Together with a cover letter, your CV is the entry pass to land your dream job. Here is Graduateland's guide to the perfect CV.
Looking for a job is a very tiresome process. Sending out applications takes a lot of time, and quite often the effort is not repaid as all of your documentation might just land at the bottom of a paper pile on an HR manager’s desk. Therefore, it is important to know what an employer is looking for, and your CV is the perfect place to start. Follow this structure, and your job search will become much easier. Keep in mind that in different countries the job culture emphasizes different aspects of one’s experience, so your CV still has to be tailored to the particular market you are applying in.
1. The title
The header of your CV should not state “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae”. Use your own name as the title, written in big letters. You want to make sure that your name sticks in the head of the recruiter. It is also best to add a picture at the top, although this will again depend on the country you are in and the position you are applying for. However, make sure that the picture you choose is a headshot that looks professional. When someone sees your picture they must be able to imagine themselves working with you as a colleague.
2. Personal Information
Under the header, you will put your personal information. It is mandatory to have your address, phone number and email address listed (and make sure your email address is professional, no one wants to hire StarLord93@gmail.com). Remember that you are not required to list your marital status on your CV, but you can do so if you wish. You can also add your LinkedIn URL and Twitter channel, but only if you are sure that the content you post is professional and relevant to the position you are applying for.
3. Key qualifications
This is the part where you will be able to stand out, as a captivating summary will be your entry pass to an interview. This section should, therefore, be tailored to the job you are applying for. You should describe your most significant qualifications, and what makes you the ideal candidate for this specific job. A good idea is to use bullet points, and if you have facts to back up your claims don’t be afraid to use them. For example, instead of saying that you are “outgoing and good with sales”, write this:
- Three years experience with sales
- One year experience as sales team leader
- Exceeded sales objectives by 15%
Start with your most recent studies, and then work your way backwards. Write down the name of the school, the years you were enrolled and the degree title you graduated with.
5. Relevant job experience
The key word here is relevant. If you worked as a bartender in high school and are applying for a Finance Internship in London, then it will just be using up precious space on your CV. You should only add job experience where the tasks you performed and the skills required are related to the position you are applying for. Write the beginning and end date of your job, your job title, and a short description. The best thing to do is adding tangible accomplishments that can show off your competencies. If you don’t have a long working history, you can also add any volunteer work you have done. You can choose whether to put this section above your education if you feel it is more relevant.
Here you can write volunteer work you have done, as well as your role in various organizations. If you are a member of a student association, be sure to write it down as well.
List your language competencies based on written and oral abilities. Using a grid system is the most practical way to do this. If you have any language certificates such as IELTS, DELF or Goethe, add them together with your grade.
8. IT competencies
Here you should write down if you have an ECDL certificate or equivalent, as well as any softwares you master without the need of training. Avoid writing that you are generally good with computers, everyone is nowadays.
9. Additional information
Depending on the job you are applying for, and if you have space left, you can add some additional information about yourself, like for example if you have a driver’s licence and what your hobbies are. This final section is not vital, but can provide the hiring manager with some talking points for the interview, especially if you have something in common.
When you know what to include in your CV, remember to also make sure it is not edited sloppily. If you have the opportunity, have someone read through your CV looking for typos or grammatical errors: if any of those are part of the application you are very unlikely to ever be called back. A nice and professional looking CV will improve your chances of landing an interview, and will show prospective employers that you are a structured person.
Now that you have all you need to write the perfect CV, there is nothing left but to wish you good luck with your job search!