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How to Write a CV: Make the Perfect Curriculum Vitae in 2023

How to write a CV

Have you ever experienced sending your CV for a job application and waiting eagerly for a call back, but it never happened? This scenario is quite common, and the reason could be that your CV was not good enough, resulting in it not being read by the employer. Therefore, how to write a CV is a popular question in recent years. There is a solution to ensure that your CV stands out and gets the attention it deserves. Master the art of crafting a winning CV with our comprehensive guide on how to write a CV that will impress any employer.

This is a guide that will guide you on How to write a CV (curriculum vitae):

To ensure an effective CV, follow a specific structure. The top section should contain essential contact details. The summary should highlight your experience and accomplishments.

The rest of your CV should provide relevant information that proves you are the ideal candidate for the job. Our guide will outline each of these steps in detail, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of how to create a successful CV.

What is a CV?

The meaning of the abbreviation “CV” is Curriculum Vitae, a Latin phrase that can be translated as “course of life.”

In certain countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia, a CV is primarily used for academic purposes and provides an exhaustive summary of your scholarly career.

However, in certain areas, a CV is practically identical to a resume and is employed for seeking job prospects.

Despite some variations in length and usage across different countries, a CV is generally synonymous with a resume. If you’re still unsure about the differences, check out our comprehensive guide on what a CV entails.

Differences between CV and resume?

It is crucial to clarify that currently, there is hardly any distinction between a CV and a resume in the job market.

In the UK, a CV is what the US would call a resume, just as they differentiate between other terms like chips and French fries.

When applying to a European company, it is advisable to submit a CV, but if you’re seeking employment with a US-based employer, a resume is necessary.

It’s also important to note that a CV should not be mistaken for a cover letter, as the two are completely different documents.

A CV offers an extensive account of your employment history, educational background, and expertise, while a cover letter serves as a compelling promotional instrument.

For more information on the differences between a CV and a cover letter, check out our guide.

If you’ve determined that a curriculum vitae is the best option for your job search, let’s get started on this writing guide.

1. Pick the Best CV Format

It’s important to acknowledge that when you apply for a job, you’re up against an average of 250 other candidates, which is a staggering number.

Just picture yourself as the recruiter tasked with reviewing all 250 applications – it’s unlikely that you would have enough time to read each one thoroughly.

In fact, recruiters typically spend only 6 seconds scanning each CV, making a strong first impression crucial.

A well-organized and neat document will make a positive impact on the recruiters and encourage them to spend more time on your CV.

Conversely, a poorly formatted CV will most likely get rejected in the initial review stage.

To ensure your CV is properly formatted, start by creating an outline that’s divided into several sections.

Optimizing Your CV: Arranging Sections in the Right Sequence

  1. CV Header with Personal Contact Information
  2. Crafting Your Professional Introduction with CV Objective / Summary
  3. Past & Present Work Experience
  4. Educational Record
  5. Skills / Expertise
  6. Additional Sections (Hobbies, Affiliation etc)

Pro Tip: Prioritize your education section over work experience in a student CV if you lack work experience or graduated from a prestigious institution in the last 5 years. This applies especially to recent university graduates. One way to offset the deficiency in work experience is by emphasizing your education.

As you fill out each section of your CV, remember to adhere to the essential formatting guidelines.

1. Choose clear, legible fonts

Select one of the standard CV fonts, such as Arial, Tahoma, or Helvetica for a sans-serif style, or Times New Roman or Bookman Old Style for a serif font.

Keep the font size between 11 to 12 points with single spacing, and use a font size of 14 to 16 points for your name and section titles.

2. Be consistent with your CV layout

Choose a standard one-inch margin for all sides of your CV.

Keep your headings consistent by using bold text, but don’t overuse italics or underlining.

Use a single date format throughout your CV, such as “11-2018” or “November 2018”.

3. Don’t cram your CV with gimmicky graphics

To make your CV more effective, it’s important to remember that simplicity is key.

Leave enough white space so that it’s easy to read and recruiters have some space to review the information you provide.

Avoid overloading your CV with graphics or too many images, as it might make it difficult to read when printed in black ink on white paper.

4. Get photos off of your CV

Unless the job advertisement explicitly requests for a photograph, avoid including one.

However, if it is required, ensure that the picture you use looks professional, without being too rigid like an identification photo.

5. Make your CV brief and relevant

Don’t make the mistake of including an excessive amount of personal information in your CV.

Some candidates are still following outdated practices and think they need to provide a detailed account of their personal lives on their CVs.

To avoid this, focus on providing relevant and concise information that highlights your skills and qualifications.

Pro Tip: To ensure that the layout of your CV remains intact, save it in PDF format after you’ve finished writing it. However, it’s important to carefully read the job description because some employers may not accept a PDF CV. In the event that this holds true, kindly submit your curriculum vitae in the format of Word instead.

2. Master the Art of Properly Adding Your Contact Details

When filling out your CV, make sure to include following essential information

  • Full name
  • Professional title such as (Engineer, Graphic Designer etc)
  • Email address (It must be your regular email that you often use)
  • Telephone number (It must be working 24/7)
  • LinkedIn profile (Professional)
  • Personal address

Recruiters often use contact information to research candidates online.

Ensure that your social media profiles are professional and match the information on your CV and LinkedIn profile.

