Creating a CV

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a detailed summary of your past experience. The way you present yourself on a CV is perhaps the most important point when an employer looks to filling a vacancy. A good CV can improve your chances of getting an interview.

​What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) should be used for speculative applications or when you are asked to ‘apply in writing’. A CV allows you to present information in the way that you wish. You can be much more flexible and concentrate on areas you want to highlight and which are particularly relevant for the type of post you are seeking.


What should I say on my CV?

A CV normally includes:
Personal details: This should include your name, address, telephone number (including the local dialling code), date of birth and any other details you wish to include.
Education, qualifications and training: Put these in order starting with the most recent. Name the university, colleges and schools that you have attended together with exams taken (or to be taken). Accurate dates are important. Normally the number of GCSEs at grade A*-C (or equivalent), the subjects studied post-16 (with grades) and any more recent qualifications should be included. If you have failed an exam you should state that you studied the course.
Work experience: Put these in order starting with the last job you had. Say where the job was, give the job title and what you did briefly, and the skills you used and experiences gained. Even details of work in a pub or shop and short work experience placements can add to your chances.
Hobbies and interests: Try to include the things that really interest you. Be selective about what you put down, never exceed about four or five points. Emphasise activities which relate to the job you are applying for.
Your interest should always reflect you as a rounded person with balanced interests. Always include information about whether you are involved in any sports or whether you sit on any committees or have leadership roles.
Don’t include any interests such as drinking, socialising or other activities of this sort. Use this section to highlight your skills such as leadership, team working, attention to detail, ability to get on with people, creativity, teaching others etc.
References: You should normally include at least two references on any CV; if possible one should be from a previous employer, the second should be someone who can provide an academic reference, such as your tutor. If you are currently employed, always include your present employer. Try to choose referees who know you well and who will be able to point out your skills, such as a teacher who knows you. Always check with them first. Give their job titles and full address.

What makes a good CV?

It should be typed and, if printed, presented on white A4 paper. Ideally it should be no more than two pages long and be in a sensible font and size. If you have to use a small font size to keep it to two pages you should aim to cut down on the content or use shorter sentences. A CV should be clearly and neatly laid out and all details checked carefully, the spelling, grammar, dates, postcodes, etc.
Be positive and to the point. Remember it is your personal CV so highlight your strengths. The object of writing a CV is to tell the employer about yourself, your abilities and your skills. Try to start with a punchy statement that will catch the attention of the reader. You need to make your CV so interesting that an employer will want to read it right to the end and follow it up!

Should I write a covering letter?

Always include a covering letter with your CV in speculative applications or in reply to an advertisement.
The letter should be word processed or hand written and well presented. State why you are writing to that particular company, state the job title, if any, or reference number and where you saw the vacancy. Try to find out the name of the person who deals with the applications for the company and write directly to them.
The letter allows you to highlight your experience and interests that are specific to the job you are applying for; although they maybe mentioned on the CV you can say why they are particularly relevant to the role you are applying for.
Check your spelling and grammar are correct. 

Case study

Pharmacokineticist (DMPK) – Video

Maria, Clinical Pharmacologist I am involved in drug discovery, the early phase of drug development, where a lot of compounds are screened for their properties.