CV Basics - [9 Essential Tips to Write a Correct CV]
Are you hunting for your dream job but don't know how to start? It all starts with creating a Curriculum Vitae (CV) that catches the recruiter's eye and gets you invited to a job interview.
But what makes a CV attractive? Many factors are involved, from the design to the included information. In this article, we have given ourselves the task of gathering the CV Basics you need to consider to write a great Curriculum Vitae. Without further delay, let’s get it straight as this blog post will give you nine essential tips to write a correct CV. So keep reading!
Table of Contents:
What Is a CV?
A CV, or Curriculum Vitae (Latin for ‘course of life’), is a personal document you use for both academic and professional purposes. In a CV, you describe every relevant detail of your academic, professional, and sometimes even personal life to highlight your experience in a certain job, your abilities, qualifications, and much more.
If you’re a job seeker and going to be reviewed by an applicant tracking system or a hiring manager, a good CV can decide whether somebody hires you or not.
In some countries, a CV is equivalent to an American resume. The latter document is also used to apply for a job. So, here is when we have to ask ourselves the next question…
What Are the Differences Between a CV and a Resume?
The truth is that, nowadays, in the hiring process, there are no formal differences between resumes and curriculum vitae. The difference is only one concept. CV is to British what a resume is to Americans. Just like football is to Brits what soccer is to Americans. It’s just a different word for the same practice.
If you are going to apply for a job in Europe, then you should create a CV according to the tips we mention in this article. On the other hand, if you’re going to apply to an American company, then you have to build a resume.
And please, remember that a CV is not a cover letter. The latter is a fundamental part of your presentation when applying for a job, but it’s a separate section or document.
How to Write a CV?
A CV has numerous sections, each focused on one particular part of your life course. Besides, each section must be written differently, so you must do it correctly to stand out from the other job seekers.
And the best way of starting this process is to search on the Internet for the best CV format you can find. Or at least that fit with your style and career.
Below, we explain this deeper and discuss all the other sections you must complete to build a great CV.
Pick the Right CV Format for Your Purposes
When you’re in the middle of a job search and finding your dream job, you’ll likely compete against many other candidates for the same position. Beyond your abilities and professional qualifications, this is a long shot. For this reason, it’s very important to stand out over the other candidates from the first moment.
Due to the number of applicants, hiring managers and recruiters do not spend over 5 or 6 seconds scanning each CV. So, as you can notice, the first impression is very relevant.
The best way to make a good impression is to organize a well-structured CV that is very attractive to the eyes of the recruiters. A poorly formatted CV will go straight to the trash can in a matter of seconds.
To format a good CV, it has to be divided into different sections and properly remarked. Besides, it’s better for reading purposes that these sections come in a certain order within your CV. The proper order of sections is the following:
1. CV Header with Contact Information
2. Personal Profile: CV Objective or CV Summary
3. Work Experience
5. General skills, communication skills, organizational skills, and hard skills
6. Additional Sections
Note. Most job seekers who are fresh out of college have no experience. For these, it’s better to put the education section above the work experience.
A good job application document, or your CV, should look something like the following:
Of course, this is just an example since style and format can change slightly. Just keep in mind the next piece of advice.
Be Consistent with your CV Layout
Format consistently your CV for a new job, i.e., keep the same font for the entire document. You also have to ensure that the headers are uniform, just like any job title you’ve performed. Dates also should have the same format.
Don’t Oversaturate Your CV with Graphics
Recruiters want to read all CVs that arrive at their desks quickly. Do not use distractions that can divert attention from the information or your work history. In a CV, less is more! Remember that a Curriculum Vitae must have only the relevant information about you.
Use as many blank spaces as you can. Of course, if you’re an architect or designer, you can include some well-integrated images, but these must complement the general information and not distract from reading.
Make your CV Short and Relevant
If you believe you must include all your personal details in your resume format, let us tell you that you’re wrong! Just like above, less is more! In applicant tracking systems, recruiters are not interested in knowing if you cook – unless you’re applying for a chef position – or if you’re a great basketball player. Pay attention to the job descriptions and include only relevant information.
A proper resume format should look something like the above. Of course, this is just a sample. You can always change the column of key skills from the left side to the right, but it is always fundamental to keep your professional experience as the cornerstone of your CV.
This is another example of how a CV may look. In essence, this example has the same info as the previous one.
Search on the Internet for CV Examples or Resume Templates
You can always browse the Internet for good CV templates you can use to organize your information. This way, you can learn how to structure a good skills section, including soft skills and hard skills, or properly resume formatting.
