CV writing made clear

Otherwise known as a Curriculum Vitae or a resume, a CV is an outline and summary of a person’s work, educational and professional background. A good CV is vital when applying for jobs; here you will find useful hints and tips to help create one that is best suited to you.

  • Personal details – Your name, address, telephone number(s) and email – you do not need to include your date of birth.
  • Certification, and qualifications – Seafarer posts particularly should list their seafarer certificates and dates achieved. Followed by academic qualifications (degrees, A levels and GCSEs or equivalent), all with where you studied and the dates they were obtained.
  • Work experience – Start with your most relevant job and work backwards. Include your position, name of the company, dates worked and a few bullet points outlining your main responsibilities.
  • Skills – Highlight your skills that are necessary for the job you are applying.
  • References – unless asked for beforehand, references are normally provided on request


Personal Profile – You can include a couple of sentences that summarise your skills, ambitions and work qualities at the start of the CV. It can give an immediate impression to help you to stand out from the crowd.

Interests – You can include interests that are relevant to your work experience or representative to your life outside of work.

The order and the emphasis will depend on what you are applying for and what you have to offer. If you are sending multiple applications to different employers for different types of job, you may want to tailor your CV to each employer, highlighting different aspects of your skills and experience.

Employers tend to glance over CV’s quickly, so it must be clearly laid out, easy to read and logically ordered. Make sure the content, spelling and grammar is accurate. If you mention attention to detail as a skill, make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect!

Be concise – don’t feel that you have to list every exam you have ever taken, or every activity you have ever been involved in – consider which are the most relevant and/or impressive. Your CV should be no more than two pages, not double-sided. You can put your name in the footer area so that it appears on each sheet.

Be positive – highlight your strong points and your achievements or successes in each job role or qualification – for example, if you won a prize or certificate whilst studying.

Be honest – you must never give inaccurate or misleading information.

*There is no need to mention salaries required or earned

Do not send out a general speculative email to several employers at once. Employers can see the other companies listed in the mass mail out and it may look unprofessional.

There are three main types of CV – chronological, skills-based and combined. The outlines below will concentrate on chronological and skills-based formats.

There is no single ‘right’ way to format your CV; you can follow any of these outlines and adapt them to describe your experiences.

Chronological CV

This is the most common type of CV and particularly useful for demonstrating career progression as your work history is listed in reverse order, starting with the most recent first. It also contains details of your certification and qualifications, together with relevant skills. Some chronological CVs contain a brief personal statement at the top of the CV, setting out your key skills and strengths.

Skills-based CV

A skills-based CV emphasises your personal qualities and transferable skills rather than your employment history and is a popular and useful format for people with minimum or varied work experience. The focus will be on your education and key skills and achievements. You may want to include a short personal statement at the top of your CV.


This information also relates to Cover Letters

Information Errors

Many Cover Letters and CVs contain mistakes, such as an old mobile number or an incorrectly typed email address. Check the details, and when you’ve checked them, check them again, then ask someone you trust to check it!

Spelling and Grammar Errors

If spelling and grammar are not your strong points, ask someone else to read and check your CV for errors. If you are using Microsoft Word, make sure you have the UK spell checker on.

Quality not quantity

If you haven’t got much experience, try not to fill out your cover letter or CV with unnecessary information. Make them relevant, interesting and to the point.


If you have highlighted your skills, achievements or qualifications in your CV, make sure it is backed up by examples in your cover letter, not just repeated.


Readers of a cover letter will see through any attempts to make vague statements that might apply to anyone. Back up statements with examples.

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