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How to Write The Perfect CV | A Complete Tutorial

So you want to build the perfect CV? Don't worry, it is not as difficult as you might think.

Unlike many tutorials, we are not going to give you general tips and guidelines. We will walk you through the creation of one sample CV from scratch to completion.

By the end of this tutorial, you will have a complete "fill in the blanks" resume and the only things that you need to add are personal info and some industry-specific jargon.

Let's start.


The first page is the most important one. 85% of all resumes end up in the trash bin due to an unimpressive first page. It has to be clear, attractive, and compelling enough for the reader to move on to other pages.

Name Comes First

Start the CV with your name in a big font in the middle of the page. The reader needs to know whom they are reading about.


Some people start their CV with phrases like "curriculum vitae" or "John Smith Resume". We all know it's a CV; why put in bold face and big font? By doing this you are wasting valuable space of your CV which we desperately need to showcase more important stuff.

Job Title

After the name comes the job title. The job title is what you do or what you want to be.

The reader needs to immediately figure out what type of position you are interested in from the first 2 seconds of looking into your CV.

This is the most common mistake applicants do. Countless eligible candidate CVs where thrown in the garbage bin because the HR department or recruitment personal couldn't figure out the applicant's profession.

Keep in mind that HR people have stacks of hundreds of CVs piled in front of them and they can only spare a few seconds to determine whether a certain CV fits to the vacant position. If they can't relate your CV to the advertised position immediately, chances are you won't be considered even if you are the best person for the job.





No Career Objective

We recommend against the use of "Career Objective" unless your objective is not obvious; for example if you are looking for a part time job or summer training.

The reason is that your job title (which you just wrote above) tells the whole story. 99% of all career objectives we've seen contain useless and pointless cliche phrases that add no value what so ever.

Consider the below career objectives. They are taken from real CVs.


Seeking a career that allows me to effectively apply my skills and provides me at the same time with learning improvement and future growth.

Looking forward to varied and challenging assignments in a competitive and dynamic work environment, where I can learn and grow and at the same time, contribute to the company objectives.

To pursue my career in a company that utilizes my initiative, organizational and public relation skills. To work as part of a team, to assume responsibilities and implement ideas and to use my abilities to contribute to the development and growth of the organization.

The problem with career objectives is that they are all the same, and because of that no one is reading them anymore

Your career objective is nothing more than the vacancy you wish to fill.





Career Summary

The "Career Summary" is a small paragraph that summarizes your education and experience and highlights an important achievement in your career in three to four lines.

The purpose of the career summary is to give the reader a snap shot of your entire CV in one paragraph.

Consider This Example


I hold a degree in Computer Science from the University of Harvard (2005). I have total experience of seven years working as a programmer for many companies including Apple, Orange and Watermelon. I am also a certified international programmer from the International Programming Institute.

Notice that in three lines, the reader gets an almost complete idea of the applicant's history.

They know when he graduated, his major, how many years of experience he has, his career level (junior, intermediate or expert), important companies he worked for, his previous job title and what kind of certifications he has. All in three lines!

Let's look at two more examples.


I am a certified International Programmer with more than 7 years of experience working as a programmer in a number of multinational companies. I hold a degree in Computer Science from the University of Harvard (2004).

I have more than 7 years of experience working as a programmer at different levels. I graduated in 2004 and hold a BS degree in Computer Science. I have extensive exposure to all aspects of programming and I can easily step into a more advanced role.

The resume shoud look something like this fror now:




Qualifications

Qualifications are reasons to hire you. Think of your strongest selling points. You need to give the reader unquestionable reasons of why you are best person for the job. Examples Get Inspired.


Examples of Qualifications

1) Experience: More than seven years of programming experience

2) Higher Education: Masters degree in Computer Science

3) Certifications: Microsoft Certified Developer

4) Past Achievements: Delivered more than 20 successful software projects

5) Improvements you can bring: Reduce project time through the use of IDE

6) Professional Qualities: Hard working, fast, team player, multi-tasked and dependable

7) Industry Specific Exposure: Proficient in four programming languages

8) Deep knowledge: Deep understanding of conceptual programming designs

Don't list just generic qualities like hardworking, team player, multi-tasked, etc. Those are great qualities but they are are self proclaimed and cannot be easily supported by facts. Alse severyone has them (or at least say that they do).

Competencies

A competency is a skill that you need to know or have in order to fulfill your job. Some competencies are essential while others are optional. Competencies are different from qualifications. Qualifications are reasons to hire you while competencies are the skills you have. To explain more what competencies mean; consider these examples:


Cashier:
» Use of barcode scanners
» Understanding bar codes
» Use Credit Card machines
etc.

Car Mechanic:
» Change of oil and brakes
» Troubleshoot oil leakage
» Fix car electrical issues
etc.

Nurse:
» Use of injections
» Blood taking
etc.

To make full use of the competencies section, you should not list obvious or trivial skills. You need to mention important competencies that can set you apart from others.

