Hi, I’m Martin.
Welcome to Oxford Online English!
In this lesson, you can learn to write a CV or resume in English.
If you’re wondering, ‘CV’ and ‘resume’ have the same meaning.
The word ‘CV’ is more common in the UK, while ‘resume’ is more common in the USA.
Although some people say that there’s a difference, in everyday speech, a CV and a
resume are the same thing: you write a summary of your employment history, your education
and your skills in order to apply for a job.
In this video lesson, you’ll see how to write an effective CV in English.
We’ll share some useful language tips to make your CV clearer.
Before we start, we highly recommend you visit our website: Oxford Online English dot com.
You can find many other free English lessons like this one, on all kinds of topics.
You can also book a lesson with one of our professional teachers to improve your English
But now, let’s look at how to write your CV in English.
We’re going to divide your CV into four sections.
Your personal profile is a short introduction to you, your key skills and your career goals.
It generally goes at the top of your CV, under your contact information.
Not all CVs include a personal profile, but many do.
Many people we’ve spoken to find it the most difficult part to write.
So, if you need a personal profile, what should you include?
Aim to write four to five sentences.
In the first sentence, introduce yourself.
For example: ‘I recently graduated from the University of Toronto in International
Affairs with a 3.8 GPA, and I am seeking employment in the NGO sector.’
‘I am a web development professional looking to move into a senior role in an established
‘I am a cardiology nurse with over ten years’ experience in Spain; I am now looking for
a position in the UK.’
Here, you can see language which you could adapt to your situation.
Take a few seconds: how could you use these sentences to talk about yourself?
Pause the video if you want more time to think about it!
Generally, you should write your personal profile in full sentences in the first person.
You can write in the third person, but this can sound impersonal; it’s simpler to write
in the first person, using ‘I’.
After your introduction, write one to three sentences about the skills you will bring
to the job you’re applying for.
Be specific and focus on the facts.
Avoid using clichés like ‘team player’, ‘good communicator’ or ‘passionate’.
These are overused in job applications; try to *show* your good qualities by giving specific
Let’s look at some examples here: ‘During my degree, I did a six-month internship at
a Toronto-based charity, and also volunteered for two local charitable organisations.
This has given me an understanding of NGO work in both smaller and larger organisations,
as well as the desire to learn more about the field.’
‘Over the last fifteen years, I have honed my technical skills by working on a wide range
of projects, both working individually and in large teams.
Recently, I have developed my managerial abilities by working as a team leader for my current
‘Since I started working as a ward nurse, I have pursued every opportunity to learn
and develop my skills; consequently, I have been working as a specialised cardiology nurse
for the past five years.’
Because your personal profile should be short, it’s useful to organise your ideas using
time references, like ‘during’, ‘over the last … years’, ‘recently’, or
If you’re writing in the first person, this also helps you to avoid repetitive sentence
It doesn’t sound good if every sentence you write starts with ‘I’.
End your personal profile with a sentence summarising your career goals.
For example: ‘I hope to build on my prior experience and make a meaningful contribution
by working in an international NGO.’
‘Having worked mostly for start-ups and smaller firms, I would now like to challenge
myself by managing projects and teams in a larger company.’
‘My short-term goal is to work in an English-speaking environment, with a view to moving into a
training/teaching role in the medium term.’
And you’ve finished!
If you want to read the three full profiles, go to the full version of this lesson on our
There’s a link in the video description.
The exact order of sections on a CV can vary.
However, in many cases, you’ll put your work history at the top, after your personal
Let’s see how you can write about your employment history on your CV.
In this section of your CV, you should list the companies you’ve worked for, the dates
you worked there, your responsibilities and any significant achievements.
For example, you might write: ‘Customer service supervisor, Juice-It, September 2016
to January 2019’.
‘Main responsibilities: responding to customer queries and complaints, creating and implementing
surveys to gather customer feedback, organising training sessions for other staff members.’
Often, you won’t write in full sentences to talk about your responsibilities and achievements.
Instead, you’ll write bulleted lists.
There are two possible styles you can use, and you should choose one.
One way is to write sentence fragments starting with an -ing verb.
You saw this in the example just now.
