How to Write a CV

how to write a CV

A CV—or a curriculum vitae—is a critical document in any job search. It includes information about your education, skills, achievements, research, awards, affiliations, and much more—in other words, this document contains everything a potential employer wants to know about you.

If it sounds like a lot to jot down, don’t fear: We’re here to teach you how to write a CV that will impress potential employers and help you stand out from the other candidates. From what to include to a perfect example, here’s everything you need to know in order to write a great CV.

What to Include in a CV

A CV is different than a resume; it’s longer, for starters, and includes a more detailed synopsis of your experience and education.  But a CV can be easily broken down into the following sections:

Personal details and contact information:

Start your CV with your personal details and contact information—your name, address, phone number, and email address. No other details necessary!

Personal statement:

Next comes a personal statement, a paragraph or two that summarises your past experience and accomplishments. A personal statement gives you a chance to sell yourself. 

Skills:

Not only is a skill section a chance for you to list out all your valuable skills, but it’s the area that recruiters and hiring managers most often scan for keywords. In other words, it’s important!

Work experience:

In this section, you’ll present your career history in reverse order, with the most recent experience at the top, and the most emphasis placed on those recent positions.

Education:

Even if you graduated decades ago, your education—including your university, the dates you attended school, and the degrees with which you graduated—belongs on your CV.

Additional experience:

If you have other skills and experiences—think: volunteerism—that don’t fit in the aforementioned sections, you may want to add a final section to capture these items.

How to Make Your CV Stand Out

A great CV is more than correct formatting. Here’s how to make your CV really stand out.

Tailor your CV for each job

If you’re applying for multiple jobs, you’ll want to tailor your CV for each job. But rather than make broad changes, small tweaks may be all you need to do. Be sure to incorporate the same keywords that are in the job description and your skills, titles and certifications that match the position’s needs. 

Be specific

Showcase your experience by including specific accomplishments, awards and key projects. Include industry-specific language to demonstrate you have industry knowledge. Recruiters also want to know your skill-set beyond what’s mentioned in the job description, so work these into your work experience summary or in your skills section, as applicable.

Include soft skills, too

Recruiters look for candidates who will fit into the corporate culture and work well with existing employees. Examples of your teamwork, problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills provide a glimpse into your personality. You want to show that you’re a well-rounded employee who is both easy to work with and can help achieve company goals.

How to Make Your CV Stand Out

Sample CVs

So what does all this look like? Here’s an example of an ideal CV. (Feel free to use this format!)

Margaret Smith
Limmeridge House, 82 Middlemarch Rd, Fulchester, SE20 7EU
+44 1632 960959
margaret_smith807@gmail.com

ROI-driven marketing professional who is equal parts creative and analytical. Experienced in Marketo, Google Analytics and driving 27% year-over-year traffic growth.

Key Skills

Soft Skills Hard Skills
Brand Positioning Google Analytics
Project Management    Marketo 
Team Leadership Salesforce
Communication Excel

Work Experience

Umbrella Corp.

Dec. 2016 - Present

Marketing Intern

  • Collaborated with a team of 4 people to brainstorm 3 major creative campaigns which ultimately drove 100,000+ website visits and a 27% year-over-year increase in traffic
  • Drafted copy for 3 ebooks and associated email marketing campaigns, resulting in 10,000 downloads and 3,000 new leads generated
  • Analysed data from Google Analytics and Marketo to optimise marketing efforts moving forward, leading to a 24% increase in downloads from campaign 2 to campaign 3

Coffee 2 Go

Sep. 2012 - Dec. 2016

Barista, Shift Manager

  • Served 50-100 customers per day, driving roughly £600 per day in sales
  • Consistently upsold offerings and daily specials, resulting in an average yearly revenue increase of 12%
  • Trained, managed and coordinated schedules for a team of 6 in order to ensure top-quality customer service

Education

University of Muncaster

Sep. 2012 - Dec. 2016

Business Management BA, upper-second class honours

Relevant modules: Introduction to Marketing, Marketing Theory & Practice, Marketing Strategy, Advertising Fundamentals, Business Analytics

Additional Experience

  • Recipient of the University of Muncaster Marketing Society’s Rising Star Award, April 2016
  • Volunteer, Muncaster Animal Rescue
  • Avid cyclist and jazz piano player

CV Mistakes You Must Avoid

It’s all too easy to make mistakes on a CV. Here are five common mistakes job seekers make, and how you can correct them. 

  1. You’re including items that don’t belong. While a CV is a detailed document, it’s possible to get too detailed. Age, nationality, criminal record, marital status, gender, and hobbies that don’t relate to the job shouldn’t be included. If you’re not sure whether something belongs, put yourself in the employer’s shoes: Would you care to know it? Edit your document accordingly.
  2. You didn’t have anyone else read it before you submitted it. The best way to catch errors on your CV—such as spelling and grammar mistakes or missing information, for example—is to have someone with fresh eyes read it over. Plus, even if they don’t catch any actual errors, it’s great to have someone offer a different opinion on how to structure a particular bullet point or reword a sentence in order to take your CV to the next level.
  3. You used pronouns. Pronouns—including “I” and “my”—generally don’t have a place on a CV. While some recruiters think they’re OK to use, others don’t, so it’s best to avoid them. 
  4. You focused on functions, not results. If your CV reads like the original job description you saw when you applied, it’s time to spice it up. Instead of talking about the day-to-day, describe the big picture impact you had. If you can, include numbers to quantify results where possible. 
  5. You included an objective. If your uni's career counsellor ever told you to put an objective such as, “find an entry-level position in marketing” at the top of your CV, don’t! Don’t just say you want a job—show recruiters why they should hire you with an awesome personal statement.

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