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Using bold for job titles and schools

It's a good idea to use the "bold" style for job titles and employer names in your work experience and education to make these stand out.


2003-2010 St. Paul's Girls' School, London

A-levels:Chemistry B, Biology A, Maths C

Summer 2011 Next Retail (Sales Assistant)
The job entailed working in the busy sale, taking deliveries, stock control and dealing with customers with high quality customer care.

In a survey of American employers

  • 33% preferred the use of bold on job titles in the candidate's work history
  • 7% preferred the use of bold on employer names from candidate work history
  • 31% preferred bold on both
  • 29% had no preference

Different Types of CV

  • Chronological - outlining your career historyin date order, normally beginning with the most recent items (reverse chronological) . This is the "conventional" approach and the easiest to prepare. It is detailed, comprehensive and biographical and usually works well for "traditional" students with a good all-round mixture of education and work experience. Mature students, however, may not benefit from this approach, which does emphasise your age, any career breaks and work experience which has little surface relevance to the posts you are applying for now. See an example chronological CV here
  • Skills-based: highly-focused CVs which relate your skills and abilities to a specific job or career area byhighlighting these skills and your major achievements. The factual, chronological details of your education and work history are subordinate. These work well formature graduates and for anybody whose degree subject and work experience is not directly relevant to their application. Skills-based CVs should be closely targeted to a specific job. See an example skills-based CV here


A survey of US employers found that:

  • 49% preferred a traditional reverse chronological CV (all jobs listed in reverse chrological order including duties)
  • 6% preferred a skills-based CV with skills related to the job highlighted
  • 39% liked a combination of both the above styles
  • 2% liked a portfolio with examples of completed projects
  • 4% had no preference


If you are applying for posts outside the UK, remember that employers in other countries are likely to have different expectations of what a CV should include and how it should be laid out. The "Global Resume and CV Handbook" (available from Reception) and the Prospects website will help you prepare CVs for overseas employment.See our work abroad page.

Targeting your CV

If your CV is to be sent to an individual employer which has requested applications in this format, you should research the organisation and the position carefully.

In the present competitive job market, untargeted CVs tend to lose out to those that have been written with a particular role in mind. For example a marketing CV will be very different from a teaching CV. The marketing CV will focus on persuading, negotiating and similar skills where as the teaching CV will focus more on presenting andlistening skills and evidence for these.

If your CV is to be used for speculative applications, it is still important to target it - at the very least, on the general career area in which you want to work. Use our I Want to Work in .... pages and sites such as www.prospects.ac.uk to get an idea of what the work involves and what skills and personal qualities are needed to do it successfully. This will enable you to tailor the CV to the work and to bring out your own relevant experience.

Even if you are using the same CV for a number of employers, you should personalise thecovering letter - e.g. by putting in a paragraph on why you want to work for that organisation.

For example CVs, application forms and covering letters see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/cvexamples.htm with notes highlighting points relating to the content and style.

How NOT to do it One graduate had emailed out over 80 CVs without getting a single reply and was puzzled as to why. I asked him to show me what he had sent out. He had sent identical CVs and letters to all the companies in one mass email. Recruiters opening the email could see the names of the 80 companies he had applied to in the "To: " box of the email!

Emailed CVs and Web CVs

  • Put yourcovering letteras the body of your email. It's wise to format it as plain text as then it can be read by any email reader.
  • Emails are not as easy to read as letters. Stick to simple text with short paragraphs and plenty of spacing.Break messages into points and make each one a new paragraph with a full line gap between paragraphs. DON'T "SHOUT": WRITE IN UPPER CASE!
  • Your CV is then sent as an attachment.Say you'll send a printed CV if required.

In which format should you send your CV?

A survey of American recruiters found that:

  • 63% preferred MS Office Word format .doc
  • 36% preferred Adobe Acrobat format .pdf
  • 1% preferred rich-text format .rtf
  • 0% preferred text format .txt
  • 0% preferred web page format .html
According to Professor Tom Jackson, of Loughborough University, “Misunderstandings occur frequently via written communication. In fact, 68 per cent of employees said the emails they receive are sometimes difficult to decipher, whether it be a misinterpreted tone or rushed explanations.” The most common mistakes made via email include:
  • Accidentally clicking send before the email is ready;
  • Embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes;
  • Accidentally sending a kiss at the end of a message;
  • Copying a client into an internal email about them;
  • Forwarding an inappropriate email trail;
  • Forgetting an attachment; and
  • Forgetting to blind copy (BCC) on a email (seethe example above!)


PDF (portable document format) is perhaps becoming a widely used format now . There are PDF-readers for all platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux). This also guarantees that the CV will look the same, no matter what reader is used to view the document. Modern versions of Microsoft Word contain a PDF export function or you can download a free pdf converter such as Cute pdf www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp: you install it and then "print" the document to a folder on your PC. PDFs can however sometimes prevent keyword-scanning software on job boards or applicant-tracking systems from picking up information that allows you to be found.

You can also use MS Word (.doc) format, however .doc format is not guaranteed to be compatible among different versions of Microsoft Word, so a CV might look garbled when opened with an outdated or newer version of Word. Also .doc files may not easily open on computers using Linux and Apple platforms. .doc-files may also contain sensitive information such as previous versions of a document perhaps leading to embarrassment. MS Word documents can contain macro viruses, so some employers may not open these. Send the CV in .doc (Word 2003) format, rather than .docx (Word 2010) format, as not everyone has upgraded to Word 2010, or downloaded the free file converter.

Rich Text Format (.rtf), or html (web page format) are other alternatives but as can be seen from the above survey are not usually preferred.

If in doubt send your CV in several formats. Email it back to yourself first to check it, as line lengths may be changed by your email reader.

Also see How to Send a Resume by E-mail

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