CVs and applications

Create and improve your CV and application

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Writing a CV sells your skills, strengths and achievements that are relevant to opportunities you're applying for. You should show the employer that you match the criteria they're looking for. If you do so, you'll be shortlisted for an interview.

There's no perfect format for a CV. Consider that an employer is likely to receive a lot of CVs and won't have much time. Lay details out so that they're easy to find - the reader will always appreciate a clear, brief CV.

To find out more about examples of CVs please log on to our Careers Portal.

Applying for a part-time job? There's a lot of competition, so spend time on getting your CV right to increase your chance of getting an interview.

Keep these golden rules in mind. Your CV should highlight:

  • your work experience (paid or unpaid), including your responsibilities and what skills you gained
  • your strengths in terms of your skills and capabilities in relation to the job you're applying for
  • how you'll be an asset to the employer
  • your current contact details.

Put the most relevant information on the first page. This could be either your work history or your skills, depending on your background and the job you are applying for.

Covering letters 

Send a covering letter with a CV or application form to boost your overall application. Usually no more than a page in length, they can be used to:

  • emphasise your skills and experience in relation to an advertised job
  • create a positive and professional first impression
  • explain anything not covered in your CV, such as availability.

Make your covering letter stands out by tailoring it to the organisation you're applying to. Show that you've thought about why you want to work for them in particular. Detail the skills and experience you have, to make sure they want to employ you. For example:

  • I am applying to work for you because...
  • I can offer...

For more information – Career Navigator.

Application forms

Before you start your application form, take time to figure out what the employer really wants. One employer says:

“We need graduate employees who have the competencies we seek, together with the personal and academic qualities to achieve high standards of performance in the job. Ultimately they need to contribute to the effectiveness of our organisation.” 

This is a fairly typical response.    

Research the exact requirements of the job by:

  • analysing the job description
  • researching the organisation via their website and any literature available
  • meeting the employer if possible at careers fairs and other networking events
  • talking to careers advisers, tutors, alumni, friends and family.

Personal statements

Personal or supporting statements are one of the most important sections of an application form. This is where you describe how your skills, abilities, knowledge and experience make you a suitable candidate. It's your opportunity to tell the employer or course provider why you're the best person for the job or course. They'll assess your statement against the essential and desirable criteria listed in the person specification. Use those criteria as headings. Provide evidence against each one. Show how you meet them.

Personal statements are often asked for in applications for postgraduate study, such as MBAs or postgraduate teacher training. 

  • Don't use the same statement for all applications. Each statement will need a slightly different emphasis, depending on the institution you're applying to.
  • Research the university and course/research area. Find out what sets your choice apart from other universities, and get this across in your statement.