CAREER BRIEF

Toolkit: How to write a great non-academic CV

The traditional CV has a strict page limit and should focus on your skills and employment history.

The basics

Length. Ideally you should ensure that a non-academic CV is no longer than two pages. The important parts must be easy for a potential employer to find.

Structure. Separate your CV into clear sections. The order can change depending on the job being applied for (for example, if employment is more relevant than education, put your work history section first), but the sections should be roughly in the following order:

• Brief personal details and career summary

• Education

• Employment history

• Professional skills (all included skills should be relevant to the job)

• Links to other supplementary material such as a blog, LinkedIn profile or portfolio as appropriate

Design. Be consistent with line breaks, bullet points, fonts and other details. Use templates available online through Google Docs and elsewhere to help make a stunning CV.

Proofreading. Everyone can make a mistake when writing their CV. Ask someone to check every word.

Examples

See the two examples of model CVs here, by Imperial College London’s careers service

Dynamic verbs

Use dynamic verbs, which are specific, exciting words that demonstrate changes and accomplishments. Examples include accomplished, led, designed, developed, published, managed, ran, wrote, formulated, fixed and founded.

Geographical differences

It is common in some countries to include a picture of yourself. If you are in doubt, look for examples of CVs that are specific to the part of the world in which you are applying for a job.

Find out more

You can read Imperial College London’s guide to writing a CV here.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01363-8

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