How to write a great professional Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) will be the first impression a recruiter or employer has of you. In a competitive job market, you need a very good CV to succeed in securing your interview.
It describes what sets you aside from other applicants and what makes your application special and relevant to that specific job vacancy.
This is the first step to secure your job so spend some good time getting it right, remember your potential new employer spends considerable amount of time and resources in the recruitment process and hiring and orientation of new employees is expensive and time consuming.
If you put an effort to write a great CV, there is a strong chance that the reader will notice you and invite you for an interview.
You should tailor write your CV for each job you are applying for. This will help you to clearly emphasize detail of your skills/attributes relevant to each unique job advert. Don’t send the same CV to multiple job vacancies.
The more closely your skills match the requirement of that specific position, the more likely you can have a chance to be invited for an interview.
Your CV should look professional and should be printed on a good quality white A4 paper.
Don’t use different font colour in your CV, stick to black and white.
Use also easy to read font styles like “Arial” or “Times New Roman” with font size not smaller than “11”.
Write in small letters, use caps or bold only for major heading.
Don’t include a photograph or some artistic image in your CV unless requested from the job advert.
Avoid to use abbreviations, acronym, slang or SMS language, write all the words in full even if you think that a particular abbreviation or acronym is known by everybody.
Label headings and sub-headings of your CV clearly. Each section must be easy to find by somebody reading your CV without having to go through the whole CV.
Your completed CV should be check for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes very carefully preferably by another person.
Bear in mind of the high volume of number of CVs received by recruiters, so try to make yours as short as possible to have a chance to be fully read.
Include only relevant information, don’t use long paragraphs if you have something to enumerate, try to use bullet points rather than full sentences to minimize the usage of long words.
Try to limit the length of your CV to about 2 to 3 pages. If your CV is too long it will require more time to read remember the point here is only to include relevant information.
Things which could be discussed normally at the interview should be omitted here such as the reasons why you left your previous job or your current/required salary etc.
- Read also on student companion: How to write a great cover letter for your CV
- Read also on student companion: Free Professional CV Templates
- Read also on student companion: Top 20 Job Interview Questions and Best Answers
There is no general layout or rule to follow when you are writing your CV, but there are some key information that most recruiters are looking for when reading your CV.
Here are some details that you can include in your CV and a structure to follow:
1. Personal Information
A brief and relevant personal information:
- CV Title: This can most generally be your name and surname
- Surname and full names
- Contact details (Telephone, cellphone and email address)
- Physical address
You can optionally include details like: Nationality, language skills, professional memberships if relevant, driving license if you got one, date of birth etc.
But it is not necessary to include:
- Health status
- Political affiliation
- Children’s or parent’s names
- Marital status (unless you think it can affect your job)
- A photo
2. Profile/ Career Details
Briefly in few words specify what you are looking for in your next position:
Job position, position type (contract or permanent), career Objectives and a short list of your core strengths and skills. This will show the recruiter your ambitions in the company and that you have the required skills for that position.
List all relevant education and qualifications in reverse chronological order starting with your tertiary qualification as they are more relevant for the potential employer.
You can list high school qualification as well especially if you have just recently entered the job market.
Include the names of the institutions, dates attended, the name of the qualification obtained or course attended with a short description of main subjects passed.
4. Skills and abilities
Include skills like: computer literacy, programming, engineering drawings.
Communication skills, foreign language skills and/or any other recent short course/development attended that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
5. Work experience
List your employment record in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent position. In each employment position, list the employment period, the name of the company, the position you held and work description.
Describe achievements, responsibilities or contribution you made on each position rather than just a list of duties.
If you are a student or recent graduate with no job experience, remember an employer is not expecting a lot of relevant experience from you try to consider:
- Projects or research you were involved in and you successfully finished
- Campus leadership
- Software, technical or leadership skills
- Internship, part-time jobs, volunteer work, your own jobs etc.
The important thing here is to highlight relevant responsibilities or skills you have developed.
It is not always a pre-requisite to include references, you can simply write “Available on request” especially if you are still new into the job market like a recent graduate, student or a junior employee. But to affirm what you said you have accomplished, it is advisable to include a list of relevant references.
If you are a student or a recent graduate without any work reference, you can simply list your mentor or your lecturer you had worked closely with as a reference.
Work references should ideally be your supervisor or your line manager not work colleagues.
In your references, list the name of the person, his/her contact details and his/her position in that company and remember to consult your references first for their approval before using them.