Also referred to as résumé, a CV is your personal marketing tool – it provides a summary of your professional work history and qualifications. Learn how to craft one that makes you look your best.

A CV is an important part of a job application. An in-depth well-crafted résumé can do wonders when it comes to getting the job you desire. A résumé is a summary of your work history and qualifications. It is meant to convince a prospective employer that you’re an outstanding candidate for employment and that they should seek more information from you through a personal interview.

In essence, your résumé is a sales pitch – an important marketing document that should be carefully crafted to ‘sell’ your skills, abilities, qualifications, and experience to a potential employer.

What Makes a Good CV?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to résumé writing. However, most experts agree that a good résumé is:

  • Tailored to a specific job and demonstrates the relevant skills you have to offer.
  • Laid out in a logical order, with good spacing and clear section headings.
  • Brief but informative – two sides of A4 will almost always suffice.
  • Positive and true to the fact.
  • Free from error in content, spelling, and grammar.

What to Include

There’s no universally accepted format, but your résumé should cover these elements:

Personal details

This should include your name, address, telephone number, and email address (use a professional email address format). A passport style photograph may also be necessary under certain circumstances. These include where a candidate is applying for an acting or modelling position, where a recruiter actually requests one or when applying for a job in certain countries such as France, Belgium, and Germany.

If you do include a photo, be sure that it is a business-like portrait. It should be recent, show your head and shoulders only (background should be neutral in colour), and feature you in your normal professional outfit.

Details such as your nationality, date of birth and driving licence status are optional.

Education and Qualifications

Your educational achievements should be listed here, along with the school attended, dates of study, and degree received. For vocational qualifications include the modules/units that you have studied. Present your educational achievements in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent.

Work Experience

  • If you’re using a chronological résumé format, list your jobs in reverse chronological order with your current, or most recent job, first.
  • For a skills-based résumé, divide your work history into themes (for example, Recruiting, Designing, Customer Service, Insurance, Sales/Marketing, Management, just to name a few).
  • Use action words such as coordinated, planned, created, trained, and organised when describing your skills or qualifications. For instance, under Design, you can write something like “Created graphics and designs for travel brochures, restaurant flyers, and marathon events using Sketch, Adobe Creative Suite, and InVision.” Under Sales/Marketing, you can write something like “Trained, supervised, and directed teams that handled product development, public relations, packaging, merchandising, and graphic design.

Hobbies and Interests

There’s no need to include a hobbies and interests section if you’re a well-experienced candidate. Your career history should have enough information to convince the recruiter that you’re worthy of reaching the interview stage. However, it’s a good idea to include it if you don’t have much work experience or relevant qualification.

Here are some tips for writing an interesting hobbies section:

  • Keep it short and to the point – try to keep it between two to three bullet points, with each point ideally describing the interest in no more than one or two lines.
  • Mention interests that are relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, you can mention blogging when applying for a journalism job or coding when applying for a technology job.
  • Be sure to include a variety of interests on your résumé. Employers normally look for well-rounded individuals who will be valuable assets to their companies. For this reason, include a range of interests to show that you have diverse skills and can wear many hats.
  • Add a hobby that is a little out of the ordinary to help your résumé stand out from the rest. This may be bungee jumping, zip lining, or storm chasing.
  • Mention activities that show evidence of leadership. You can list any leadership roles you have outside of work such as coach or captain of a sports team, secretary of a parent-teacher organization or scout leader.
  • Include interests that can provide evidence of employability skills. A good example of this is fundraising – it shows the ability to handle negotiations.

Things to avoid

  • Avoid old boring clinches like “listening to music” or “socializing.”
  • Do not mention hobbies or interests that imply a passive and solitary personality. These include reading, stamp collecting, doing puzzles, watching TV, just to name a few. If you want to include such hobbies, be sure to give a reason why.

Skills

The skills section of your résumé should include key skills that can give you an edge over other applicants. Additionally, these abilities should be relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, applicants of a customer service job can include the following skills on their résumé:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Fluent in French and Germany
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Computing skills

References

You don’t need to provide the names of your references during the application process unless requested by the employer. Most employers will ask for references specifically during the end of the recruitment process.

Your list of references should include two people who can attest to your qualifications for the job – a professor/project supervisor/tutor and your previous employer.

While adding a personal profile section at the beginning of your résumé may not be necessary, it can come in handy when applying for a job in a competitive sector such as music, publishing or advertising.

Have in mind that there is no right or wrong way to format a CV. All you need to do is choose a format that is appropriate for the job you are applying for and will highlight your skills, qualifications, and experience.

Once you’re done with the CV, consider writing a cover letter. A cover letter will provide details on how your skills align with the job. It will also explain what you can bring to the organization that other applicants can’t.