Creating a CV can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned of job-seekers. Knowing how to design it, what information to include, and what to avoid, can deter many candidates from applying to a new role. However, writing a CV doesn’t have to be stressful if it’s done in the correct way. In fact, if you include all the points that will make recruiters enthusiastic about your profile, preparing this document might even be enjoyable. Read on to learn about all the necessary factors to take into account when writing a winning CV that will land you the job of your dreams.
In most applications, your CV will be your first impression to recruiters. This means that you have to start off with a bang. At the beginning of your document, include a short paragraph that summarizes your skills, experience, and achievements to make the hiring manager want to keep reading.
You can see this section almost like an introduction to the rest of your CV, so make sure it’s written in an engaging way, and that it stands out from other candidates. Don’t make this paragraph more than 3-5 sentences long, and include numbers to back up your achievements.
Your CV is more than just a presentation of yourself and your qualifications. It’s a sales document. Only that in this case, the product being sold is yourself. Just like with any marketing or sales pitch, the way you present it is just as important as what you are selling. For this reason, it’s essential that your CV catches the eye of recruiters by being engaging, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. To make sure your CV stands out from the crowd, you should ensure that your CV meets the following criteria:
Uses bold section headings that stand out
Doesn’t have text-heavy or dense blocks of writing
Includes a significant amount of white space between sections
Uses a consistent layout, margins and headings
Is written with legible and easy-to-read fonts
Doesn’t include photos unless it’s explicitly asked for by the job description
Doesn’t have unnecessary graphics
Only uses a maximum of two colours (including black)
Utilizes correct formatting, such as reverse-chronological
Creating a CV that includes all of the above points can be a difficult task, especially if you have no experience or background in design. This is why it can be helpful to use an online CV builder when writing the perfect CV. With one of these tools, you can take advantage of professionally designed templates that have all the necessary design elements to perform well.
Picture this. You’re a recruiter staring at a pile of CV’s on your desk. It’s nearing the end of the week, and you’ve already had to read hundreds upon hundreds of these documents. Would you want the next CV you have to read to be extremely long, text-heavy and dense? The answer is: probably not. Studies have shown that recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds reading each CV they are given. This means that you have only a short time to grab the recruiter’s attention and make them see how you’re a fit for the job.
If you overwhelm the hiring manager with excessive information and huge blocks of text, that will likely get your CV discarded quickly. So it’s crucial that you make your document short and concise, with a length of a maximum of one or two pages. Use bullet points when describing your past experiences, and only add information that clearly shows your expertise and potential for the role.
It goes without saying that you should add relevant work experience to your CV. However, many applicants do not enter this information in the correct way. When writing about your work history, you should mention the accomplishments you achieved in each role, rather than just the duties you performed. It’s also very important to back up each experience with facts or figures that help demonstrate the impact you had.
We also recommend that you use action verbs when describing your achievements. These are impactful verbs that clearly communicate your skills and experience. They don’t only make your CV easier to read, but they help you stand out to recruiters.
Below are some examples of action verbs that might be useful for your CV:
In addition to action verbs, it’s always recommendable to identify keywords that are included in the job description of the position you’re applying for. These are typically job-specific abilities and skills that recruiters watch out for. With more and more companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS), adding job-specific keywords to your CV will ensure that your document passes any automatic screening processes they might have.
However, don’t just add any word that pops up in your mind. While adding relevant keywords and action verbs to your CV will strengthen your application, certain words and phrases can put you at a disadvantage. In general, avoid buzzwords, cliches, or industry jargon that recruiters might not understand. Some examples of words to avoid are as follows:
Thinking outside the box
Another essential section to include in your CV is your education. Here you can add any formal and official degrees or qualifications you obtained throughout your life. When elaborating upon your education, make sure to include the dates, location and type of degree earned. However, there’s no need to explain much more than that, unless you achieved specific awards during your time in school. If you’re lacking work experience, then it can make sense to place more emphasis on your education and extracurricular activities instead.
It’s crucial to include relevant skills in your CV. Depending on the job or industry you’re applying for, different technical and soft skills will be applicable. Technical skills are capabilities that are necessary to perform certain physical or digital tasks. There are many different types of these skills, but some examples include the following:
Software or hardware proficiencies
On the other hand, soft skills are less quantifiable qualities that can bring value to a team in more intangible ways. They may involve a person’s ability to communicate and deal with other people, or different working characteristics. Some examples of soft skills are as follows:
These skills can be added within the descriptions of your work experience, or as an additional section near the end of your CV.
Although the main focus of your CV should be on work experience and education, you can use the extra space for additional value-adding sections. These are segments that can help show your potential for the job while not necessarily be directly related to the position. Deciding which of these sections to include will largely depend on your particular profile and the industry you’re interested in. However, some of the most common additional sections are the following:
Hobbies and other interests
Certifications and licenses
Extra training and courses
Overall, to make a winning CV you should ensure that it includes all the information that will make hiring managers see you as a good fit for the job. However, it’s also important to create an engaging, concise and aesthetically pleasing for readers to look at. Additionally, regardless of the industry you’re applying for, you should adapt your document to the specific position you’re trying to obtain.
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