How to write your CV

Advice on what to include in your CV and how to structure it

Consider the skills and attributes you have developed and demonstrated through your postgraduate degree. These might include: 

  • Willingness to learn and develop 

  • Specialisation in relevant subject area 

  • Commitment and motivation 

  • Project management experience 

  • Analytical and problem-solving skills 

  • Maturity 

  • Ability to work independently  

Keep these in mind when you’re writing your CV – they could make you stand out from other candidates.  

Watch our Quick Guide to CVs. This film runs through the basics of writing an effective CV, including what employers are looking for, content, formatting and presentation. 

Here’s more detail on the key points. 

How to tailor your CV 

This means making it easy for the employer to see the link between what you have done, the skills you have developed, and their job description.  

Think about everything you’ve done so far – work, study, positions of responsibility, and achievements – and ask yourself what skills you’ve developed, and what qualities you’ve demonstrated in each role. Research the job you’re applying for to make sure you know what qualifications, skills and experience they’re looking for. Then make the link between them - match the skills and experience required with the evidence of your suitability. 

On Careers Service Plus you can find how to tailor your CV to the role (UoE login details required):

Tailor your CV to the role

What to include in your CV 

Personal details 

  • your name, address, email address, phone number and, if appropriate, links to your LinkedIn profile or blog 

  • you don’t need to include a photo, your date or place of birth, gender or nationality

Personal profile 

  • if you choose to include this, use it to summarise what you have to offer, and highlight why you are motivated towards a particular career 

  • the best personal statements are focused, to-the point, and avoid generalisations such as 'I am hard-working'  

  • if your personal statement doesn’t add anything to your CV, don’t include it  


  • details of your university, qualifications, relevant degree courses, major projects completed, dissertation, and degree classification 

Employment and work experience  

  • describe your responsibilities and skills used for each position 

  • if appropriate, divide this section into relevant experience and additional work experience  

Additional skills and interests  

  • don't just list these, describe your involvement and emphasise your achievements, keeping them recent and relevant 

How to structure your CV   

CVs can be structured in different ways.  

Chronological CV: this is the most used format and includes a detailed education and work experience section in reverse chronological order. It can highlight how you have progressed over time, so may not be suitable if you have changed jobs a lot or are looking at a career change.  

Skills based CV: this uses the skills required for the job as its structure and gives evidence to demonstrate that you have these skills. This can be a good approach if you have lots of experience in one career area, and want to change careers, or if you’ve had lots of short-term jobs and want to summarise the skills you’ve developed.  

Combination CV: a combination of the chronological CV and the skills-based CV. It lists education in reverse chronological order, followed by relevant skills gained from work experience and education. This works well when you want to highlight particular skills for a job. 

Creative CV: most often used for jobs that focus on art, design, visual effects and technology (sometimes also advertising, media and publishing). Watch this recording as part of our March 2023 focus on Creative and Cultural Careers, to understand the differences between creative and traditional CVs and decide what works best for your job search:

#EdCreativeCareers: Focus on Creative CVs (24 minutes, University of Edinburgh login required)

On Careers Service Plus you can find some tips on how to structure your CV (UoE login details required):

Structuring your CV with sections

How long should your CV be  

For the UK a two-page CV is standard (ideally using Arial 12pt font). 

Academic CVs 

If you’re applying for a PhD, follow this  CV advice:  

Applications and CVs for Further Study  

Example CVs  

Example CVs for UoE Students

US resumes 

US resumes 

Using generative AI to create your CV

Technologies such as ChatGPT can provide a reasonable basic structure for you to build upon, but what they give you is unlikely to be tailored convincingly and will be bland and generic, and unlikely to impress employers. Use them as a support and starting point if you like - but edit their product to make the end result your own.  

Remember these points:

  • adapt the content generated, to make it more closely related to you -otherwise it will lack impact
  • be cautious about submitting any personal data, as whatever you put in could be in the public domain 
  • you may be risking plagiarism, as these systems incorporate, in their output, content produced by other people without acknowledging or referencing them 

The Bayes Centre at the University has produced general guidance on the use of AI.

AI guidance for staff and students - Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh 

Getting feedback on your CV

After putting your CV through CV360 you can use your careers appointment to ask for feedback on your CV.

Read about our appointments system here:

Our appointments system 

Book an appointment (MyCareerHub)

Top tips: CVs (Media Hopper)