Failure to keep a professional presence online could result in the loss of job opportunities.


3. Kick off your CV with a punchy Personal Profile

To ensure that your CV grabs the attention of employers, it’s important to do more than simply list your contact details, work experience, and education.

Consider including a personal profile statement at the beginning of your CV to stand out from the crowd.

This should be a short paragraph, no more than 100 words, that explains why you’re the ideal candidate for the job.

You can choose between a CV objective, which focuses on your skills and how you would fit in with the company, and a CV summary, which highlights your career achievements and progress.

If you have limited work experience, a CV objective is a good option, while a CV summary is ideal for experienced professionals with ample field expertise.

4. Highlight Your Professional Accomplishments and Impactful Experience

Your CV’s work experience section is critical since it’s the one that recruiters will give the most attention.

Simply listing your previous positions, dates of employment, and duties will not suffice to land your dream job.

Recruiters are interested in your job performance and how you can contribute to their company.

Elevate the impact of your work experience section by highlighting quantifiable and relevant achievements instead of merely enumerating responsibilities.

Use dynamic verbs like “created,” “analyzed,” and “implemented” instead of weak expressions like “responsible for.”

Tailor your curriculum vitae to the job posting by carefully examining the job requirements and incorporating applicable duties you’ve previously undertaken, regardless of whether they were not your primary obligations.

5. Craft an Optimal Education Section for Your CV

Including education in your resume is typically simple.

When detailing your educational background, focus solely on your post-secondary achievements, and refrain from mentioning high school unless it constitutes your highest level of educational attainment.

List the graduation year, degree, institution name, and any applicable honors.

Pro Tip: You have the option of including your honors, but it’s not necessary. Only add them if they will benefit you, and make sure they are at a high level. For undergraduate degrees, honors of 2:1 or higher are recommended, while for postgraduate degrees, “merit” or “distinction” is preferred. It’s important to consider whether your honors will have a positive or negative impact on your application.

6. Match job Requirements with your Skills

Skills are a crucial part of your CV. However, listing too many skills can make your CV appear cluttered.

Relevance is key when selecting skills for your job application. Customize your CV to match the job requirements.

If you find any matching skills, add them to your CV’s skills section. Balance your skillset with a blend of hard and soft abilities.

It’s also worth noting that not all skills need to be technical or job-specific; other relevant skills, such as leadership and communication, can be valuable additions to your CV.

Pro Tip: Include a brief explanation of your skill level when listing them on your CV. This could include terms such as “Excellent,” “Advanced,” or “Basic” to showcase your proficiency.

7. Elevate your CV with extra sections that Impress Recruiters

Acknowledge that people tend to lie about themselves, especially on their CVs.

Job seekers often exaggerate their accomplishments and abilities

Recruiters are trained to spot liars, so lying is not advisable.

To show your value as a candidate and avoid being perceived as a liar, include an additional section in your CV.

Include industry awards, certifications, publications, affiliations, training, and other relevant achievements in the additional section.

A well-crafted additional section can differentiate you from other candidates with similar backgrounds and increase your chances of getting hired.

8. Elevate your Job Application with a Cover Letter

Do you think stalking your potential employer is terrible career advice?

Well, skipping the cover letter is just as bad.

According to HR statistics, 45 out of 100 recruiters won’t even consider your CV if there is no cover letter.

While some recruiters may think a cover letter is unnecessary, it is the hiring manager who ultimately decides if you’re getting the job.

Writing a great cover letter may seem daunting, but it’s actually easier than most people think.

Final Words

To stand out in the fast-paced and competitive job market, you need to take extra steps to create an impressive CV.

Begin by including a personal profile, summarizing why you’re the ideal candidate for the job.

Instead of simply listing your previous duties, focus on your accomplishments and achievements in your work experience section.

Boost your worth by showcasing your major accomplishments like certifications, accolades, publications, and participation in training or conferences through a dedicated section.

Be sure to include a well-written cover letter, as it can significantly increase your chances of getting hired.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be ready for those interview invitations!


What is a CV?

A CV is a document that outlines a person’s work experience, education, skills, and achievements.

How to write a good CV for a job step by step?

To write a good CV, you should start with a personal profile, focus on achievements rather than duties, showcase your skills and certifications, and attach a cover letter to your job application.

How should a perfect CV look in 2023?

A perfect CV should be tailored to the job description, highlight your most relevant skills and experiences, use a clean and modern design, and be easy to read.

How to start writing a simple Curriculum Vitae?

To start writing a simple Curriculum Vitae, begin by outlining your work experience, education, skills, and achievements in a clear and organized manner.

How to write a CV for my first job if I have no experience?

To write a CV for your first job with no experience, focus on your education, skills, volunteer work, and any relevant coursework or projects.

What is the best CV format?

The best CV format depends on the job and industry, but generally, a chronological or hybrid format is preferred.

What are the 7 basic steps to writing a CV?

The 7 basic steps to writing a CV include: choosing the right CV format, starting with a personal profile, highlighting your achievements, showcasing your skills and certifications, including relevant work experience, listing your education, and attaching a cover letter.

What is a full CV?

A full CV is a comprehensive document that includes detailed information on a person’s work experience, education, skills, achievements, publications, and more.

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