Writing a CV is not a walk in the park. Even the most talented professionals fail to present themselves in the best possible way just because they can’t get their CV right. A well-written CV makes it easier for the recruiters to identify your skills and see if you’ve got what they need. Most CVs follow a similar structure. It’s just the information that is different – which makes all of them unique in their own way.
So how do you get it right? What should you mention – and not mention – in your CV? We’ve put together a few pointers to help you out in making a great, solid CV for yourself.
What exactly is a CV?
A CV or a Curriculum Vitae is a document that you use to sell yourself to a prospective employer. One thing that always gets mixed up is that a CV is not the same as a resume. Both are different in their structure, layout and purpose. A CV is a more detailed document of your experience, skills and other relevant details, while a resume is a brief summary of everything you might include in a CV.
When a prospective employer is looking at your CV, they should be able to identify your skills, professional history, your abilities and your achievements. In a nutshell: your CV should be able to convince the rectuiter that you’re the best among the rest.
What sections should you include in a CV?
Contact details: This should include your name, professional title and contact details. Use your name as the heading of your CV. Using “Curriculum Vitae” as the title of a CV is a waste of space. Your contact details should include phone number, email and links to your LinkedIn, GitHub or any other professional pages. You can also mention your city and country for your location. No need to include your complete address.
Personal profile: A short and sweet statement about yourself, shedding light on the number of years of experience you have, your career goals and specific skills relevant to the job that you are applying for. This section should be tailor-made for each job that you apply for.
Skills / Core competencies: A good CV always has this section clearly charted up before work history and education. List all the relevant skills that you possess and have been using in your past jobs – with focus on the skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. This helps in attracting the attention of the recruiter to the kind of skills they are looking for.
If you’re an IT professional, list the languages, operating systems etc. you’ve got experience in, and rate your knowledge in them on a scale of 1-10. This helps in a understanding your expertise in a particular area.
Experience & employment history: This section provides a chronological outline of your previous work experience starting from your latest employment. If you’re a student and don’t have loads of work experience, this section can include your internships and project work as well.
The best way to present your work experience per job is by stating your title, employer, working period and your responsibilities with bullet points. A very compact bit explaining your job in a nutshell can also be included before the bullet points.
Education: This includes your educational qualifications listed in chronological order. If you are in the early phase of your career, this section can also include projects you’ve worked on and relevant modules and/or assignments that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. All the certifications and courses that you’ve done should also be included in this section – headlined under “Certifications”.
Additional sections: Hobbies & interests can be included in the CV – that is, if you don’t have much to talk about in the main sections. Make sure that the hobbies somehow add value to the CV. Include references only if they’re required by the by the employer. Otherwise “references available on request” is sufficient.
What’s not needed in a CV?
Marital Status: Your ability to work or your skills do not change with your marital status. It’s in fact illegal in Finland for employers to ask about these details and/or discriminate a candidate based on their marital status, age or religion.
A picture: A picture is really not necessary when applying for a job. Unless it’s a modelling job, of course.
Age: Age used to be a common element in the CVs back in the day. It’s not needed anymore. This also goes for your date of birth.
Parents’ names: Some individuals even include this in their CVs. This is definitely a NO.