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How to write a CV

Writing a CV is a way to tell a recruiter all about you, your skills and experience - and hopefully persuade them to invite you to an interview. Here are our tips for writing a CV that will stand out to employers.


A CV is a document that summarises your experience, achievements, knowledge and skills. It can be the first stage of an application for a job or further study. You can also use it as a way of introducing yourself to potential employers.

Your CV will be shaped by your personal experience, qualifications and skills, and it will grow and change with you. It is often the first chance you have to make an impression and make yourself stand out. 

Read on for our tips on writing a CV that will stand out to employers.

5 steps to make your CV stand out

1. Make it relevant

When tailoring your CV, make sure you add the most relevant information first. This could be your degree, work experience or voluntary experiences. The order is important because recruiters often scan through CVs before deciding to read it more thoroughly or reject. Adding the most relevant information first highlights to the employer you have the skills for the job.

Your examples could come from a range of contexts such as

  • your studies
  • work experience
  • part-time jobs
  • extra-curricular activities, such as volunteering or peer mentoring
  • hobbies and interests 

If the job description lacks detail, or you’re sending a CV speculatively, you may not know what skills the employer is looking for. To help with this, use the skills listed in the job profiles on the Prospects website as a guide.

These links also have advice on the skills employers look for, and how to demonstrate them:

2. Emphasise your results rather than responsibilities 

Instead of listing your tasks or responsibilities, make your CV stand out by highlighting key achievements. Try to back these up these where possible. For example, if you fundraised for a society, you could include how much money you raised. You could also include any excellent academic results for modules or assignments in your Education section.

Using strong action verbs such as: ‘managed’, ‘implemented’, ‘co-ordinated’, ‘achieved’ will give your CV extra impact. You can find more action verbs on our CVs & Covering Letters workbook.  

3. Choose your format

Think about how you arrange your experience, skills and achievements. You want to make it easy for a recruiter to scan through quickly and pick out your key points.

Types of CV formats:

Chronological CV

A chronological CV lists your education and experience in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent and working backwards. This is the most common style of CV and is more suited to new graduates. It's also generally preferred by employers as it’s easy to skim through.

Skills-based (or functional) CV

This may be useful when your degree subject and work experience are not related to the role. This is because it allows you to show relevant transferable skills. You need be very clear on what the employer is looking for and be able to provide evidence through examples.

They can be useful for experienced graduates who want to change career direction. But for new graduates, we'd suggest a chronological CV rather than a skills-based one.

Targetjobs has more advice on whether a chronological or skills-based CV is right for you.

Academic CV

Use this style to apply for academic jobs such as a postdoctoral position or lectureship. It’s usually built around three areas:

  • your research
  • teaching
  • administrative experience

It can also include publications and conferences you’ve attended. 

Checklist for a professional CV format 

  • Choose a clear, readable CV font, such as Arial, with a minimum font size of 11 for your main content.
  • Add the most relevant information first. Recruiters often scan through CVs quickly before deciding to read more thoroughly or reject, so the order’s important. Based on what you know about the job, start with what’s most relevant, for example, your degree, work experience or voluntary work. 
  • Use bullet points to break up the text, rather than writing in block paragraphs. Start each point with a strong action verb.
  • List each section in reverse chronological order. Show your most recent education, work experience and achievements first.
  • Ensure your CV is the right length. It can be no longer than 2 pages. The only exception is that if you’re applying for academic positions, your CV can be longer. If you're applying for a role in investment banking, a one-page CV is standard. 
  • Different countries have different CV formats.

Find out more about specific CV formats on the following websites:

4. Check your spelling

Check your CV carefully to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Read it out loud to yourself, use the spelling and grammar tool in Word. You could also ask a friend to proofread it for you.

Find online and in-person resources to help you use grammar and punctuation correctly:

5. Include a covering letter 

Unless it says specifically not to, always include a  cover letter. This helps to highlight the important parts of your CV and your motivation for applying.  

CVs and Covering Letters workbook

For more advice on writing CVs and covering letters, see our CVs and Covering Letters workbook.

