What is a CV?

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When it comes to job hunting, your CV is paramount. Get it right, and you’ll have an interview in no time; get it wrong, and you’ll face rejection after rejection. Every CV is different — you want to show why you’re unique, of course — but all follow a similar structure. This guide will show you how to write a great CV.

What is a CV?

Your CV, short for curriculum vitae, is a personal marketing tool used to sell yourself to prospective employers. It should tell them about you, your professional history, and your skills; ultimately, it should show why you’re the best candidate for the job.

The basic CV format

There are particular sections that employers expect to see on your CV regardless of industry or job role, so we recommend using the following structure:

  • Contact details
  • Personal statement
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Achievements
  • Hobbies and interests
  • References

Contact details

The first part of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should contain your contact details. This is the very basic stuff: your name, physical address, email address, and phone number, although you might choose to include your LinkedIn URL, too. It’s not necessary to include personal details such as your date of birth, marital status, or religion.

Not sure if your LinkedIn profile is ready to be included in your CV? Check out our guide to see if it’s up to scratch.

Personal statement

Your personal statement is one of the most important aspects of your CV. It’s where you give an overview of who you are and inject a touch of personality. You should tailor it to every job you apply for, highlighting specific qualities that match you to the role. Aim to keep your personal statement short and sweet, and no longer than a few sentences.

To make the most of this section, you should try to address the following:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you offer the company?
  • What are your career goals?

Experience and employment history

This section gives you a chance to outline your previous jobs, internships, and work experience. Your experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. You should state your job title and the dates you worked, followed by your responsibilities. It helps to choose the duties most relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it’s a long list.

You can experiment with the format, but in this section, bullet points are useful for clarity and highlighting key skills.

Below is a very basic example, but you should take this chance to showcase your strongest areas and your achievements in previous positions.

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Education

Like the Experience section, your education should be listed in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institutions and the dates you were there, followed by the grades you achieved. If you have a lot of qualifications, there’s no need to list them all; just choose the most relevant. If you have a degree, you could list a few of the most relevant modules you took.

Bullet points are useful in this section, too. For example:

cvtext2 -95325352

Achievements

You might look at this section and think you have no achievements, but achievements don’t have to be formal awards. If you’ve done anything you’re particularly proud of, like completing a project or receiving a promotion, you can and should include it.

It’s only going to help the recruiter build a picture of you and your successes, so don’t worry about what qualifies as an achievement — if you’re proud of it, let them know.

Hobbies and interests

You don’t need to state your hobbies and interests on your CV, but they help recruiters know more about your personality. If you have any interesting hobbies that make you shine, or if your hobbies relate to the industry you’re going into, you can use this section to build a bigger picture of you as a person.

If you’re running low on space, don’t worry too much; just remember that, if worded well, this section could really make you stand out.

References

Your referees should be your previous employers or your educational tutors, but there’s no need to list all their details in this section. A person’s name, physical address, contact number, and email address are common things to include. Something like the following is fine:

Taufeeq Ahmad (Head of Sales)

Sales Company LTD

23 Multan Road

LAHORE

Or, you can save space by simply stating:

References available upon request.

Recruiters can then ask for more information if and when they need it.

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