7 Top Tips to Create Your Perfect CV

Nailing the first CV that you'll use for any application you make can be tricky. It's important that you get it right as in a nutshell, this is your entry pass into the professional world. 

We have outlined below, the key headings required in a good CV for a recent undergraduate or recent graduate. Follow these guidelines and you'll be on track for a perfect CV...


1. The Introduction

The top of your CV should contain your name and key contact details as well as a few short sentences outlining a little bit about you and what motivates you. A good example might be 'A creative and diligent History graduate from Durham, I am looking for opportunities to put my research and writing skills into practice in the professional world.'

2. Education & Qualifications

In the education section it's important to give a brief summary of your education in reverse chronological order, e.g. starting from the most recent and working backwards. Make sure you share enough detail, e.g. the names of modules if relevant, or if your degree subject is quite broad.

A Level and GCSE grades (or equivalent) don't need to be listed in full. Instead it's preferable to reference the number of GCSEs you achieved and the grades, i.e. 6 As and 3 Bs. Also mention whether your GCSE grades include English and Maths.

3. Employment History and Work Experience

When you add your employment make sure you include your employment dates, the full job title and the full company name. It is best to use bullet points to add your key achievements and responsibilities, ideally demonstrating with a specific example. We advise that you write your employment in chronological order (most recent first) and disregard anything not relevant to the role you are applying for. 

4. Key Experience (Extra-Curricular, Skills and Interests)

This section should outline any relevant experience you have that makes you a good fit for the role you are applying for. This might be a university project or some work experience you have completed. On the whole referencing that bar job in Australia or your saturday job in your local supermarket are not activities you need to elaborate on in your CV. If you are short on experience, then a short bullet that references 'retail experience in bars and supermarkets over three years is sufficient'.

Remember, your CV needs to differentiate you so it's important to pick out the most meaningful experiences you've had. Be sure to add skills you've gained such as foriegn languages, your driving licence or coding languages. In this section it's great to add any examples of leadership (perhaps you were the Captain of a sports team or you ran an event) as well as any University Society involvement. 

5. Presentation and Length

Keep your CV one page in length. As you are not at Manager level yet it is very unlikely that you have enough content for two pages. Re-evaluate your content if you think you have more than a page. It is probably best to delete anything that sounds vague or non-relevant. 

We suggest that you always use bullet points not sentences. Heavy sections of text are unattractive to recruiters. 

A recruiter will look at your CV for 5-7 seconds, so make sure it’s good looking, well formatted and laid out in a comprehensive and structured manner which is easy to understand.

6. Focused and Complete

Tailor your CV specifically to the job you are applying for. Remove your non-relevant experience or order your CV so that your more relevant information is nearer the top.

Don’t miss details off your CV – it can be frustrating for the recruiter. Make sure you include your University start and end year. Add any relevant grades and include start and end dates for employment or society involvement etc.. 

It's great practice to include an introduction on the CV itself. Use this to demonstrate that you are right for the job you are applying for and highlight your best achievement and skills. 

7. Lastly, an obvious point– (but frustratingly so regularly not done)

Check that your spelling and grammar is flawless. 

A Template for You

To help you out - we have created a superb template CV, you can download it here.

Good luck!

Next: An examplary cover letter