Here’s how to write a CV:
- Make sure you know when to use a CV
- Pick the best CV format
- Add your contact information the right way
- Start with a CV personal profile (CV summary or CV objective)
- List your relevant work experience & key achievements
- Build your CV education section correctly
- Put relevant skills that fit the job opening
- Include additional CV sections to impress the recruiter
- Organize this all on a professional CV template
- Complement your CV with a cover letter
What Employers and Recruiters HATE to see on a CV:
- Spelling errors and poor grammar
- Inaccurate dates & Information
- Long paragraphs
- Unqualified candidates
- Information unrelated to the job
- An understanding of how hiring managers read documents today – it is critical to format a CV to look just as great online as it does in print.
Here’s a disturbing thought:
Every time you’re looking for a job, you compete against 250 other candidates on average.
Yes, you read that right.
Imagine you are the recruiter and you have to review 250 job applications. Do you thoroughly read all of them? Nah, of course you don’t.
Recruiters spend only 6 seconds scanning each CV. So the very first impression is key. If you submit a neat, properly organised document, you’ll convince the recruiters to spend more time on your CV.
A poorly formatted CV, on the other hand, will get you discarded in the first-round review.
Here’s how to format a CV the right way:
- Start with creating a CV outline divided into the following sections:
- Sample CV Format
- CV Header with Contact Information
- Personal Profile: CV Objective or CV Summary
- Work Experience
- Additional Sections
Pro Tip: If you’re fresh out of uni and need to write a student CV with no experience, or if you’ve graduated from a very prestigious institution within the last 5 years, put your education section above your work experience.
1. Choose clear, legible fonts
Go for one of the standard CV typefaces: Arial, Tahoma, or Helvetica if you prefer sans-serif fonts, and Times New Roman or Bookman Old Style if serif fonts are your usual pick.
Use 11 to 12 pt font size and single spacing. For your name and section titles, pick 14 to 16 pt font size.
2. Be consistent with your CV layout
Set one-inch margins for all four sides.
Make sure your CV headings are uniform—make them larger and in bold but go easy on italics and underlining.
Stick to a single dates format on your CV: for example 11-2017, or November 2017.
3. Don’t cram your CV with gimmicky graphics
Less is more.
White space is your friend—recruiters need some breathing room!
Plus, most of the time, after you send out your CV, it’s going to be printed in black ink on white paper. Too many graphics might make it illegible.
4. Get photos off of your CV
Unless you’re explicitly asked to include your photograph in the job ad.
If so—make sure to use a professional looking picture, but not as stiff as an ID photo.
5. Make your CV brief and relevant
Don’t be one of those candidates stuck in the nineties who think they have to include every single detail about their lives on their CVs.
Hiring, nowadays, is one hell of a hectic business. Nobody’s got the time to care for what high school you’ve attended or to read 10+ bullet point descriptions of past jobs. We’ll get to that later on.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve finished writing, save your CV in PDF to make sure your CV layout stays intact. But pay close attention to the job description. Some employers won’t accept a PDF CV. If such is the case, send your CV in Word.
Learn more about CV formatting from this quick dedicated guide I’ve written recently: CV Formatting—The Ideal Structure for a CV
Alright, so you’ve got the best CV template ready for you and you know the basic CV writing rules. Time to dive in!