Help with CVs

Grow People

CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which literally means 'The course of one's life'.

A CV (sometimes called a résumé) is a concise document that outlines the relevant facts about you and your experience to a prospective employer.

Unlike filling in an application form, writing a CV offers you the chance to present information about yourself in a way you feel highlights your strengths and particular experience.

When compiling your CV you should bear in mind that employers can check the details you give. They can access a database containing details of academic achievements, employment and membership of technical bodies, so remember to be truthful.

Covering letters

You should always send a covering letter with a CV. This letter needs to be short and to the point, explaining why you are sending the CV.

If it is in response to an advertised job, you could draw the employer's attention to the skills and experience you have that are particularly relevant to the post.

Be careful not to just repeat exactly what is in your CV.

If you have sent a speculative letter (a letter you send to find out if there are vacancies), you could say when you will follow up the enquiry with a telephone call.

Follow the tips here to help ensure you get an interview:

  • Make a good impression – This might be the first contact the employer has with you. Covering letters need to be set out correctly. It should be easy to read, printed in black ink and in a plain font.
  • Make it short and sweet – Letters need to be short and to the point – no more than one side of A4 paper. Also write it using short paragraphs.
  • Start and finish properly – If you start with 'Dear Sir / Madam', you must end with 'yours faithfully' then sign your name with your name printed underneath your signature. If you start with 'Dear Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr' (followed by their name), you must end the letter with 'yours sincerely', then sign your name with your printed underneath your signature so the employer can read it.
  • Include all your details – Make sure that the employer has all your correct details – including postcode, telephone number, mobile number and email address (if you have one).
  • Check it thoroughly – Make sure you check the spelling and grammar. Get someone who is good at this sort of thing to double check it for you (for example, a youth worker, parent or teacher).

CV basics

Your CV needs to be

  • Clear – you want the information to be understood straight away
  • Concise – you shouldn't give irrelevant information
  • Well laid out – so that the information given can be quickly found

To achieve this

  • Use clear headings to separate the various sections of the CV
  • Use bullet points rather than writing paragraphs or long sentences
  • Keep the CV short – preferably no more than two sides of A4


  • Your CV is an advertising document for yourself
  • Make sure you don't overlook your skills and experience

CV dos and don'ts


  • Put the strongest statements at the top and work down the page
  • Add a personal statement using just one or two sentences to summarise your strengths
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Sentences should be between 15-20 words and paragraphs should be no more than 10 lines
  • Detail fully your achievements wherever possible
  • Have someone check your grammar, spelling and punctuation


  • Use 'I' – it is implied throughout
  • Include hobbies and social interests unless they are related to your current job target
  • Include pictures, salary information or other personal information, for example sex, weight, height
  • Try to be funny, or write in verse, or use coloured paper

How to layout a CV

There are many different ways to lay out your CV and we've provided some examples of CVs that others have found helpful.

Chronological CVs SHOW

Functional CVs SHOW

Targeted CVs SHOW

Further help

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