A CV is often considered the most important part of sending in an application when applying for a job. A CV usually consists of two pages and forms the part of an application that describes what you have done before. While the letter focuses on what you want to do in the future and why you are suitable for the job, your CV tells you what you have learned, contributed in the past and what experiences you have. It is more than just a list of jobs. When you have followed all the steps, you will have a CV that is clear, relevant and increases your chances of getting an interview, far better than the average.
The first thing to include in your CV is your name. Then put your professional job title with your name. These details act as the title of your CV. Therefore, the phrase “curriculum vitae” should not get a mention. You should detail your phone number and email address and home address.
The next section of your CV is your profile. The introduction is the only part of your resume that can have a future focus. The CV should focus on your background and your merits, but a strong introduction helps to provide a context for your previous experiences and shows what you intend to do in the future. When you read your CV, you should immediately feel that the job you are looking for now is a natural next step for you. The introduction helps to link your merits to the future.
The introduction is a way of adding personality to an otherwise rather strict and formal document. It helps to give a picture of the person behind the merits. And that’s important! It is very rare for a recruitment to be decided solely on the formal merits; Personality plays a very big role in the recruitment process. Finding out who the person behind a job application is can help create interest and curiosity in the reader. So dare to try to add something about what you believe in, where you are going in life, a challenge you see, or even some odd interest. Keep it very short and make it relevant by linking it to your credentials.
The introduction helps the reader to interpret your CV. With an introduction, you can add context to your experiences and your education. You can help the reader understand your merits better and avoid erroneous conclusions. For example, if you have had many different jobs, the introduction can help to give a clearer red line to your application: “project manager with a focus on retail”. If you have made an unexpected change in your career, you can highlight it in the introduction to address a recruiter’s objections even before they arise: “after 5 years as a CRM project manager, I have moved more and more other roles in my company”.
The introduction will help you get it right. With a good start, you become more interesting for the right job and get a “filter” against the jobs that you still do not want. For example, if you have a background as an accounting consultant since 8 years ago and also a focus on IT companies, you can be a very interesting candidate for a new similar job. If what you want now is to go in a different direction, then the introduction can help you get there and at the same time help you avoid job offers you no longer want. That way you get a really strong and good CV.
If you have a selection of skills and qualifications that make you a great fit for the role, you should introduce a core competencies section to make them stand out. Typically, core competencies sections sit underneath your personal profile. Bullet point between six and 10 of your best attributes which immediately signal to the hiring manager that you are a match for the vacancy. These skills can be hard or soft, they could be certifications or awards, they could be a list of tools or software – whatever best shows you are qualified for the role.
Another key component to include in your CV is your employment history. This section details your positions of employment in reverse-chronological order ‒ so your most recent role is at the beginning.
For each job, include your dates of employment, your job title, the company, a line about the role, and bullet points detailing your duties, skills, and achievements. The work experience you had in these roles are key components of your CV since they let the hiring manager get an understanding of your skills and experiences based on your work history.
In theory, your most recent role should take up the most room because it’s the peak of your career so far and therefore showcases your best abilities. The older the job, the less detail it requires. If you have a role that’s older than 10 years, you may decide to remove it from your CV completely.
Like your work experience section, your education must be listed in reverse-chronological order. As a minimum, you need to include the name of your degree or qualification, the institution of study or awarding body, the grade you obtained, and the dates you studied or achieved the qualification.
If you’re just starting your career, and your education is still a huge selling point on your CV, you can add bullet points explaining relevant modules, assignments, placements and skills under each institution.
You may also consider adding awards and certifications to your CV. The awards could be academic, industry, work or volunteering-related.
When writing accolades on your CV, include the official award title, the purpose of the award and what it recognised, the scope of it, and the date of recognition. For example: “Most Valuable Player within Microsoft Shanghai 2019”.
Certifications are written slightly differently, limited to the official title of the certificate, the awarding body and the date it was obtained. For example, “Salesforce implementation Certification Course 2015”.
Volunteer work can be extremely valuable on your CV, especially if it’s related to the role you are applying for. Adding this type of experience is also a great way to fill an employment gap, supplement work history if you are changing careers or support your CV if you have recently left education.
When adding volunteer work on your CV, it’s best to include it as a standalone role in your work experience section, the same as any other work experience. Add your job title, the organisation’s name and the dates you held the position, followed by a brief summary of your role there and bullet points detailing your main duties and achievements.