A Magna Vitae (MV) is a simple snapshot of the person’s lived experience, their skills and attributes and where relevant, the reasonable adjustments they might need. There is also a photo and details of the person’s ability to travel. Because the MV is designed to give a platform for honesty, references are often from professional organisations the person has engaged with.

Application forms and CV’s are designed to show relevant experience and gaps in employment creating a filter which rejects people without the predetermined requirements. However, algorithms are only as good as the information they are given. People trying to present themselves in the best possible light often give the truth considerable scope, mental and physical health issues are rarely mentioned and time spent in prison is avoided at all costs. So are you always getting a selection of the best candidates?

Empowering and personal: “I love my MV because I want an employer to value me as a person, to know and understand my strengths and my current limitations. I want to know that they will endeavour to safeguard my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing and that in return I will carry out my role to the best of my ability. “The current recruitment processes reflect none of these values or qualities and leave vulnerable adults such as myself, filled with an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety, that we are being set up to fail. Everyone should have access to an MV”. JL

If you are a Disability Confident employer the MV is a simple way to recruit.

“If they decided to give me an interview they would be aware of my background and would be interested in my life skills and who I am. I don’t think without the MV I would ever consider trying to go back into employment again”. Vikki

The Magna Vitae has been designed and developed over the past 3 years to meet the needs of both the employer and the potential employee.

Being honest about poor life choices or adverse childhood experiences enables people to explain how they have overcome difficult situations, the lessons learned and the skills gained. MV’s have been used to describe a change in career due to gender reassignment and gaps in employment due to illness, abusive relationships, substance misuse or imprisonment. More than a CV an MV can also be used as a personal passport when meeting a new professional or potential landlord. Knowing about a person before an interview reduces stress and opens the way for an honest conversation.

EXAMPLE: The hidden cost of substance misuse for employers in the UK is £100 Billion


Employing someone who has overcome an addiction, they will recognise the signs in others. This could lead to a support group which in turn could lead to better staff retention.

Further reading:

This is me: How telling your life story honestly is paying dividends with people with complex needs

 A short digital clip describing the MV 


Joseph’s story



This initiative provides an alternative to the traditional CV for anyone with gaps in their employment history, for whatever reason, who wishes to explain those gaps by sharing their life experience.

The Magna Vitae is a strength based personal passport and an alternative to the traditional CV. It is currently being used by a number of organisations across the UK. Employers simply need to add ‘Magna Vitae also accepted’, to their recruitment site, demonstrating that they are open to supporting people with alternative life experience and a willingness to learn.

The Magna Vitae was designed by Lizzie Bond who works for Learn Devon, the adult education service for Devon County Council. The information is freely available on the Devon County Council website. It is delivered in Exeter with Learn Devon are across the UK with other organisations.

Get in touch 

Please get in touch to discuss how MV can support your clients into sustained employment

Lizzie Bond, Learn Devon