A curriculum vitae, more commonly referred to with the abbreviation “CV”, is an indispensable element that precedes every job interview. Together with the familiar cover letter, it forms the occasion for a potential future employer to invite you for an interview - and possibly more.
A good CV concisely indicates what you can do, who you are, in what areas your personal strengths lie and where you developed these qualities.
Drafting a CV
CV´s are often the first thing a potential employer looks at when he receives your papers. So in many cases this document is also the initial introduction to you as a person, hence the interest in creating a truly outstanding CV. When drafting a CV, you´re selling yourself: you want to highlight your qualities and emphasise (with a certain subtlety) your positive points.
The different types of CV´s
There are several different types of CV: the most frequently-encountered is the timeline variant, also known as a chronological CV. In it you name the jobs you’ve already had, starting from the most recent and going back in time to your very first job. The functional CV is also quite common. In it you take your personal skills as the basis. In some situations it’s also worthwhile to come up with your very own structure. Such a more imaginative curriculum vitae often scores well when applying for creative positions, but would be out of place if e.g. you’re looking for a button-down business job. Always keep in mind what the goal of your CV is...
The structure of a CV
Proceeding on the assumption that you will use the standard variant, the CV is composed of a number of fixed parts:
Here you set forth your personal data, things like name, address and contact information. It’s customary here to also mention whether you’re married and whether you have a driving licence.
Indicate the studies you pursued and where you did them. Start with your most recent studies, then those you took prior to that, and so on.
An overview of your former employers. It is customary to give a concise overview of exactly what you did for this organisation. Here too the rule applies: start with the most recent job, followed by the work you did before that.
This section leaves room for mentioning extra skills. Some applicants use it to note their knowledge of automation, such as experience with various types of software. It is also customary to specify the languages you speak and/or understand - especially for applications to international companies.
- By its very nature, drafting a CV is always a personal thing. Every applicant is different, so every document will look different;
- Don´t tell fibs. A bit of exaggeration here and there might seem like a good idea to boost your activities, but recruiters generally have BS detectors leading them to zoom in mercilessly on precisely those points;
- Focus on the facts. It’s the cover letter that is intended for getting to know you as a person – drafting a CV only calls for hard data;
- Use clear language! Avoid jargon and adopt an active writing style;
- Make sure there are no gaps in your CV. Not literally, of course. What we mean is, avoid that the employer has to ask what you were doing between, say, 2011 and 2013. As applicable, indicate what secondary activities you were busy with;
- Very important: keep it short. In some cases, CV´s that are longer than two A4 pages don´t even get a glance. So stick to the point!