Curriculum Vitae

Applying for work or further study? You'll want to market your skills and experience in the best way possible to get your application noticed and selected by employers and recruiters.

Make your CV, application form or speculative application stand out from the crowd. Follow these simple steps:

  • Read the key help guides our staff have put together.
  • Check out the links for sources of further help and information.
  • Come along to our events for advice, workshops and a chance to meet employers.
  • Visit the Careers Service for one-to-one help and advice with your application.

  • See the tabs below to find out more about different kinds of application, what to include in them, and how the Careers Service can help you.

    CVs and covering letters

    CVs vary widely. The key for any good CV is to make it relevant to the job you are applying for. Please see our PDF guide or click on the example CVs below.

    CVs and covering letters guide

    CVs and covering letters booklet (PDF, 748 KB)

    Download the guide from our Careers Advisers for advice about creating your CV or covering letter.

    Please note: The advice here is relevant to UK employers - employers overseas may have different rules and expectations for a CV (or resume). Check out our International work and study pages for details of requirements in other countries.

    Example CVs

    See the following for additional examples of effective CVs in various formats:

    Example covering letters

    See the following for examples of effective covering letters:

    Further information

    The following links provide further information and advice for writing CVs and covering letters:

    Application forms

    The first stage of the application process for many employment vacancies and graduate schemes is to complete an application form. This may be a hardcopy form but the majority of application forms are now submitted online. Have a look at the advice and resources below to help you market your skills and experience effectively.

    Application forms guide

    Application forms booklet (PDF, 1,808 KB)

    Download the guide from our Careers Advisers for advice about creating your CV or covering letter.

    Further information

    The following links provide further information and advice for completing application forms:

    Speculative applications

    If you can't find an advert for the job or work experience you want, applying 'speculatively' means sending a CV and covering letter to an employer asking whether they can offer jobs or work experience. Research has shown that more than 50% of jobs go unadvertised, filled by networking and word of mouth. Speculative applications allow you to tap into this market

      Creative Job Search and Networking (PDF, 625 KB) - Download our guide for hints and practical advice about finding unadvertised work opportunities.

    Click on the headings below for more information about speculative applications, including finding suitable employers and how to approach them.

      +  When are speculative applications useful?

      +  How do you find contacts?

      +  How do you make your application?

    Further information

    There are a number of books and electronic resources available to help you find potential employers and draft speculative applications.

    Postgraduate application forms and personal statements

    Postgraduate application forms are often poorly designed and give insufficient instructions as to how they should be completed – the forms are often designed around a ‘one size fits all’ template, with little scope for allowing you to include non-standard qualifications and achievements. However, the same basic principle applies as when you are completing employer application forms – you need to think about the recruiter’s needs and sell the benefits that you can offer. In this case, the recruiter is the postgraduate admissions tutor, PhD Supervisor or course director.

      How to write a winning statement for postgraduate study - Blog post written by one of our Careers Advisers.

    General information

    Bear in mind that there may only be a limited number of places on the course and competition can be fierce. Admissions tutors will be looking for candidates who have good academic potential, who are motivated and have researched the course and can outline clearly why they want to undertake this course of study. You may want to continue your undergraduate studies as you have a strong interest in the subject, or you may be pursuing a course which will help you enter a particular career area or there may be a combination of reasons. You need to provide evidence of your suitability and what you have done to research this subject.

    Think carefully about the structure of the application. It needs an engaging introduction that doesn't just state the obvious, a main body explaining why you have chosen this course, research topic, and university, and a polite sign-off. You must draw on your previous experience to demonstrate that you have the intellectual ability and academic skills to complete the course successfully.

    Here are some points you need to consider:

    1. Is the programme noted for any speciality? How did you find out about the course? What have you read about the field? Who have you spoken to about it? Are there specific academic staff you would like to study or research with? Are there any particular modules that interest you?
    2. Convey your enthusiasm and motivation for study/research. Refer to relevant projects and dissertations and any prizes you have won. Mention the relevance of your first degree. Refer to any personal and academic skills you can offer and where you gained them eg work experience, clubs and societies, positions of responsibility.
    3. Be clear about your career plans following this qualification - how will it help you to achieve your goals? People with a focus will often work harder to complete their studies.
    4. As with any application always check spelling and grammar. Get someone else to look over the draft before you send it. Be concise and keep to any word limit.

    Golden rules for completing postgraduate application forms

    1. Make sure that you have thoroughly researched the course for which you are applying and can express why you are interested in studying that course at that institution.
    2. Check if there are any deadlines for submitting your application. Many taught postgraduate courses do not have a closing date for applications, although you will find that popular courses fill their places quickly so it is worth submitting an early application in this case.
    3. Think about who you will ask to be your academic referee – it doesn’t need to be your tutor, but should be an academic who can comment on the quality of your work and your academic ability. Try and give them an outline of the courses that you are applying for and why you are interested in pursuing further study as this will help them to write a better reference. Warn them if you are applying to different courses, as they may have to write references several times in different formats!
    4. Ensure that you have completed all the sections of the form and carried out any additional instructions – eg. sending transcripts of undergraduate course content if required, or proof of existing qualifications, obtaining references etc.
    5. For the personal statements on PGCE application forms, admissions tutors are looking for your motivation to teach and evidence that you have gained experience in working with young people. They want to know what you have observed and learned from this. You also need to demonstrate knowledge of current educational and classroom issues as well as relevant subject knowledge, being able to comment on the challenges of teaching, as well as the rewards.
    6. For PhD applications, you should demonstrate a keen interest in your intended research area and provide evidence of how your subject background and experience are relevant. PhD students need to be highly motivated, good at problem-solving and should be organised and able to manage their time effectively. You also need to be able to manage a long-term project and show evidence that you can meet goals. Strong academic references are important, so think about these carefully before you submit your application.

    Help and advice

    Students at a Careers Service workshop

    Need a bit more help or want someone to check over your application with you? The Careers Service has a variety of group sessions and one-to-one appointments available to help you.

    Events and workshops

    The Careers Service holds numerous events throughout the year including sessions on CVs and applications, researching employers and marketing your skills. See our events listings for further information about upcoming sessions and to book onto events online.

    Careers Adviser and Information Specialist appointments

    When you have completed your CV, covering letter or application form you can come in to the Careers Service and speak to the staff on the Welcome Desk. They can refer you for a 15-minute chat with a Careers Adviser who can go through your application with you. They can also refer you to the Resources Help Desk to see an Information Specialist if you need further help researching employers.

    Please note: Our Careers Advisers can give you advice about the content of your CV, covering letter or application form but they won't be able to proofread what you've written for spelling or grammar mistakes.

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