A CV (curriculum vitae) is very similar to a resume, and submitted alongside applications for job or educational opportunities, among other things. A CV is generally more comprehensive than a resume--typically longer in length and more in depth. A CV also tends to contain more personal details, particularly in Europe, where CVs often include photos of the applicant and information about his or her hobbies and interests.
So what makes a good CV?
At some point in time you will probably need to create a CV for job applications. Learning the skills to write a great CV are vastly important and can be a key to career success. Though the job market is increasingly tough these days, the right CV can give you just the competitive edge you need.
What a Great CV looks like
First and foremost, your CV should be legible, clean, and have a simple, yet attractive layout and design. A template can be really handy when creating a CV from scratch. Your CV should exude professionalism, even from first glance. Pay careful attention to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes.
Though opinions differ on the proper length of a CV, it is important to be thorough yet prudent. No one wants to read a CV of ten pages. Similarly, a one-page CV is okay, but not when all the information is crammed onto one page in a tiny font. Your CV should reflect that you are a professional.
What’s Included in a Great CV
Previous work experience should be listed, especially those positions held which were most relevant to the job at hand. Following a standard format for work experience is advisable, as that makes this section easier for potential employers to skim. Be certain to include years at each position and details of duties performed. It’s wonderful if you can present these past positions in a way which shows what great contributions you made at each previous employer. You can really highlight your skills and attributes here.
Education is a definite element to include on your CV, particularly if you are a recent graduate with limited work experience. College and university degrees should be listed, and many professionals suggest including test scores if particularly impressive, and mentioning whether or not you graduated with merit, if applicable. Feel free to include other relevant training, too, even if it was not undertaken as part of a university course.
Many human resource professionals believe that you should have a section containing information on your abilities and skills. This is useful again if you have limited job experience, but may be helpful either way. Language knowledge should definitely be included here, as speaking a foreign language can be a huge asset to an employer. Abilities and skills are best listed when paired with identifiable examples of how these abilities have been demonstrated. A section on skills can list any certifications or special training. This is one section in which you should provide as much information as possible, as you may never know what unique skill an employee may be looking for.
References are commonly listed on a CV. Typically, no more than 3 individual references will be necessary. These references should be people who have worked with you in an employment or educational capacity. If you’re a recent graduate, these references might be professors or management from an internship.
Important Elements of a CV
When writing a CV, resume, or other application materials for a job, keywords will be very important. Keywords can be deciphered by checking out the post for the job you’re applying for, as well as other advertisements for similar positions. Often, an initial scan of documents for keywords weeds out applicants who aren’t as great of a match for the hiring company. Therefore, keywords should not be ignored.
Other important elements that you should try your best to include on a CV include enhancing things such as leadership skills. Not only are job-specific attributes helpful to list on your CV, but people skills and social abilities can be extremely effective in helping you land that job. Demonstrate the ways in which you’ve worked as a team, lead a group of people, or supported the overall goals and mission of your past employers.
When applying to a job, you should always carefully go through your CV and tweak and polish it to be geared specifically toward the particular job for which you are applying. This, like with discovering keywords, may require a bit of research on your part. You want to be sure you’re aiming to match your CV to the qualifications and job description the potential employer has laid out in their advertisements. It never hurts to know as much about the company you are hoping to work for, either. Check out the company’s website to familiarize yourself with their goals, history, and mission statement. In the event that you land an interview, this information could be extremely helpful, but in the interim, this knowledge will help you better design your CV.
And don't forget to use a fantastic email cover letter template!
Though hundreds of websites out there will claim to know the “right” and “wrong” of writing a CV, it’s good to trust your instincts, and always aim towards being professional. If something unique works for you time and time again, don’t be afraid to continue to stand out. No matter what design your CV takes or how the various sections are presented, as long as you provide honest, correct information and work hard at making your CV attractive, easy-to-read, and polished, you are sure to be successful.