CVs explained

A CV is a short, factual document that you use to market yourself to employers or organisations. Often accompanied by a cover letter – which provides the narrative around the facts – these two documents form an ‘application’ for a vacancy. Refer to our cover letter guidance for more information.

Different types of CV

  • Chronological – great basic format for listing all your paid and voluntary work experience. This CV is the most common type of CV requested by employers.
  • Skills-based – useful for drawing attention to relevant skills if you are still building up work experience.
  • Academic – focuses on academic achievements, teaching experience and research publications, and can be longer than the usual one or two pages.
  • Creative – likely to be requested for job applications within design and marketing.
  • Video – employers recruiting for customer facing roles may request this style.
  • For legal roles or positions in teaching you may have to adopt a unique style of writing or editing that highlights certain aspects of your professional and academic experience.

Check out Prospect's CV guidance to explore different types of CV.

Top tips

  • Update your CV (and LinkedIn profile!) regularly, and tailor the CV to every job you apply for.
  • Choose a simple format and layout and limit yourself to one or two different fonts.
  • Remember to use short, punchy bullet points for maximum impact. Try the Power Verbs Generator on CareerHub+, to generate energetic and professional language for your CV and applications.
  • Accuracy is essential. Minimise mistakes by proofreading your document before submission.
  • Too much content? Let us help you streamline your CV into two pages or less – attend our drop-in sessions.

Blind CV recruitment

Blind recruitment is sometimes used by employers to make recruitment as inclusive and unbiased as possible. If you are requested to provide a blind CV, you must ensure you remove any details that the employer asks you to, which is usually any information that may reveal details about your identity. For example, if your email address contains your name, you must remove it as this may reveal your gender. You may need to remove the dates of your education, as this could reveal your age. Some organisations may even request that you remove your place of study and your interests.

Applicant tracking systems

Many large organisations use applicant tracking systems (ATS) as part of their screening process. Ensure your CV gets past this stage by following our top tips.

  • Include keywords that are found in the person specification such as certain skills and attributes and qualifications needed.
  • Format your CV correctly using font size no smaller than 10 points and at least half inch margins – keep away from tabular style CVs, and avoid using images and custom fonts.
  • Submit your CV as a word document and avoid PDFs.

Try using our free CV feedback tool to optimise your CV for ATS software. Upload your current CV to get instant, detailed feedback. 

Country specifications

Depending on where you are applying for work, the look, content, and format of your CV may change in line with a country’s requirements. For example, a CV with a photograph of the candidate is frowned upon in the UK, but in the United Arab Emirates it is completely acceptable. In Singapore, they expect to see the full contact details of your references, whereas in the UK we only provide this information in the final stages of recruitment.

To navigate international CVs there are plenty of resources online offering advice such as Goinglobal.

Further support

For more information, advice and support with CVs, email or visit to book an event or 1-1 appointment.

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