Writing a CV


How to write a good CV?

This article was written by Boost – CV & Cover Letter Writers, EBF’s career partner.


What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a concise summary of your education, work experience, skills, and interests. It is a one-page document that determines whether you will be given an interview by a recruiter. To make your CV attractive and tailored to the job advert, it needs to be clear, convincing, and well-structured.

What makes a good CV?

A good CV makes you stand out among the dozens or hundreds of applicants you might be competing against. To write a winning CV, attention should be given to its outline, aesthetics, and content.

A great mix and presentation of the elements above will play a large role in convincing employers that you might be the best person for the job.

A good CV:

  • Is tailored to the job advert
  • Highlights your achievements throughout your work history
  • Includes relevant skills
  • Is well structured, eye-catching, and easily scannable
  • Is compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

6 steps to write a winning CV

  1. Header

Your header should include basic information from your personal profile:

  • First and last name
  • Job title
  • Contact details
  • Location
  • Photograph (depending on the country you apply in)
  1. Summary

The summary serves as both an introduction to your CV and a summary of your profile. It should be 2 to 4 sentences and highlight:

  • What you are passionate about
  • How much experience you have
  • Your main achievements
  • Your level of education
  • Your main relevant skills
  1. Work Experience

Before submitting your job application, make sure you tailor your entire CV to the job description - specifically your work experience and latest jobs. All potential employers are interested in experiences relevant to the job you're applying for.

In your work experience section, include:

  • Dates
  • Company name
  • Your role or title
  • Achievements
  1. Education

The same logic applies to your academic background. Make sure to include only relevant academic background, with achievements and concrete examples.

In your education section, include:

  • Dates
  • School or university name
  • Program name
  • Achievements
  1. Languages

Most employers seek multilingual candidates. If you master more than one language, make sure to include this in a dedicated section.

When listing your languages, state both your level of proficiency in words and associate an internationally-recognized language score or certificate.

  1. Skills

Choosing the right skills to highlight in your CV and which of these skills are most relevant for the job you're applying for is not an easy task. To ensure the skills you include are relevant, take a close look at the job description, which will indicate the skills the hiring managers are after.

Incorporate your skills into your CV by listing them in a dedicated skills section or by incorporating them into your career or work experience achievements. Avoid using buzzwords such as "team player" or “innovative”.

Final thoughts

By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of landing more interviews. Writing a winning CV takes dedication, time, patience, and attention to detail.

Need extra help?

Book a meeting with Boost, our CV writing partner. We also encourage you to visit Boost’s Career Tips page where you find a lot of valuable content on best interview, cover letter, LinkedIn, and CV writing practices.

Among the articles you may find interesting:

Bonus: A few more key tips

Don't send the same CV to different employers

This is the most important rule. If you want to land interviews, you're going to have to tailor your CV to each job description you apply for.

Why? Because each job and company, may they be similar, might seek different sets of skills and professional approaches for example.

To tailor your CV to the jobs you're applying for, print or open the job description and make sure you include all relevant keywords and adjust the elements you want to highlight accordingly.

Keep it short

If you have less than 5 years of experience, try to keep your professional or academic CV on one page. Keep in mind that recruiters take on average 7 seconds to review a CV.

Be concise, straight to the top, and only include relevant skills and achievements to keep your CV as short as possible. Write your CV in reverse chronological order!

Keep it simple

Again, it's likely the recruiter will only use a handful of seconds to scan your CV. Unless you work in a creativity-centered industry, such as graphic design, for example, opting for the soberest and formal-looking CV might be the best alternative.

For example, flashy colors, atypical layouts, and original wording might have the opposite effect and prevent you from even making it past the ATS.

In their research paper, published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Arnulf et al. (2010) found that formal CVs have a higher chance of being shortlisted than ones adopting a creative layout!

Our advice:

  • Stick to a common font and regular font size (11-12 points)
  • Only include relevant information
  • Stick to 2 different colors max

Most recruiters will appreciate a detailed list of your education, work history, skills, and interests...and nothing more! Sometimes, the best way to draw attention is to keep it simple.

Use bullet points

Bullet points are your CV's best friends. They make your document clearer, more concise, and easier to scan by both recruiters and ATS.

They prevent you from using large chunks of text to describe your employment experience and make you gain valuable space.

Depending on how experienced you are, try to stick to 5-8 bullet points and use power verbs at the beginning of each one of them, to make them more impactful.

Highlight your achievements

Writing a good CV is much more than just describing key responsibilities from previous employment experience or education. You really want to highlight notable achievements, projects, and concrete results you contributed.

For each relevant work experience, make sure to include concrete examples (numbers, client names, project outcomes).

Beware of "Best CV" templates you find online

While there are many great professional CV templates out there, beware of their format, notably from an ATS perspective. Some platforms might have developed CV templates that are not scannable by Applicant Tracking Systems, or not easily readable for hiring managers.

Make sure you keep your CV simple, with clear headings, and focus as much on the content as the aesthetics.

Avoid spelling errors and grammar mistakes

Well, this kind of goes without saying. If the English language is not your forte, we highly recommend you use spellcheck tools such as Grammarly for example.

Using Grammarly will help you focus on the content of your CV without worrying about spelling mistakes. It will also prevent you from sending a document full of typos, among the common CV mistakes many candidates make."

This article was written by Boost – CV & Cover Letter Writers, EBF’s career partner.

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