How to Write an Effective CV

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An effective curriculum vitae, or CV, is an important element in helping you secure a new job, whether it is for an internal promotion or a fresh challenge with a new company. The purpose of your CV is to secure that all-important interview, so it is essential that your CV makes a powerful enough impression to stand out from other applications. A good CV will be as unique as you are, but thankfully there are some basic considerations that will help you create a document that will make it easy for a recipient to understand your education, skills, experience and achievements.

Select a suitable word-processing program to draft your CV. Many programs, such as Microsoft Word, come with useful and attractive templates suitable for most applications. Using a template can save time in formatting your information in a clear and readable way. If you are creating a CV from scratch select a clear, simple font and use bold headings to separate your information out. A potential employer is less likely to read your CV if it seems cluttered and badly formatted.

Position your name and contact details clearly at the top of the page. Include your postal address, email and all telephone numbers on which you can be reached so that any potential employer can easily get in touch with you.

Draft a personal statement in the space immediately below your contact details as a short, snappy summary of your key skills, qualities and ambitions. Write this in the third person and tailor the statement to every job you apply for by matching up your skills and experience to those demanded in the job description. A potential employer who sees the skills he is looking for reflected in a personal statement is more likely to ask you in for an interview.

List your employment history, starting with your current, or most recent, position. List all employers, dates of employment, positions held, major responsibilities and key achievements for each job, backed up with evidence and statistics if appropriate. Place greater emphasis, and provide more detail, on your most recent appointments. As with the personal statement, it is useful to review this section in light of the particular demands of any post you are applying for to show how you fit the requirements.

Set out your educational achievements, with your most recent qualifications first. For higher education awards such as those gained through college or university, provide the name of the institution you attended, with dates attended, degree obtained (including grade and specialism of applicable) and graduation year. For school qualifications, provide the name of the school where you gained your awards along with all subjects and grades.

Provide information on any other professional training, development or key achievements that might be relevant to the post you are applying for. Include things like foreign languages, ability to drive and certificated training in specific occupational tasks; for example, project-management or book-keeping. This is also where you should highlight other professional commitments such as membership of boards or advisory groups.

Check your CV for mistakes. Get your friends and family to read it through as well; sometimes it is easier for someone else to spot any mistakes. Make any final changes required then print or email this off to secure your next big opportunity.


  • You can highlight your professional strengths in your employment section. Provide information on personal interests only where they support the job you are applying for. References should be provided only if they have been requested.


  • Keep your CV to no more than two pages. Avoid using fancy fonts, colored ink or paper, and inconsistent formatting. Make it clear, simple and readable. If you have a quirky email address, change it to something sensible and businesslike.