What is a CV?

Curriculum Vitae: an outline of a person's educational and professional history, usually prepared for job applications, in other words; the course of one's life. Another name for a CV is a résumé.

A CV is the most flexible and convenient way to submit applications. It conveys your personal details in a way that presents you in the best possible light. A CV is a marketing document in which you are marketing for yourself! You need to "sell" your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to employers.

There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common things you should cover. These include: personal and contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job you're applying for; personal interests, achievements or hobbies; and a few references.


Choose the Right Resume Format

There are several basic types of resumes used to apply for job openings. Depending on your personal circumstances, take the time to customize your resume - it's well worth the effort.


No fancy design details

Do not use a coloured background, fancy fonts or images on your resume.


Choose a basic font

When writing a CV it's important to use a basic font that is easy to read, not too small, no too big and not too colourful.

  • Use a logical format and wide margins, clean type and clear headings
  • Selectively apply bold and italic typeface that help guide the reader's eye
  • Use bullets to call attention to important points  


Tailor the CV to the role

When you've established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, create a CV specifically for that role. Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to that role so don't hope that a general CV will work because it won't.

Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant.


Understand the job description

The clues are in the job application, so read the details from start to finish. Fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you already have. For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there's nothing stopping you from using any retail work you've undertaken.


Keep your CV updated

It's crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that are missing. For example, if you've just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure they're on there – potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.

Generally, a resume gets scanned for 25 seconds. Scanning is more difficult if it is hard to read or poorly organized.


Include all your contact information

It's important to include all your contact information on your CV so employers can easily get in touch with you. Include your full name, street address, city, home phone number, cell phone number, and email address.


Add a profile or objective

If you include an objective on your CV, it's important to tailor it to match the job you are applying for. The more specific you are better chance you have of being considered for the job you are interested in.


Prioritize content

It's important to prioritize the content of your CV, so that the most important and relevant experience is listed first, with key accomplishments listed at the top of each position.


Review CV Examples

Before you start working on writing or updating your CV, review some examples that fit a variety of employment situations. Then select a style and format that best highlights your strengths and achievements.


Use a template

Use a CV template as a starting point for creating your own. Add your information to the template, then tweak and edit it to personalize it so that it highlights your skills and abilities.


Use effective titles

Like it or not, employers will usually make a judgment about your CV in 5 seconds. In this time frame the most important aspect will be the titles on your CV, so make sure they grab the reader's attention. Try to be as descriptive as possible, giving the employer a good idea about the nature of your past work experiences.


Proofread it twice

It would be difficult to emphasise the importance of proofreading your resume. One small typo and your chances of getting hired could slip. Proofreading it once is not enough, so do it twice, three times or as many as necessary.


  • Focus on what you did in the job, NOT what your job was; there's a difference.
  • Include a one or two top line job description first, then list your accomplishments.
  • For each point ask yourself, what was the benefit of having done what I did?
  • Accomplishments should be unique to you, not just a list of what someone else did.
  • Avoid using the generic descriptions of the jobs you originally applied for or held.


Achievements instead of responsibilities