You’ve probably blamed your CV before for not getting a call back from a job you applied to. You’ve probably also researched a bit on Google on how to write a proper CV. Since you’re reading this, how did that go for you so far? Our guess is not too well since you’re here reading this article. Well to be honest with you, we have all been right where you are now. Luckily for us (and now you), we have topped over 400,000 total job applications on our platform which has provided us with an unexpected kind of useful information. What an effective CV looks like.
The CV is decreasingly losing its credibility within recruiting because it simply isn’t a reliable indicator of whether a candidate is suited for a position or not. There’s too much bias on paper to trust a two-minute read into hiring someone – but still, a lot of recruiters especially in startups have nothing better to rely on, because they usually don’t possess HR resources. You know how the lean startup goes…
We, at The Hub, will break down the format of a proper CV and show you how you can take advantage of it to catch a company’s eye. Keep reading to discover the essential questions you should be asking your CV and how to answer them correctly.
The Essential Questions You Need to Ask Your CV
How Can You Be Reached? Update your Contact Information
You might be in a hurry to advertise your work experience before anything else when creating your CV, and that’s understandable. However, before getting down to business, you should first consider that tiny section at the top of any CV template that contains your contact info.
When recruiters or potential employers go over CVs, they also need to know how and where to reach you. If your contact info is missing or has not been updated in a while, they will not be able to get through to you, which means no incoming job opportunities! This is why you should always provide accurate details in this part of the CV.
Wondering how much contact info to share? When putting together the CV that will land you your dream job, there is no such thing as TMI!
Therefore, the contact section on your curriculum vitae should always include the following five essential details, in this particular order:
- Full name (first, middle, and last)
- Full address (street address, city, state, zip code)
- Phone number
- Professional email address (email@example.com)
- LinkedIn or personal website URL
And yes. LinkedIn has become more or less required in today’s recruiting process as a source of information about your profile. Are you worried about how your LinkedIn profile looks or should look? We wrote a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you master your LinkedIn game.
Who Are You? Start Describing Yourself with a Summary
You might not know this yet, but an inadequate or nonexistent opening paragraph is the number one thing that makes your CV shi**y. By its very definition, the CV summary is the very first thing companies notice about you.
The first step in writing a good CV summary is hyping yourself with a few relevant buzzwords. What is the one powerful adjective that best describes your career so far? We’ve compiled a shortlist of examples below, but don’t be afraid to get creative with it:
Now that you’ve caught their eye, it’s time to tell them what you do. Use the keyword that best encapsulates the essence of your profession. A good way to find it is by researching the job market a bit and see what terms companies use for listings.
Who are you? An accomplished content marketing specialist? A talented senior graphic designer? An experienced corporate attorney? The list can go on and on. Find your niche and stick to it.
Finally, you need to figure out what your schtick is. Complete your CV summary with gaugeable accomplishments and integrate quantifiable metrics wherever possible. Oh, and try to keep it all under 50 words. The last thing you want to do is bore everyone so early on. You want to be concrete and decisive from the get-go.
Where Did You Go to School? Elaborate on Your Studies
Regardless of how high on the academic ladder you’ve managed to climb, your CV needs to reflect that. However, unless you went to a fancy institute for gifted children up in France when you were a pre-teen, no one wants to read about your middle school experience.
Our best piece of advice when it comes to listing your education in a curriculum vitae is to limit the list to higher education accolades only and focus on the most relevant ones. This means a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate only.
While it is hard to generalize here, we can recommend across the board to keep this section under 30 words. In this particular case, less truly is more. Here are the vital details you should mention:
- School name
- School location
- Field of study
- Years attended
- Degree (if applicable)
What Have You Accomplished? Showcase Your Success
It’s time to discuss your employment. When listing past jobs, it is essential to mention the following aspects of your previous experience in the workforce:
- Specific job title
- Company name
- Company location
- Employment dates
- Brief job description
However, including these details only will leave your CV feeling a little dry to the eye. Remember the quantifiable metrics we talked about in the CV summary portion of this article? Now’s your chance to elaborate on them and stand out!
Don’t think of your previous jobs in terms of just responsibilities, but rather focus on what you accomplished while working there. How much revenue did you generate through sales? What was the size of the budget you handled? How many people did you train or manage? Providing hard numbers and data to reflect your success is the surest way to catch a recruiter’s eye. It works like a charm in certifying your competencies and makes you stand out from the rest as a proven professional with a legit track record that can support your recruiter’s goals.
Any Personal Projects? Show That You Have Initiative
A CV is more than a testimony of the fact that you went to school for a number of years and then got some jobs. Ideally, yours should also reflect the things you are passionate about. Thus, if you’ve got any personal projects to put on display, why not take advantage of the value they can add? This is the part where you truly get the chance to separate yourself from the competition and become “unique” to the viewer’s eyes.
As a general rule, we advise you to list projects directly related to the industry you want a career in. This will show employers that you are interested in pursuing a particular line of work in your spare time as well. Examples of creative side projects that will boost the quality of your CV include, but are not limited to:
- Personal blogs
- YouTube videos
- Art portfolios
However, presenting other types of projects that you have been involved in over time can also boost your status among candidates. For example, community or charity actions such as volunteer work will always resonate with employers, regardless of their field. By emphasizing on this you will paint a more personal portrait of yourself that will increase your chances of being remembered because you have shown effort and determination as a professional. It almost translates into the x-factor that most employers seek – a proactive role player that does not necessarily need to be told how to do their job day in and day out.
What Skills Do You Have? Let Your Career Speak for Itself
Regardless of the niche you want to work in, at the end of the day, it all boils down to what specific skills you have. The essential aspect to keep in mind at this point is that you should always correlate your professional aptitudes with your career.
What skills did you develop within a certain position? How did these skills influence your accomplishments later on? What are your hard skills, and what are your soft skills? Every single facet of this matter is relevant, so don’t leave anything out.
And speaking of hard skills and soft skills, don’t forget to differentiate between them properly when putting together your CV. Remember, hard skills are teachable and quantified, while soft skills are interpersonal and depend on various factors.
Nonetheless, it’s essential to show that you master both. Your foreign language proficiency, advertising certificate, or typing speed won’t have much value if you can’t manage your time properly or function well in a team – you want to be a culture fit as much as a role fit, remember this nugget!
How to Get Creative with Your CV
Now that you’ve answered the six essential questions of CV building, it’s time to take a step back and judge it. Even after all the effort you’ve put in, it might still be a little shi**y. To make it as good as it can be, ask yourself this: did I get creative enough with it?
This is the seventh and perhaps most vital question to ask when building a CV. Even if your answer is yes, you might want to consider that you didn’t do your best just yet.
Remember, the amount of effort you put into your CV is going to be noticeable. Here is what you can do to achieve a standout CV:
- Don’t copy your CV over and over again when applying for multiple jobs. It is easy to notice people… Instead, think about how you can design your CV to fit the company and role – yes this takes time which most people are not willing to invest, but here’s your number one opportunity to make an impression.
- Always use the job posting as a guide, as it spells out word for word what the employer is looking for. Browse it for relevant keywords and include them in your CV.
- Let your personality shine through and pepper in some humor too. In doing so, you will be able to showcase a personal side of yourself, which isn’t too often expressed in the black on white experience of reading a CV.
- Experiment with different CV formats. Have you ever tried building your own personal website? It can be a nice way to showcase your professional portfolio in a more visual way. Having an online CV or resumé definitely allows you to be creative with it. Just keep in mind that not all employers accept this kind of format.
Applying these techniques will mean more work, but it will also mean better chances of landing that dream job. So, what are you waiting for? In our opinion, it’s totally worth it.