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UAL: How to write a successful CV

Category: Career Experts, education, Employer, experience, qualification, information, potential, portfolio

Image of mannequin with a CV

University of the Arts London: How to write a successful CV (curriculum vitae).

Writing an up-to-date and relevant CV (Curriculum Vitae) is an important first step when job hunting. These guidelines for writing your CV, also known as a resume, include information about structure, content and layout. There are downloadable CV templates to help you get started.

Writing a good CV can be challenging. The skills or experience needed for each application may differ. You should adapt your CV for each position you apply for to make sure the relevant skills are highlighted and the tone is right. It's important to get things such as layout and content right as your CV may be the only information a potential employer has about you.

~ Structure

When structuring your content it is worth remembering:

  • Employers have very little time to read CVs.
  • They have to scan a large number of CVs so keep key information relevant to the job at the beginning of the CV.
  • The Key Skills section should relate directly to what the employer is looking for, so this should go at the top.
  • If your work experience is relevant, position this section before the Education section.

If you don’t have much work experience and your education is very relevant then place this section before the Work Experience section.

~ Content

Keep your CV concise and relevant. It should not be longer than two pages – in fact sometimes you may be requested to send a one-page CV, which can be hard to produce.

  • Keep your CV concise and relevant.
  • It should not be longer than two pages. Sometimes you might have to send a one-page CV.
  • Avoid using long paragraphs; bullet points help you highlight key information and make it easier to read.

~ Personal details

Include your name, mobile number and email address at the top of the CV. You do not have to give your full address but stating the town or area helps potential employer knows where you are based.

  • If you have a LinkedIn profile, consider adding it here.
  • Include links to your website and/or online portfolio.
  • You don’t need to provide either your date of birth or your photo.

~ Skills and profile

Make sure your key skills and qualities appear in a prominent position at the begining of your CV.

~ Education

Write your qualifications in reverse chronological order, listing the most recent first. List each qualification together with the date they were awarded and the institution you attended. Include additional information about qualifications if they are relevant to the role you are applying for.

~ Work experience

Write your qualifications in reverse chronological order, listing the most recent first. Include the dates of employment, the name of the company and your role with clear descriptions of duties. Focus on those that relate to the job you are applying for.

~ Exhibitions, collections, awards, publications and commissions

Add these under Key Skills ,Work experience or Education depending on relevance.

Further skills

Add your IT skills, languages or any other skills that are relevant to the role you are applying for.


Include activities and interests that directly or indirectly relate to your industry here.


At the very end of your CV you should write “References available on request”. Two references are standard. If you do not have two work references, ask a college tutor to write one.

~ Layout

Consider who you are sending the CV to, and what you think they will appreciate. Most importantly your CV must be easy to read and the content should include everything the employer needs to know.

Here are a few basic principles to bear in mind:

  • For most non-design positions, a traditional format is appropriate. For design-related positions you may want to use the layout of your CV to showcase your design skills.
  • Text for traditional CVs should normally be black rather than colour. Adding some colour could make your CV stand out... But make sure it is suitable for the reader or employer.
  • If you are a designer looking for work you may want to use branding that matches your online portfolio or website.

~ Images

If you plan to use images make sure that the visuals are of high quality and do not make the text difficult to read.

~ Artists' CVs and statements

Different guidlines apply for an artist or designer-maker's CV.It is usually sent for a very specific purpose or position such as an exhibition, competition or a residency. This CV should include information that is relevant to your artistic or design achievements. It should not include unrelated positions and education.

Most artists/designer-makers include a statement about their work and philosophy. This can be several paragraphs long and include any of the following:

  • The ways your work has developed
  • Where it is going
  • The materials or skills that you use
  • The meaning of your work
  • Your ambitions
  • Your intended market
  • Your influences
  • Personal reflections
  • Key themes in your work
  • Your personal and professional beliefs/ethics

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