How to write and improve your CV

Check out advice from our careers professionals on writing a CV, highlighting your skills, and making your CV stand out

Picture Credit : Ewen Weatherspoon / HIE

A Curriculum Vitae, or CV as it’s more commonly known, is a personal marketing tool. It’s used to present your academic qualifications, work experience, and skills to potential employers.

The main aim of a CV is to highlight your strengths and suitability for a post in order to obtain an interview.

Before you start…

Research the area of work you’re interested in. Analyse vacancy and job descriptions (see our graduate and student vacancies), look at employer websites and speak to personal contacts to help you identify the key skills the employer will be looking for. Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.

Gather information about yourself. Reflect on your experience, knowledge, skills, and personal qualities. Remember to consider all aspects of your life to fully understand what you have to offer, e.g. part-time work, academic interests, spare time activities, societies, and hobbies. These will offer valuable evidence of relevant skills employers are looking for such as communication, leadership, teamwork, organisation, and flexibility.

How to write a CV

Employers are looking for a well-structured CV that supplies information relevant to their specific graduate or student placement. It should summarise your educational qualifications, work experience, skills and interests and be unique to you. 

Structurally, your CV should include:

  • Personal details: name, address, email address, and phone number.
  • Short personal profile or career objective (optional).
  • Education and qualifications. Use reverse chronological order, start with the most recent first.
  • Work experience, both paid and voluntary. This can be split into relevant and other, or listed in reverse chronological order.
  • Interests, achievements and positions of responsibility (optional).
  • Referees. If you are running out of space or use this CV on recruitment sites or agencies, you can state "References available on request”.

How to layout a CV

The purpose of the CV is to obtain an interview, so it must present evidence of what you have to offer in an interesting and positive way.

Two common types of CV are ‘Chronological’ and ‘Skills Based’. Even if you have lots of experience, your CV should be no more than two sides of A4.

You will also find good advice on your University Careers Service webpages and many offer CV checking services as part of their service. Tell them that ScotGrad sent you!