top experts in HR, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) can also help you write your CV. Also take a look at the tools available for building your CV at CVrite.co.uk, which includes over 40 templates for you to use. You might also want to think about creating a video CV - take a look at this infographic to find out more.

CV writing tips

Here are Total Professions' tips to writing a CV:

  • Be clear and concise throughout – You don’t need to explain everything about previous jobs, a lot will be given away by the job title, but just a short description followed by some of your key achievements in the role should suffice
  • Try and put yourself in the recruiting manager’s shoes – Think about what they are looking for in their ideal candidate and tailor your CV to show your relevant skills clearly
  • Layout – Make sure it is easy to find the information you are trying to give…don’t use too small a font, don’t make it too wordy, separate out your sections, etc.
  • Be truthful – there is nothing wrong in promoting yourself, but try not to over-embellish! You will be asked about your past experience, achievements, projects, and it will be embarrassing if you can’t live up to what you’ve said on your CV!
  • Keep it under 2 pages – If you can avoid going over 2 pages, then do. Spare a thought for the recruiting manager who has to look at 50 CVs…some of the 4 or 5 page CVs won’t get very far!
  • Try and put the most important information on the front page – This way it will catch the attention of the recruiting manager and make them more likely to read on
  • Don’t delay – If you’re starting your CV from scratch, you may need to gather information that isn’t to hand, such as dates of previous employment
  • Get some feedback – Use friends, colleagues, family, or anyone who will give you an honest view about your CV...and get them to proof read it for errors too
  • Write it yourself - No-one knows you and your experience and skills better than you. Whilst it can feel like a painful process, a short period of dedicated time will go a long way

What do I need to include

Most people struggle to get started with their CV because they are unsure exactly what should be included. There are a number of ways of putting together a CV but they generally include the same sections:

  • A profile or objective – A brief description of you and what you are looking for next
  • Skills – A list of your key skills with a brief description
  • Experience – Details of your past work experience and your key achievements in each role. Start with the most recent first
  • Qualifications and training – Qualifications you have achieved, along with any training courses, preferably work-related that you have undertaken
  • References or a line saying references are available on request

In terms of experience, the best ways to make yourself more employable are to avoid gaps in your CV and to carefully detail anything relevant for future employers.

Also take a look at these tips for what to include in your CV, from Bright Knowledge.

Profession specific CV tips 

  • IT: How to structure your CV from the BCS (British Computer Society) 
  • Engineering: Writing a CV from the IET (Institution of Engineering and Design)
  • Law: Your CV from the Institute of Paralegals
  • Science and Technology: Your CV from the IoP (Institute of Physics)

Good job