If you’re skilled enough using software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, you can check several templates on the Internet and replicate them in your favorite image editing software. If not, you can download some templates from MS Word and insert the information in the proper sections.
On the Internet, several sites offer free Word templates to write a resume or CV. Thanks to this, you can make a great first impression and land the interview with an attractive and functional CV. You can modify it to fit any position and career.
The template above is one of the most practical and suits most professionals and careers. Besides, the sections are identified clearly. The only thing you must do is replace all the info – section titles, the short description at the top, education, etcetera.
This second template is a bit more crystalline and comprehensive than the latter. As you can notice, it’s blank and has a lot of white space. Some recruiters love simplicity. And remember, less is more. The best of this template is that you can grab and drop all the sections and locate them as you want.
This third option is for professional designers or landscapers who are applying for a new job. Despite having background shapes, it may be interesting for recruiters who love personality and customization. If you go for something like this, just keep the paragraphs short and to the point.
This is an option strongly focused on the candidate’s image. Anyway, it’s very simple too, and just like the second alternative, you can freely exchange the sections of the place. Besides, if the most important part of your CV is the education section, we heavily recommend you to enlarge this section and place it one sector higher on the CV.
This final option is a bit similar to the previous one. From a certain point of view, it’s a bit more elegant due to its neutral colors. A perk of this alternative is that everything is set on a single column, then the reading will be more direct. This is a great choice if you want to give a sophisticated impression.
The purpose of this section is not to show all the available templates on the Internet. It’s your mission to use such references we mention below to fill the template of your preference. The following sections are really important to build a great CV.
If you do not have MS Word or the Microsoft Office suite installed on your computer, here, at RoyalCDKeys, you can buy a reliable and legit copy of Microsoft Office 2021 Pro Plus Key Retail Global at €10,50. Of course, you can browse the web and find other versions of the same software, such as Microsoft Office Home and Microsoft Office 2019.
Should I Add a Photo to my CV?
This is a tricky question since some recruiters may ask for it or not. Besides, in some countries, photo usage is illegal, so recruiters shouldn’t ask for one. In the United States, this situation depends on the State you’re applying to.
Of course, in most cases, if you’re applying for a job online, you probably shouldn’t insert a photo. Although, as you can see in the templates above, the right resume format involves including a small and professional photo as a presentation.
We recommend you not to use a photo in your CV, but, still, it’s up to you. If you decide to do it, here you’re some photo tips:
- Smile and show your teeth.
- Shade your jawline.
- Make eye contact.
- Dress for success.
- Show your head and shoulders only.
- No selfies.
On the other hand, if you decide not to use a profile photo, we have a good trick for you. Insert your LinkedIn handle in the header of your CV. All recruiters that read your curriculum very likely will check your LinkedIn profile. Here is where recruiters will see your photo.
Inserting a good photo in your LinkedIn profile involves following the same pieces of advice we mention above. The right photo should look like the one above.
Add Your Content Information the Right Way
To let recruiters contact you as soon as possible when they make a decision, you must enter a proper contact information section. The following is the info you should include. You also have to keep in mind that this info should be visible and stand out.
- Full name.
- Professional title.
- Email address.
- Telephone number.
- LinkedIn profile.
- Home address.
But contact information is not only important for contact purposes. Any potential employer will use your contact information to research you online. That said, your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, must look professional and match your CV. If the prospective employer sees that your social media profile does not look like the information you share during the hiring process, you might be disqualified.
Start Your CV with a Personal Profile
Your CV should start with a personal introduction and a personal profile statement. Good resume writing practices state that this auto-description shouldn’t be larger than 100 words and should focus on what makes you the perfect candidate for the job. In this regard, there are two approaches to this goal:
- A CV objective. This shows your mastered skills and how they fit into the job and is the right choice for those who haven’t relevant experience for the job or are writing a student CV.
- A CV summary. This is the option for seasoned professionals who want to highlight their achievements and progress. This is your approach if you have a lot of experience that fits the job.
List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements
In short, your work experience section is the most important section inside your CV. You should put special attention to the details you add to this part. Remember that your work experience should include just the relevant information for the job position, and the best experience in the required field.
The most common mistake is to think that this is just about listing the previous positions, responsibilities, and dates worked.
If you do this, your CV will look simple in the eyes of the project manager or recruiter. And you want to be anything but basic.
The potential employers already know what you did in your previous jobs. When they read this section, they want to know how well you fulfill your job and what you can offer to the new professional associations.
To do it correctly, you should list your most recent position at the top, continuing in reverse chronological order, including the name, location, website, and dates of your employment. You have to do this for each company you have worked for.
