Writing a CV

By Alison Home, on 20 February 2013

It is important to have an up-to-date CV ready to send out at a moment’s notice!  This means that you can always take advantage of opportunities when they come up.

Writing a CV can be daunting, especially when you are still at school and haven’t got much experience yet. However, there are some simple things that you can do to make your CV stand out.

Top Tips:

-       Make sure that your name, phone number and email are clearly placed at the top of the page. Make it easy for people to get in contact with you.

-       Prioritise the information you include. A CV at this stage in your career only needs to be one page of A4 – and never longer than two.

-       Don’t lie! It is fine to emphasise the positive, but if you make things up then you will be found out at the interview.

-       If you are including reference details on your CV, make sure that you ask the referee’s permission first.

-       Don’t try to be creative with the presentation. is the most important thing is that your CV is clear and easy to read. The text should be black, size 10-12, in a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman.

-       Pay close attention to spelling, grammar and accuracy. Future employers will often have a lot of applications for each position, and they will reject people who make silly mistakes. It is often assumed that people who make spelling mistakes on their CV would be sloppy in their work. Read through your CV, ask a friend, teacher or parent to read it through, and make sure that all of the information is factually accurate.

CV Builder:

CVs should include the following sections :

  1. Personal details: name, address, telephone number and email address (make sure you check it regularly). You don’t have to put your date of birth, unless it is relevant to the job (i.e. if you need to prove that you are over 16 or 18), but many people will include it. You can also include your nationality here.
  2. Personal profile: Include a short profile statement (one or two sentences) that summarises who you are and your key strengths. Try to avoid clichés. Think about the areas where you excel – communication, teamwork, numeracy, persistence/stamina, or organisation – and a short example to illustrate your abilities. You can also include information here about your future plans – if you are intending to study a specific subject at university or want to follow a career that is relevant to the job vacancy, say so.
  3. Education history: start with the most recent. Include the name of the place that you studied at and its location, with the dates that you studied there; the subjects that you studied; and the qualifications and grades (e.g. GCSE A*) that you obtained. Relevant experience: you might not have much paid work to include here yet, but you can include voluntary work experience and any part-time work that you have done. You should also include any positions in clubs and societies (e.g. Football Team Captain, Girl Guide, Youth Parliament member) and any roles that you have held at school (e.g. School Prefect, School Council member, Young Enterprise). Include the name of the place that you worked/volunteered, the dates that you worked there, the title of your position (e.g. Waitress, Volunteer Tour Guide, Retail Assistant) and the main responsibilities of each job. 
  4. Achievements: this might include things like Duke of Edinburgh awards, music grade exams, sporting awards or winning a contest or competition like debating, poetry, music or Young Enterprise. If you have won any prizes at school, include them here. You could include participation in charity campaigns or fundraising events (Race for Life, charity bakesales, sponsored swims) – explain your role and say how much money you raised. You can also write about other achievements, such as being selected to participate on a workshop or summer course (e.g. Pathways to Law, Target Medicine, UCL Horizons). Don’t assume that everyone will know what these things are – write a short sentence describing each achievement.
  5. Hobbies and Interests: make them interesting! Don’t put ‘reading, listening to music and watching TV’ – nearly everyone else shares these interests. Either think about unusual things that you like to do, or describe your interests to make them sound more personal – what type of books do you like to read? What sort of music do you like to listen to, do you go to watch bands live or play any instruments?
  6. References: you normally need two – either one academic and one from your work/volunteer experience, or two from your school if you don’t have any prior experience. If you want to include their details on your CV, you need to include their name and job title, their email and phone number and their work address. You need to check with your referees before you do this. Otherwise, you can simply say ‘References available on request’ – most jobs won’t need to contact your referees until after you have had an interview. There are some great resources online that you can use to create your CV from scratch. They help you to think about the most important information to include, and help you to organise your experience and skills effectively.

Useful Resources:

University of London has produced a series of careers booklets that you can download for free. There is information available on building a CV, creating a personal statement and writing a covering letter. They are aimed at university students but still have lots of useful information:




The government has a website that has lots of information about CVs and finding work. You can register on the website if you are over 16, and then upload all of your information into the CV builder – it will even organise your work into a word document.


The government also has advice on student CVs here:


TheSite.org has advice on how to write a good CV and how to make your CV stand out from the crowd:




This post was written by Charlotte Lydia Riley.