CV and covering letter workbook for students (PDF: 112KB)

Example CVs

Look at example CVs to help you think about structure, content and how to highlight your skills. You can compare your own draft and see if there’s anything you need to add or improve.

We've created some example CVs in different formats. Find example CVs for graduate and part-time jobs below, including some sector-specific CVs.

Get online feedback using CareerSet

Our online AI-generated checker, CareerSet gives you instant feedback 24/7.

CareerSet scores your CV on key skills that recruiters look for. It focuses on impact, brevity and style. You can use the feedback to edit your CV and re-submit it to CareerSet as many times as you like. You can also match your CV with a job description, to help you tailor it to a specific role.

You can access CareerSet directly or via the CV and Covering Letter Pathway.

After using CareerSet, we recommend you book an online or in-person CV appointment. Alternatively, you can send your CV to us for written feedback via MyCareer. This will help you refine your CV further. You don’t need to have achieved a specific score on CareerSet to do this.

CareerSet can only provide feedback on chronological CVs. For other styles (such as skills-based), please book an appointment or submit your CV as above.

How to Use CareerSet

1. Log in to CareerSet

You can access CareerSet directly or via the CV and Covering Letter Pathway.


Log into CareerSet with your Newcastle University email address to get an authentication link. This will log you in for the duration of one session. Your account will be created on your first login.


To access CareerSet you’ll need our Newcastle University graduate voucher code. This is listed in the CV and Covering Letter Pathway.

The Careers Service will have access to your scores and feedback reports. This helps us develop further support and advice, but your CV is not stored in CareerSet. All information is in line with the University’s data protection policy.

2. Accept the:

3. Click on Score My CV and upload your CV to get your feedback report

This takes about 30 seconds. Your CV must be in PDF format:

4. Review your score and work your way through the feedback and tips to help you improve your CV.

For the first time you use it, click on ‘Show me around’ for a full tour of the report. There’s no such thing as a perfect CV, so you don’t need to try to get to 100%! We’d suggest aiming for a score above 70%, but if you’re struggling to reach that, don’t worry.

You can book an online or in-person CV appointment to get help from a CV adviser. You can then upload your CV again to see if you’ve improved your score. 

Target your CV

If you’re applying for a specific role, you can add a job/placement description to CareerSet. This will allow you to see how well your CV matches, based on the keywords and skills required.

Click on Target My CV. This can be found on the dashboard or in the left-hand menu on your report. Then upload or copy the text to get your relevancy score and advice on how to improve this.

You can also get help from our CV advisers on tailoring your CV to the role. Share the job description during your appointment. If sending it via MyCareer, upload it with your CV.

What CareerSet can't do

CareerSet is a valuable tool for getting feedback on your CV, but there are certain things it can’t do. Instead, you can book an in-person or online appointment or submit a query via MyCareer if you:

  • Have a CV in a different format, eg skills-based, academic, Europass, or a more creative CV. CareerSet only checks chronological CVs.
  • Don’t have much work experience to add to your CV. Book a information appointment for help on how to find relevant opportunities and develop your skills.
  • Are applying for opportunities overseas. CareerSet focuses on what UK employers look for.
  • Want to discuss how to include reasonable adjustments/extenuating circumstances on your CV.

Feedback from a CV adviser

Before you book a CV appointment or sending us your CV for feedback, you need to complete the CV and Covering Letter Pathway on MyCareer first. This includes uploading your CV to CareerSet. Once you have completed the Pathway and made any changes suggested by CareerSet, you can then receive 1:1 feedback from a CV adviser. 

Book a CV appointment

You can also send your CV (in Microsoft Word) to us for written feedback. This can take up to 5 working days. Click on Queries/CV in MyCareer to submit your query and CV.

Academic CVs

Academic CVs focus on academic achievements, research interests and specialist skills. If you're an aspiring lecturer or researcher then this type of CV is for you.

The following websites provide advice on writing CVs for academia:

Guide to CVs for academic researchers

We've created a guide to CVs for academic researchers below. This should be used for applying to academic positions. For positions in industry, use a two page chronological CV.

Academic CV workbook (PDF: 384KB)