Below you’ll find some tips when you add your work experience to your CV:
1. Focus on your career tips, relevant coursework, and relevant achievements, not just your duties.
2. Use action verbs, such as “created,” not “responsible for creating, analysis and implementation.”
3. Tailor your CV to the job posting — read the job description carefully and check what tasks will be expected of you. If you’ve done them before — put them on your CV.
Below, you find a job description for the position of architect.
- Seeking opportunities for projects.
- Creating work groups for specific tasks.
- Leading projects from start to finish.
- Designing masonry, internal structures, textures, and functions of any architectural space.
- Drawing freehand and in AutoCAD.
Now, let’s check an example of a CV work experience entry.
Bjarke Ingels Group, 24-April-present
- Researched opportunities for design and architectural projects.
- Planned projects.
- Built specific teams for specific projects.
- Managed staff members.
- Designed plan and architectural section.
- Presented projects to clients and contests.
Key achievements: Led a project team in designing and implementing architectural designs for a private client by creating strategies and specific solutions for implementing and building a 5,000 yd² living place project.
As you can see, this last work experience is perfectly tailored to the job ad. Here, the candidate is showing that they’ll be capable of managing all the responsibilities that the job requires since they have done them before.
The central focus is on the candidate’s achievements.
A perfect CV template should include a “key achievement” section where you show why your abilities fit perfectly with the job position. A good move is to include hard numbers – if they’re relevant to your work – instead of general descriptions such as “a huge number of something” or “significantly increased something.”
Your work experience section should look something like the image above. Of course, this is just an example of how your career path can be a part of a great resume. Just remember that impressions matter, so this is the section where you can impress recruiters.
Last but not least, listing your achievements on a CV the right way will make you stand out from the other candidates.
Build Your CV Education Section Properly
This section, contrary to the previous version, is easier to achieve. In a few words, listing your academic career and achievements should be as easy as taking candy from a baby.
If you have a post-secondary qualification, just include this information in your CV. It’s not necessary to mention your high school or school name unless it was the last degree you got. Of course, if you have an education master related to the job, you have to mention it.
The right way to mention your education on a functional CV is the following:
- Graduation year (if you’re still studying, enter your expected graduation date).
- Your degree.
- Institution name.
- Honors (if applicable).
Next, you find one example of this.
University of California, Berkeley
This looks easy, isn’t it?
But what happens if you do not have any work experience relevant to the job? What happens if you’ve just graduated or you’re switching careers, contrary to most candidates out there?
If this is your case, you should include two must-haves:
- Place your education section above the work experience section.
- Elaborate a more interesting and detailed academic experience sections by including the following:
- Your dissertation title.
- Fields of study.
- Your best achievements.
- Academic interests.
- Extracurricular activities.
This way, your CV stands out from most curriculum vitae, at least in terms of relevant academic experience.
Put Relevant Skills that Fit the Job Opening
You likely have dozens of specific skills you think may be important for the job position. But is including many skills good for the application?
The answer is no.
When you list skills in your CV, you should include only the preponderant skills for the position. In other words, a skills-based CV must be functional for the job you are applying for.
How to do it correctly?
The right answer is to list only professional skills. Do not include skills like “a great football player” if you’re applying for the architect position. Once you list all your skills, check the job titles – if you’re applying to different jobs – and the skills desired by the prospective employer.
How many of these skills match the skills the employer is looking for? Put just the skills you believe fit it.
Include a good mix of both hard and soft skills. Besides, indicate your level of proficiency by using words such as “advanced” or “basic.”
Some of the top skills for a CV are the following:
- Critical thinking.
- Teamwork skills.
- Conflict resolution.
- Decision making.
- Leadership skills.
- Administrative skills.
Include Additional CV Sections to Impress the Recruiter
These sections are not mandatory but, still, they can be very useful to impress recruiters of the companies referred. They’ll provide hiring managers with a more vast perspective about your competencies. Some samples of CV additional sections are the following:
- Professional certifications.
- Published works.
- Professional affiliations.
- Conferences attended.
- Trained abilities.
In the case you need to write a student CV, you can add some of these additional sections to complement your academic and work experience. This is the perfect opportunity to relate what you do in your free time, such as sports or personal interests, projects, helping groups, etcetera.
- Volunteer experience.
- Hobbies and interests.
- Freelance work.
- Academic achievements.
- Personal blog.
Complete Your CV with a Cover Letter
The truth is that cover letters can make the difference when it comes to getting a job or not. Why?
45 of 100 recruiters won’t review your CV if it hasn’t a cover letter attached. On the other hand, many recruiters believe that a cover letter is redundant but that they still are part of a standout resume.
But, do you know how to write a great cover letter?
