How to write an impressive CV?

Published on LinkedIn by Irena Lovrenčič Držanič Technical Associate (Institute of Media Communications - UM).

How to write an impressive CV?

Writing a CV should not be a very difficult task; however, many students still have trouble expressing their potential on a piece of paper. So how to write a CV that will impress the employer?

First, you need to bear in mind that this is your ticket to a job interview and only the best candidates get through. You might be the best, but if your experience, knowledge, skills and competences are not properly presented you could miss out.

Make sure your CV meets these four characteristics: makes a good impression, is written clearly and is easy to read, singles you out and is visually attractive.

In theory, there are many types of CV’s: chronological, functional, academic, creative, video CV, etc. The most commonly used is the chronological CV, which will be discussed in this article. The idea behind the chronological type is that you list your career history in chronological order (from the last work experience to the first one). However, there is an exception to this rule. You may start with the work experience that is the most relevant for the job that you are applying for.

As a holder of a PhD degree, you might also use the academic type of CV, which is emphasizing your academic experience and research activities. It is often used, when applying for a position in the field of science and a higher level of degree is required.

In the next few lines, I will sum up some guidelines that will hopefully make writing your CV easier.

  1. I highly recommend you to write a summary statement (personal profile), where you write in three or four sentences who you are, your general experience and your specific skills. You may also include your ambitions. Always have in mind the position you are applying for.
  2. Career history (work experience): When listing your career history, you do not need to list and explain everything. You can limit it to the last ten years or list only the most important 3 work experiences relevant for the job position. Make sure you include the name of the employer, work period, position, tasks, description of your work and most important, your accomplishments/achievements. You can use the simple CAR (Challenge Action Result) formula. A question that often occurs among students is what to include in work experience. My answer is that work experience covers regular work as part of the employment contract, internship, traineeship, student work, project work and voluntary experience. If you hold a PhD degree, do not forget to describe your research field and your achievements. It is up to you whether to include the previous career history (more than ten years back) or not. Have in mind that your CV can be max. 2 pages long. My advice is to refer to your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Skills and competences: In this section of your CV write down the languages that you speak and which computer programs you are familiar with (especially if you come from IT and computer science fields). You can also list other skills and competences here, such as good communication skills, team leading, etc., but I rather recommend to include these skills in the career history part, where you describe your job responsibilities (for example: I was head of the customer service, where I had daily contacts with clients. Therefore, I developed good communication skills …).
  4. What about the photo? There is no general rule that a CV should have a photo. In some countries a photo is required, in some a photo should be left out and in others it is your choice whether you include a photo or not. If you decide to include a photo in your CV, make sure that you look professional, white background is preferred. Do not use a selfie or webcam photo.
  5. Other relevant information: If you hold a PhD degree, it is important that you also mention your publications in scientific journals.
  6. Europass CV Yes or No: If the employer requires that you send a Europass CV, you should do so. If not, it is better to write your own form of CV, because you can better adjust the information you want to include. To simplify, adapt the form of CV to you and not vice versa. There are many good online tools for designing a CV (for example Canva).

Your CV reflects who you are, so it is important that you put some effort in it. Adjust your CV to every occasion, so that the employer can easily see that you actually are a good fit for the position.

Mateja Hanžurej, Career adviser, University of Maribor

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