The other common possibility is to write sentence fragments starting with a past simple verb.
So, for example, a full sentence about your work experience might be: ‘I designed training
programs for other staff members.'
You could make this a fragment with an -ing verb, as in ‘Designing training programs
for other staff members.'
Or, you could make a fragment with a past simple verb, as in ‘Designed training programs
for other staff members.’
Of course, you can write in full sentences if you want!
However, it’s more common to use one of these two styles on a CV.
Just remember: don’t mix styles.
If you’re writing in fragments starting with an -ing verb, then all of your bullet
points should be in the same style.
Also, when describing your responsibilities in a role, try to use active, specific vocabulary.
For example, instead of ‘Making promotional materials in print and digital formats’,
say ‘Creating promotional materials’ or ‘Designing promotional materials’.
Using a more specific verb is better where possible, so it’s better to use ‘create’
than a more general verb like ‘make’.
Instead of ‘Worked with customer data to suggest alternative strategies for sales team
members,’ say ‘Analysed customer data in order to devise more effective strategies
for sales team members’.
Next, let’s add one more vital section to your CV.
On most CVs, education either goes at the top, after the personal profile, or after
the work experience section.
Here, you list the institution, qualification, grades and dates.
For example: ‘University of Warwick, 2015 to 2018, BSc in chemical engineering, two
Do you know what ‘two-one’ means?
University grades for UK degrees are given in classes: first class, upper second class,
second class, and so on.
‘Two one’ means an upper second class degree, which is the second highest grade.
On a CV, you can write BSc *in* chemical engineering, or you might write it without the preposition.
This might be all you need, but you might also add modules you studied, projects you
worked on, or the title of your thesis or dissertation.
Here, the simplest way to add this information is to use a colon to introduce a list, like
this: ‘Modules studied: chemical reactor design, distillation and absorption, process
You could also use this to list exams you took at school; for example: ‘A-Levels:
geography, English literature, politics, economics.
Do you know what A-levels are?
They’re the exams you take at the end of secondary school in the
Usually, people take three or four subjects.
Depending on where you are in your career, you might not need a lot of details about
If you’ve been working in your field for many years and have lots of relevant achievements,
then you probably don’t need to go into details about your high school exam results.
At this point, you have the most important parts of your CV.
There’s one more section you might add.
At the end of your CV, you might list relevant skills, such as other languages which you
speak, certificates, or software you can use.
You might also list your hobbies and interests.
Should you add your hobbies and interests to your CV?
Some people say yes, others say no.
We don’t know—this lesson is about how to write a CV in English.
Here, you can keep this simple; introduce a list using a colon, like this: ‘Proficient
with: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, MS Office, QuickBooks.’
You can show different levels of skill by using different adjectives like ‘proficient’,
‘familiar’, or ‘competent’.
‘Proficient’ suggests a higher level of skill; ‘competent’ suggests a medium degree,
while ‘familiar’ suggests a more basic level of skill.
You can use these adjectives with the preposition ‘with’ plus a noun; for example: ‘proficient
with AutoCAD’, ‘competent with WordPress’, or ‘familiar with a range of common double-entry
You can also use some adjectives like this plus ‘at’ plus an -ing verb.
For example: ‘competent at building and styling web pages using HTML and CSS.’
‘Skilled at using a range of Abode Creative Suite applications for graphic or print design.’
With languages, you can use a similar format; introduce a list using a colon, like this:
‘Languages spoken: Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese.’
If you want to add additional information to something, add it in parentheses, like
As before, you’re not writing in full sentences here.
That means you can be flexible with the structure; for example, you don’t need to add ‘and’
between the last two items on your list.
However, you *should* still pay attention to grammar and structure, because it’s important
to be consistent.
Finally, you can add your hobbies and interests if you want.
For example: ‘Hobbies and interests: surfing, DIY, arts and crafts.’
At this point, your CV should be close to complete.
Don’t forget to proof read carefully before you send it in!
In most situations, recruiters won’t spend long the first time they look at your CV.
Even small things, like spelling mistakes, can mean your CV gets thrown out.
So, take the time to check everything.
Do you have any other tips for writing a good CV?
Please share your ideas in the comments!
Thanks for watching!
See you next time!