A good cover letter should include the following:
- Header (who are you and who are you heading).
- Salutation (address the reader).
- Opening paragraph (get the recruiters hooked and make them read on).
- Second paragraph (why you’re the perfect fit for the company).
- Third paragraph (why the company is the perfect fit for you).
- Closing paragraph (close with a promise).
- Formal closing (stay formal in the closing salutation).
- Postscripts (seal the deal).
Some of the main reasons you should write a cover letter are the next:
- Makes you stand out from job seekers.
- Expresses why you’re interested in the position.
- Shows your knowledge about the company.
- Explains how your skills can be very useful to the company.
- Shows that you understand the needs of the organization.
A great cover letter that complements your CV will position you over all the other candidates who haven’t the same document. Next, you can check what it would look like:
Key Areas Recruiters Pay the Most Attention to on Your Resume
Most recruiters out there pay special attention to the relevant work experience since it may determine if you’re the right candidate for the position. This section reflects if you have the skill that the job requires. For this reason, you should start building this section when you write your CV.
In this sense, this section is the one that goes first in order in your CV. You should include any single detail that is preponderant in your work history. This section reveals if you’ll have the ability to fulfill your tasks. But remember, just list the jobs that fit the new position.
However, the education section is also relevant since it reflects your knowledge of the subject. Besides, if you have a huge educational background, it may impress some recruiters.
Still. don’t overlook your additional sections since you can add each relevant activity you do on daily basis. Think of this section as the salt and pepper that add the final flavor to your CV.
As we know, the world of work changes all the time, as well as hiring expectations. It’s fundamental to stay ahead of the curve and stand out over other candidates out there. To do this, you’ll need an extra mile with your CV.
- Head start your CV with a personal profile. Write a short paragraph telling why you’re the candidate the employer needs. Refer directly to the company name. This way, you can demonstrate you know the field of the organization and explain why you’re the right person for the position.
- Focus on your achievements and accomplishments. Recruiters do not want to read a dull list of bullet points describing past duties. They want to know why you’re a candidate who stands out over the other candidates.
- Add a section with your top wins. Certifications, awards, publications, or even extracurricular training or attending conferences.
- Use a proper font. When you write your CV, it’s recommendable you use a formal type of font, such as ‘Times New Roman,’ ‘Arial’ or “Georgia.” Please avoid ‘Gotic’ or ‘Comic Sans’ or any type of font that looks complicated and adds nothing to the content.
- Attach a cover letter to your job application. Writing a CV should involve adding a cover letter that can increase your chances of getting hired.
How to Structure a Good CV - Step by Step Guide - Resume
Below, you’ll find a list of tips about how to write a good curriculum vitae. These hints are included in all the previous sections of this article, but it’s worth mentioning them again so that you do not forget them.
1. Create a stand-out professional CV design. To do this, use Adobe Illustrator or any other image editor. Remember that your CV must stand out from hundreds of applications.
2. Select one of the three CV formats available. Reverse-chronological, skills-based, or a combination of both.
3. Divide your CV into the sections we’ve mentioned in this article. This is mandatory to separate the information you put in your document.
4. Design a header with your personal information and expertise. A good header is the appropriate presentation of any good CV.
5. Start with an objective statement or a career summary. Be clear and concise about any specifically stated experience in the work experience section.
6. Write an experience section using bullet points that include your achievements. Do not forget to start with your most recent job.
7. Indicate your highest degree or your academic accomplishments if you don’t have much relevant experience.
8. List skills that fit the job description. Make sure your skills match the keywords for the industry you’re applying to.
9. Consider additional sections. Including additional info, such as certificates, hobbies, and/or volunteering experience will expand your universe of potential employers.
10. Attach a cover letter to your application. We talked about this enough in the previous section.
If you’re applying for your first job, we are sure this article will be very helpful for your purpose of entering the world of work. Just write one paragraph at a time, do not rush, double-check this information, and soon you’ll have the curriculum vitae you need.
What’s more, some institutions may request a CV if you apply for a teaching or research position. This guide will also be helpful for those interested in these academic positions. Of course, if this is your case, you should allocate a high volume of your CV to the education section. Remember, your CV is your “marketing tool” or your “sales brochure.”
This guide may also inspire top career experts who want to change jobs or apply for a completely different position in other countries. The advice we mention here also works on an international level.
We hope we have helped you to write a good CV for your job research. Follow the advice we describe here, and you’ll have a better chance of getting the job of your dreams!
Finally, just to say that here, in RoyalCDKeys, you can find the best offer in terms of software. Browse our website and discover all the products we have for you! And if you’re interested in reading more articles related to these topics or others, visit our blog section.
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