Preparing a CV
This page offers general advice on the preparation of CVs for those who may not be experienced in preparing one. This department offers a wide range of jobs and parts of this advice are more relevant to some positions than others: for example we do not expect applicants for secretarial positions to have publications and we do not need to know the pre-university qualifications of candidates for academic jobs.
If you have an existing CV that you are happy with there is no need to restructure it, though you should ensure that it contains enough information for our purposes.
Please note that the instructions about application procedure (e.g. regarding number of referees) in specific job advertisements and further particulars over-ride anything that is said below.
What is a curriculum vitae ?
A full curriculum vitae is a summary of your personal details, and includes details of your qualifications, employment experience and publications. It is used as an alternative to an application form when applying for jobs and should include the following information:
- Name (in full)
- Full postal address
- Your email address (if you have one)
- Date of birth
- Your qualifications, starting with your highest and going back to your final school qualifications. (include the year you obtained each qualification).
- A list of any relevant awards you gained at school or University (again with dates)
- Your employment record starting with your current or last employment. You should include the start date, end date, job title and for the last three positions a short description of your responsibilities (maximum of one paragraph each.
- A full list, including dates, of all publications which you authored or have co-authored. These should be arranged in date order with the latest first.
- A short (no more than six) list of other interests or skills.
- A list of at least two referees, including their names, positions and contact addresses, one of whom should always be your current or last employer. If you do not wish them to be contacted unless you are going to be offered the position, state that clearly and in most cases it will be honoured. Otherwise make sure they know they are being put forward as your referee and agree to this role.
The key to a good curriculum vitae is to supply enough information without waffle, so keep it short but accurate and above all check your spelling and grammar!
In addition to your curriculum vitae, when applying for a specific position, you should include a letter of application which compares your skills and experience with the requirements (selection criteria) of the post on offer. This enables the selection panel to see exactly why you are a suitable candidate for this particular job and will hopefully help you get to the interview stage.
If the application procedure asks you to give a reference number for the job for which you are applying make sure it is clearly shown at the top of the application letter. Failure to do so may mean your application is put into the wrong group of applications and considered for the wrong post and it also suggests you cannot follow simple instructions, both of which may mean you are not offered an interview.
It is a myth that leaving your application until the last minute improves your chances of success. In practice it means that if anything does go wrong, you will be eliminated for missing the deadline. An application timed to arrive several days before the closing date is far more sensible as it also allows time to correct any problems such as a corrupted file or damaged envelope.