How to write a job-winning CV (Curriculum vitae) with a Sample CV

What is a cv?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a professional document that describes the education, accomplishments, and experience of an individual. It allows the job applicant to sell their abilities and capabilities to potential employers to win an employment opportunity. Despite being used for job applications in regions such as Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa, a CV is mainly used to apply for positions in academics, scientific, medical, or education as well as grants.

What is the difference between cv and resume?

The difference between a CV and a resume is primarily location-based. In some regions, the employer may request a CV while in others they may ask for a resume. In regions such as Europe, a CV and a resume are used interchangeably to mean the same thing. Therefore, if a potential employer requests a resume they could as well mean a CV. However, in the United States, the two mean different things. A CV is used to refer to a long academic diary containing details of the applicant’s publications, experiences, education, and achievements. On the other hand, a resume is a simple one-page summary of the background and work experience relevant to the job. As such, in the United States, a CV is primarily used for job applications or applying for academic positions while a resume is mainly used to hunt for jobs. Another outstanding difference between a CV and a resume is that a resume is customized for a specific job while a CV is a comprehensive professional document covering one’s professional history.

What to include in a CV

Contact information: Your CV should have your contact details such as full name, mobile number, and email address through which the employer can reach you. Some employers may require you to include a photograph or passport photo, however, this is unnecessary if not required. Date of birth is also irrelevant for a basic job application unless you are applying for age-sensitive jobs such as the military.

Brief profile: This is a short description of the applicant’s major attributes including their achievements, skills and career goals. This serves as an introductory statement to your CV and should come at the top after your contact information. Make it as short as 5 sentences and relevant to the job or the position you are applying. For those using the CV for academic positions, this section can be a general personal statement.

Education history: List your education and professional qualifications in reverse-chronological order starting with the most recent. Ensure that the qualifications are relevant to the position you are applying for.

Professional experience: Provide a list of your work experience in reverse-chronological order. This includes the name of the organization, the period of employment, your position at the company, and a summary of your responsibilities and achievements. Ensure that the experience is relevant to the position you are applying for and if you have extensive experience then put this section before education.

Skills and qualifications: provide a list of skills both hard and soft acquired over your career. Soft skills are personal competencies or abilities such as leadership skills, time management, good interpersonal skills, and many more. The hard skills are technical capabilities such as the ability to use Excel spreadsheet for analysis and visualization, computer programming skills, computer repair skills, network configuration skills, etc. It is important to keep your skills and qualifications relevant to the position. Moreover, it is important to understand that the interviewing panel may test you on the skills listed and that’s why you should not exaggerate.

Awards and honor: List awards and honors relevant to the position including the name of the award, the year as well as the organization that issued the award.

Publications: Publications are particularly important when applying for academic positions or senior jobs. They demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the industry. List your publications by indicating full citation, co-authors, summary, date, and page number.

Grants and scholarships: Provide a list of your scholarships or grants if you have any. It should consist of the name of the scholarship or grant, the institution that offered the scholarship, and the date you were awarded.

Licenses and certification: You will need licenses for certain jobs such as nursing which requires a certification of members to practice. List the licenses by including the name, date earned, and institution that issued it.

Interests: this section is also optional, however, it can spice up your CV if you provide relevant interests. Relevant interests such as engaging in community support groups when looking for a job in community development can help create a positive picture about your compassion for the position.

References: You can leave this section out or indicate that reference available upon request.

How to write a good CV

  • List in reverse chronological order so that the recruiters can access your most recent achievements.
  • Maintain professional font types that are clear and easily readable such Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri with font size of 10 to 12. Ensure that the font types and font sizes are consistent throughout your CV
  • Include section heading in bold to make them stand out and direct focus to the content of the section
  • Use bullet points and consistent spacing to make the CV concise and easy to skim through. Most recruiters take about 6 seconds on a CV and having stories or long sentences may make it tiring.
  • Give a name to the document preferably your name followed by “CV” (e.g. john-doe-CV). This will help the recruiter easily identify your CV otherwise it might be easily ignored and bundled with other unnamed documents.
  • Ensure that your CV is free from grammar and spelling errors by running it on a spell checker or having someone else review it for you
  • Ensure that your CV is tailored to the job and the interests of the company. Look up for  more information about the company on their website or social media.
  • Avoid using generic phrases such as “hardworking” or “team player”. Instead focus on personalizing your CV with real-life examples.

Sample of a cv

Follow the link to download a sample of CV

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