For example, it's trivial for any cashier to be "able to count money". Don't use that as a competency, it is very obvious. But "Understanding bar code notation" is really something desirable and brings attention. Just remember not to use obvious skills.

Back to our programmer friend:


Example Competencies:
» Testing and Debugging old code
» Project Documentation
» Technical writing
» Code reuse
» Component Integration




Achievements

Here you need to think of all the important accomplishments you made in your career up till now. We know it can be very difficult for some to make achievements in the capacity of their jobs but still spend some time to think of at least one thing. If you can come up with something then great, otherwise skip this section.

To help you, we categorized achievements by type. See if you can find one or more fitting to you.


Achievements By Type

  • Save Money:
    did you save any of your previous employers money in one way or another?

  • Cost Reduction:
    did you manage to reduce the operational or production costs in a past role?

  • Increase Revenue:
    did you manage to increase the revenue for your employers in a way or another?

  • Increase in Sales:
    did you have a major role in increasing sales?

  • Time Reduction:
    did you have any suggestions or plans to reduce production or operational time? Did you make things go faster?

  • Productivity Increase:
    did you implement a plan to increase productivity?

  • Work Place Improvements:
    did you improve the processes or the way the business runs?

  • Quality Improvement:
    did you improve the quality of the products or services?

  • Customer Satisfaction:
    did you increase customer satisfaction?

  • Fast Handover:
    did you deliver any project ahead of time?

  • Local Improvements:
    did you improve any aspect in the scope of your own job?

  • Initiatives:
    did you take any initiatives? Did you successfully handle tasks outside the scope of your job description?

  • General Improvements:
    is there anything else that you made that had a positive impact on the company?

  • Major Projects:
    in addition to the above, any major project you implemented or participated in can be listed as an achievement.

Weaknesses

Weaknesses?? Are we serious? You might think that this is a totally stupid and bad idea but read on.

Do you really want to be different? Do you want to stand unique? Do you want to grab attention?

This could be the most impressive part of the entire CV

We are not really going to list actual weaknesses but dream qualities portrayed as weaknesses.

An example will illustrate this better. Consider the word "Perfectionist". A perfectionist is a person who strives to make things as good as possible. This is a dream quality that every employer would love to see in their staff.

How is this weakness? Let's write the following:


Perfectionist: I strive for perfection in everything I do which sometimes leads to delay in submitting the end result. I'm learning to control this enthusiasm by defining levels of what is acceptable, what is good, and what is perfect.

How wonderful! You have just stated a dream quality but disguised it as a weakness. Subconsciously, your employers just love that. You have also explained to the reader that you are working on resolving the weakness [dream quality] and not just ignoring it.


Now what does including weaknesses say about you?

  • You practice self criticism, which means you are much capable of self development.

  • You are able to see things from an objective point of view which makes you a professional.

  • You are open to criticism from others since you successfully exercised self criticism.

  • You are honest and not afraid to state the facts even if they are not in your favor.

Let's consider another example:


Strict: I tend to be overly strict with my subordinates to insure job is done on time and according to the standards. I am learning to control my desire to push my staff to the limit by motivation rather than supervision.

Another dream quality ! You are strict, you put the company's interest first, you want the best results, and you want them in record time. Congratulations, you are hired.




Education

Education and experience can be interchanged. If your education is more impressive than your professional history put it first, otherwise put education after experience.

I recommend that you put the education first no matter what your situation is. The reasoning is that the education section is much shorter than experience. The reader may need to know what your highest degree before delving into your professional history.

Needless to say, education has to be listed from newest to oldest because usually your latest degree is the highest. The only rare exception is that if you have a second degree and the new degree is lower than the old.


Honors and Awards

If you have honors or awards from any university, school or organization mention it. This section is optional. If you don't have any honors just skip it. Honors come usually from educational institutes but can also be awarded from other organizations or companies.



Certifications

Every industry in the world has some sort of certifications specific to it. If you have any certificates, mention them here from newest to oldest.

Trainings and Courses

Trainings, courses and conferences go here. Feel free to control the order but it is recommended to put the most significant ones at the top.

Experience

Previous jobs must be listed from newest to oldest always. For every job, there is an optional achievements section.

You remember that we placed one achievements section previously. Well here is another chance for you to list even more accomplishments.

Position-wise achievements are optional but recommended.




Skills

This is the place to list technical and domain related phrases. In this section, feel free to be as detailed as needed.

You may be wondering what's the difference is between skills and competencies, which we wrote earlier. In skills, you enumerate detailed information of software, systems, machines etc. and other things you can work on. In competencies, you only mention high level qualities that make you eligible for the job.

Contrast the points we listed in competencies and the below.



Computer Skills

Unless you are applying for a technology job, it is good to list what computer skills you have.


Memberships

If you are a member in any organization or community, list it here. Put the most important ones at the top.


Languages

List the languages you are proficient at with respect to speaking, reading and writing.


Personal and Contact Information

Not much to explain here. Use your date of birth not age because age changes all the time and you need to always remember to update it. Don't put your passport number or anything like that. The below fields should be more than enough.


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