CVs, Letters & Application Forms

How to write a great CV

A good format for a CV should include the elements listed below – although there isn’t only one ‘right’ format for a CV, using the following format should mean that the format of your CV isn’t confusing or difficult to follow for the person receiving it from you!  As a rule, always list employment history, education and any professional training or courses in order with the most recently first.  Don’t forget to include your name and contact details!

Personal Statement

This should give a good overview of your experience, skills and key qualifications relevant to the job, as well as personal attributes (e.g. organised, focussed, passionate) and career aspirations.

Employment / Career History

Include the following information for each job you have had, starting with the most recent:

  • Company Name and the dates you were employed – e.g. Company ABC – 1st January 2004 to Present
  • Job Title – if you have had a number of job titles, it’s fine to list them all but focus on the key ones relevant for the type of job you are looking for
  • Key Responsibilities / Duties – these are best in bullet form so that they are clear and easy to read
  • Key Achievements – these could be anything which highlight key skills or experience which will be relevant to the type of job you are looking for or which show evidence that you have a good range of core skills and have been successful in previous jobs

Professional Development / Training Courses / Qualifications

This section can be before or after the Education section depending on how relevant each is.  For example, if you must have a specific qualification or certificate which you achieved after leaving education then put this section first, or if you need a university degree to be considered for a job then you should put the Education section first.

Always include the following information in this section and list the most recent first – remember that your new employer may want / need to see evidence for any items you list here so make sure the information is as accurate as possible!

  • Name of Course / Qualification
  • Awarding Body (this is normally written on the certificate if you don’t already know this information)
  • Dates you completed the training / course / qualification and date awarded
  • Grade Achieved (if relevant – some courses may be ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ only)
  • Short overview of key aspects you think are important or particularly enjoyed


As above, it’s up to you if you switch this section with the previous.  As always, list the most recent first and include the following information, making sure the information is as accurate as possible as you may need to provide evidence (depending on whether it is a requirement for the job and what the employer’s policies are – they normally let you know if they need this evidence)

  • University / College / School Name & Town
  • Dates Attended
  • Qualifications & Grades – it is up to you if you list individual subjects and grades or just give a summary e.g. GCSE Maths Grade C or 7 x GCSEs Grades A-C
  • If you have a degree level qualification relevant to the field of work then you can always include a short overview of key aspects you think are important or particularly enjoyed

Personal Interests & Hobbies

Particularly anything related to the job or which shows you are committed e.g. “I have been an active member of the Bristol Yacht Society for 10 years”, “I have volunteered with the Red Cross offering first aid services since 2010”.  Anything team sport orientated is also great for showing that you can be a competitive, supportive team player!


These don’t always have to be listed but saying that “suitable references can be provided upon request’ is usually enough at this stage – if you do list a contact name and contact details make sure you ask them beforehand just in case the company contacts them prior to meeting with you!

Covering Letters

It is always advisable, wherever possible, for you to put together a brief covering letter explaining why you think your skills and experience make you suitable for the particular job.  Remember – you need to tell the company why they should employ you and what benefits you will bring to them because even the most employee focussed companies just want to know what you can do for them at this stage.  Most job applications will include relevant experience and essential or desirable skills and attributes, try to include evidence of some of these within your covering letter to make your application stand out for all the right reasons.

Application Forms

These can take many shapes and can be short and simple or very long and complex!  Most of the information is often already included within your CV (if you’ve followed the general rules above), but unless they say it’s ok to do so, do not be tempted to refer someone to a part of your CV or worse to just send your whole CV instead of completing their specific application form as they will just ignore and/or delete you!