This article will explain what a curriculum vitae (CV) is and provide some basic tips for writing a CV. It will also tell you where you can find further help and guidance with CVs.

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a brief summary of your achievements and skills and is sent to recruiters when applying for jobs, training places and, occasionally, courses of study. The Career and Employability Service is here to help you with all aspects of applying for jobs, including help with your CV.

What do I include on my CV?

There is no such thing as the perfect CV! There are no set rules about CV writing and the structure and format can vary significantly depending on the purpose. Below is a list of pointers to get you started, but there are different types of CVs. Please have a look at the examples the Careers and Employability Service has put together for you.

  • Two sides of A4 are currently considered the right length for a chronological CV.
  • Contact details at the top of the CV should be brief and printed across the top to save space.
  • You can start your CV with a brief profile or objective - just a few lines, highlighting key information that will be of interest to the reader. Think of it as being like a newspaper headline or a ‘sound bite,’ designed to capture interest at the start!
  • Make the first page your 'power page' – get all the relevant information in this space, such as placing your relevant work experience on page one and other experience on page two.
  • Avoid the first person use of ‘I’ – this helps you get to the point more quickly. 
  • It is essential to take time to check spelling and grammar and check your layout to ensure your style and format is consistent throughout.
  • Some employers electronically scan CVs and applications to check for keywords so target each and every application and use terminology which is relevant to the vacancy.

Do you have example CVs?

The Career and Employability Service have written and developed a range of example CVs to give you an idea about the layout and important things to include for specific sectors.

Titles include;

  • CV writing guide - in-depth guide to help you write a winning CV, including CV styles and guidelines on layout.
  • Academic
  • Architecture
  • Biology
  • Computing
  • Creative CVs
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Law
  • Part-time CVs
  • Petroleum
  • Skills based CV

The following leaflets will also be helpful when constructing your CV:

  • CV Checklist - use this checklist to quickly review your CV.
  • Action Verbs - a guide to help you describe your skills, accomplishments and abilities in dynamic and interesting terms when writing your CV.
  • Key Skills Audit - identify your current skill set when writing CV, application forms and attending interview.

To view these please visit our website.

Where can I get my CV reviewed?

The Career and Employability Service have a dedicated team of friendly, experienced advisers on hand to talk to you. You can drop-in at the Career and Employability Centre at any time during our opening hours or call us on +44 (0) 23 9284 2684. You can also access a wide range of information and advice on our website at


How to Contact us

Visit us at:

Careers and Employability Service

University of Portsmouth

28 Guildhall Walk



Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday: 8.30am–5pm

Friday: 8.30am–4pm


Telephone or Email:

t: +44 (0)23 9284 2684


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