Find out how to write a CV and showcase your skills, experience and ability.
Book a place at a CV and applications workshop where you will be guided through what to include.
What is a CV?
Your CV (or Curriculum Vitae) is way for you to show off your skills and experience to potential employers and helps recruiters assess your suitability for a role or course.
Your CV should:
- provide a clear timeline of your major activities in recent years
- show where you have built up the ability to do the job or other opportunity you are applying for
- demonstrate professionalism with its logical, appropriate layout and wording.
Where to start
To give your CV the best chance of success, it is important to understand what the employer is looking for, before you start writing.
If you are applying to an advertised job vacancy or course, go through the person specification or entry requirements and identify where you have evidence of the skills, knowledge or experience needed.
If you are writing a speculative application, research the career area and find out what skills are in demand.
Your CV should be no longer than two pages (unless you are writing an academic CV).
- See the different types of CV with examples
- Chronological – this is the most popular style of CV for new graduates. Education, work experience and other major activities are listed in date order. See an example of a chronological CV – with experience. Also see part-time chronological CV with experience, a chronological CV with limited experience, chronological CV – following a Masters, a CV for jobs in finance.
- Skills – this type of CV centres on a list of the main skills you have to offer, with examples of when you have demonstrated them. This can be a good choice if you are changing direction, have little experience, or need to tell the employer about multiple technical skills. See an example of a skills CV – with experience and part-time Skills CV – with limited experience.
- Academic – for academic careers after completing a PhD, CVs tend to be much longer, with details of research carried out, and lists of publications, conferences attended. See an example of an academic CV.
- Alternative/creative – for certain creative industries, it is important to demonstrate your creativity by taking a bold approach to designing the CV so that it shows off your talents.
Use our CV checker
Sussex students and recent graduates can access extra support to help you write your CV. Once you have written your CV, you can upload it to our CV checker by CV360, to get instant feedback on how you might improve it. If you are a recent graduate contact us to get access to the CV checker.
What to include
See what to include in your CV below.
If you are an international student and you are applying for a job in your home country, you can see CV/resume formats for different countries by using GoinGlobal.
- Postal address
- Social media: include the details of your accounts, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Write a short introduction which highlights your key skills. Explain briefly where you are now, what you have to offer, and what you are looking for.
List your current or most recent course (including selection of modules or dissertation if relevant), and then work backwards to A-level and GCSE. You can summarise the number of your GCSEs and total grades obtained. Do mention if you have English and Maths.
Give the start and finish dates, title of the course, and name of the institution, followed by the result if known.
If you don’t have A-levels or GCSEs, give the original name and grade of your pre-Sussex qualifications, with UCAS points if possible.
List your most recent work experience first. You can include any type of work, including part-time, temporary, and voluntary experience.
Organise the information in a similar way to the education section and highlight any achievements with supporting evidence.
For experience that is not relevant to what you are applying for, focus on transferable skills. If you have worked in retail, for example, you could write about building teamwork, communication and customer service skills.
Mention any structured activities, especially those in which you have an official role, for example: student societies which you help to run.
Start by reviewing the skills you’ve gained from volunteering or work experience. You can also use examples from your academic life.
Once you have identified your skills, you need to show how you have used them. Think about where you developed particular skills and what you did. Avoid lists of skills without explanation.
- Wrote demanding essays at university and achieved a consistent 2.1.
- Compiled reports for a summer job as a business analyst intern and presented to the Board.
Just because you haven’t done a particular job before, it doesn’t mean you aren’t suitable for it. You may already have the transferrable skills required.
You may have worked at the University bar during your studies and are now applying for a graduate role in HR. You will have gained interpersonal, communication, self-management, planning and organisational skills from working at the bar. These skills will also be useful in an HR role and you can use your work experience to show that you have them.
See more information about skills from careers site TargetJobs.
You can write ‘Details of referees are available on request’ at the end of your CV.
If you are asked for referees, it is usual to give two: one from your current or most recent course, and one from a current or recent employer if possible.
Telling an employer about a disability
Your disability may have impacted on your ability to gain work experience. If this is the case, think about how you can demonstrate your skills and experience from other areas of your life when writing your CV, for example you may want to write about being involved with societies, volunteering, your studies or your interests.
Find out more about your disability rights.
We have partnered with EmployAbility to provide students with disabilities and long-term health conditions with individualised advice and support. The EmployAbility team will also advocate for you with an employer to ensure you receive the adjustments you need.
Further help and advice
If you need further help and advice while writing your CV:
- ask a question in CareerHub
- book a place at a CV workshop via CareerHub
- use our How to write your CV Canvas course to learn the basics.