Writing a CV

Whether you are applying for a role for the FE sector, an independent training or adult learning service, a great CV can make all the difference. Here we offer our top tips on how to present yourself as the best person for the role.


Do I need a CV?

In most cases the answer is yes – especially if you are applying for a role via an agency.

However, many training providers and colleges will only ask you to fill out an application form, alongside a supporting statement (similar to a covering letter). In either case, it’s always a good idea to have an up-to-date CV you can use for reference and tailor accordingly to fit the company and role you’re applying for.


Where should I start?

Whether you have been using the same format for years or you are starting from scratch, there are some general rules to follow when it comes to designing a CV which makes a good first impression.

“The CV’s which frustrate me are the ones where someone has taken a template from somewhere and it’s written in the third person.”

“They may write something like ‘An enthusiastic motivator with the willingness to succeed’. That to me doesn’t come over as being personal. I’d prefer something where you can see the person has thought about it and put something together which reflects themselves and their personality.” Carla Tudbury-Jones, Director of Quality at ProVQ, provider of apprenticeship programmes to the Automotive Industry.

The format:

  • Keep it concise, clear and easily readable
  • Use bullet points where necessary
  • Avoid using too many fonts, confusing layouts or disorganised sections
  • Aim for no more than two sides of A4, with clear headings

Check and double-check grammar and spelling, and make sure to delete any information relating to another job. Take your time – a rushed CV is usually littered with needless mistakes, which could end up costing you an interview.


What should I include in my CV?

“The CVs which stand out for us are the ones that don’t just list their duties under the section on experience, but list their achievements. I’m looking for CVs which include teachers’ attention to attendance and retention and any improvements they’ve made.” Andrew McGuigan, HR Manager-Resourcing at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.

Contact details:
Your address, contact telephone numbers and email address.
Opening statement/professional profile/career summary:
Outline key attributes, achievements and skills in around 200 words.
Education and professional qualifications:
Include the start and completion dates, name of institution and outline of the course.
Career history/experience:
Briefly list your past jobs, employers and dates, with the most recent at the top.
Include two recent referees and their contact details.


What you don’t need to include:

  • A photo
  • Your address, if you are posting your CV online
  • Your date of birth
  • Hobbies – unless they are relevant to your application
  • Your marital status or how many children you have
  • Dishonesty – lying about qualifications is classed as fraud.


Continuing professional development

Employers want to see your commitment to continuing professional development (CPD), so it’s important you provide details of any ongoing or planned training.

To add another dimension to your CV and the application and interview process, complete our self-assessment tool to highlight how well you currently perform against the Professional Standards. This will help you to identify your professional skills, values, knowledge and understanding, which you can transfer across to your CV.

Working on your Professional Development Plan will also encourage you to consider how and when you will undertake CPD activity, as well as looking ahead to your overall career development and aspirations.

“Because it’s such a rapidly changing sector, in reality I’m only looking at the person’s last two or three years’ experience. Anything that goes back 10 years I’m not really interested in.”

“I want to know what people have been doing recently, what experience they have and their qualifications, alongside any CPD activities undertaken or planned, such as prevent and safeguarding.” Philip Broomhead is the Quality Manager at Riverside Training, a private training provider offering apprenticeships through SFA contracts.


Final tips for writing a successful CV

There is no one-size fits all approach to writing a CV. Employers are looking for something that persuades them that you should work for their company. Do your research to find out what the training provider or college is looking for, use language which shows you are fully aware of what is going on in the sector and avoid clichés, which have little meaning when it comes to the bigger picture.

“We’re very open-minded with our recruitment process. We will always shortlist CVs on the competencies we’re looking for and the information they’ve given us in terms of how they think they would be suited to the role.”

“We take on people who have been in the workplace and have never been involved in training before. We also take on people who are already trainers and have worked somewhere else but want a change.

“The most important thing is that their CV shows passion and enthusiasm, and is tailored to the job. We’re expecting employees to have two sets of skills – technical and training – so when someone is applying for one of our roles, we’re not just looking for someone who is ticking boxes and going through the process.” Carla Tudbury-Jones, Director of Quality at ProVQ, provider of apprenticeship programmes to the Automotive Industry.