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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre


What is a C.V.?

CVs typically form part of the application process for part-time and vacation jobs, work experience (including placements and internships) and graduate roles. You may also be required to submit a CV when applying for further study. If you are approaching companies to explore potential opportunities for work experience or employment, you would typically send a copy of your CV.

A CV should show a prospective employer what you have to offer in terms of your skills, experience and qualifications. It's important to remember that a CV isn't simply a list of everything you've done - it should be a carefully constructed marketing document, targeted at a specific opportunity and employer and demonstrating what you can bring to the role.

There isn't a single approach in respect of the layout, order and content within a CV Your experiences are unique and your CV should be individual too. Have a look at our helpsheet with some example CVs to see the ways in which key information could be presented, typical headings and content areas to include.

Top Tips!

  • Be concise - employers often spend just 30 seconds on a CV - make sure your document stands out!
  • Use the vacancy advertisement and aim to incorporate key requirements with appropriate context in your CV; typically an employer will specify required skills, experience and qualifications
  • Accuracy is important; check spelling, grammar and phrasing and seek support where needed
  • Consider information to present throughout your CV : What have you done so far? (experiences/responsibilities) What skills/knowledge have you applied/developed? What impact have you had in your roles or activities?
  • Print out your C.V. and 'be the employer' - does it look easy to read? clear? relevant to the role? too long? too short? Be critical - would you invite yourself to an interview after receiving this CV?!

Further support

  • Access our CV help sheets below and check out the wide range of books and resources in our Information Room.
  • Explore GoinGlobal country guides to review CV formats in others countries
  • Attend employer and careers skills sessions throughout the term, to support your applications - find information about employer events at the Student Services Portal
  • Speak to employers at events, to seek their advice on making an effective application.

Watch our video presentations on writing a great CV:

  • PART 1: The different elements of the recruitment process and how to identify what employers are looking for
  • PART 2: How to effectively structure your CV, relevant sections and logical ordering
  • PART 3: Exercise comparing CVs to identify what makes a great first impression, effective tailoring, and an overview of the content of key sections.

Additional information