Applying for a job or an internship? Stuck with an unprofessional CV? Don’t know how to make one? Don’t worry, we have your back.
No matter who you are or where you are in life, you should have a curriculum vitae (CV) ready. A high school student set to graduate next year? Yep. In a stable job? Definitely.
But why? Because regardless of how qualified or experienced you are, your CV is what stands between you and the job you deserve. If your CV is badly written, you will even have trouble landing the interview. Now it may sound intimidating, but don’t worry because we are here to help you through this process.
What is a CV?
A CV is a bit like an advertisement. It is to market you to your employers and demonstrate how you meet your employer’s requirements by having the right qualifications and experience. But don’t get me wrong, your CV isn’t to log your job history or to summarise your skill set.
It should be mentioned that a CV doesn’t guarantee you a job. A good CV increases your chances of landing that interview.
So write your CV to impress your prospective employers. Remember, there is no point padding it with unnecessary information. After all, when was the last time you looked at a text-heavy ad for more than 10 seconds?
How to format a CV
There are a few formats when it comes to writing CVs. As we don’t want spoil you for choice, we will just talk about the the more common ones.
This is the more conventional format for writing CVs and you will probably find a version of this if you Google “CV.” This format lists your education and experience chronologically and shows how you have progressed in your career. Stick to this format if you are new to the job market. However, if you have had major gaps in your career, or have been changing jobs regularly, it is best to steer clear of this format.
Instead of focusing on career progression, this format highlights your skill set first and foremost. If you have gaps in your job history, or you feel that you have a lot of experience in a specific field, then this format is for you.
What information to include in a CV
Before deciding on what information to add, remember that much of it depends on which format you have chosen. As a general guide, however, you can follow this format:
1. Contact information
The name for this section speaks for itself. List your name, mailing address, telephone number, email address, and a link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one). It goes without saying, but make sure that all the information you use is appropriate (don’t use your high school email address if it is cringeworthy), and updated.
The first part of your CV is the introduction, and this is what could make or break your future job. Surveys suggest that 80% of CVs are discarded within the first 10 seconds of reading. Your introduction should outline your major achievements (which are relevant to the job you are applying for), and what you can bring to this job.
3. Qualifications and experience
This is the meaty part of your CV; the part where you detail why you should be hired. Here, you list your qualifications, like a university degree, state your degree, your educational institution’s name and city. When you detail your experience, remember to only include relevant experience. Your employers at the bank probably don’t care what club you were president of in school (although that does not make it any less of an achievement). Make sure you also state the company’s name and city.
4. Additional sections
Before you save and send off your CV, add a few extra sections detailing your certifications, publications, awards, technical skills or additional skills which might be relevant. If you have already been shortlisted for the job, this is what might give you that extra edge you need to land that job.
When you detail your experience, remember to only include relevant experience. Your employers at the bank probably don’t care what club you were president of in school
So now that you have a draft, it’s time to make it pretty. Not with glitter and rainbow colours, but with some good quality word processing.
1. Font and sizing
This should be obvious, but a lot of times, it isn’t. It is pretty simple if you think about it. Choose a font and size that is easy to read, and be consistent throughout. If you are still not sure what I mean, just use Times New Roman. Boring? Sure, but at least you look professional. As a general rule, size your fonts to be appropriate to the section. Write your name in 24pt, your body headers in 12pt, and everything else in 10pt.
2. Number of pages
Do a double check to make sure the CV is not too long. A rule of thumb is a page of CV for every 10 years of experience. However, if you feel that you cannot add enough relevant information, then feel free to add an extra page.
Ah yes, the margins. The part of the word processor you never notice. Your prospective employer, however will not fail to notice your margins. A safe bet is to keep your margins at a single inch. If you have too much information, you can cheat a bit and reduce margins. Too much and its overkill making your page look crowded.
So that is it. A simple guide to making a CV. Once you have done it, give yourself two pats on the back.
One for writing a perfect CV and the other for the job you will soon land.