Careers advice

Writing CVs and letters

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an outline of your education and professional history. A good CV is a vital tool in helping you to sell yourself to a prospective employer and securing an interview.

Your CV is a chance to showcase your skills and experience to an employer. It shows you are the right person for the job.

To make the right impression you need to think about what to include, how much detail is needed and how to make your CV stand out from others.

Your CV should be introduced by a covering letter.

Dos and Don'ts

Do make sure your CV:

  • is easy to read with clear headings
  • is short and positive – ideally no more than 2 sides of A4 paper
  • is checked for spelling and grammar – it should always be word-processed
  • is tailored specifically for the job you are applying for
  • has your name and email address on every page – in case pages become separated


  • make up qualifications or previous jobs or lie in any way – employers check facts and may sack you if they take you on and later find out you lied
  • treat your CV as just a list of responsibilities – use it to spell out what you have done
  • pretend to be interested in things you've never tried – you may be caught out

What to include in your CV

Your CV should include the following sections in the order shown:

  • personal details – including your name, address and contact details
  • personal profile – summarising your key strengths
  • employment history and work experience – start with the most recent, listing the employer, dates worked, job title and brief outline of your main duties
  • education and training – start with your most recent qualification, include dates and grades
  • interests and achievements – ideally relevant to the job
  • additional information–- if you need to add anything else that's relevant, such as other applicable skills or gaps in your employment history
  • contact details of 2 referees – ideally one should be your most recent employer or college, or alternatively state 'references available on request'

Covering letter

Like a good CV, a good covering letter is an essential part of applying for a job. It should build on your CV and tell the employer why you are sending your CV, and why they should hire you.

Your covering letter should include:

  • why you are writing to them
  • where you saw the position advertised – you don't have to wait for a job to be advertised, it could be a speculative application
  • why you are suitable for the job
  • what you have to offer the employer
  • a sign-off of 'Yours sincerely' followed by your name

More help and advice

If you are aged 16 to 19 years-old, or up to 25 years-old with special educational needs, go to pages on career support for young people.

If you are 20 years-old or older, contact the National Careers Service.