With the advent of AI-based CV scanning systems, composing a compelling informative CV has become more challenging than ever. AI in HR systems takes into account every line of information on your CV about your work history, experience, and qualifications. Your CV is then systematically matched to the job requirements, and it is given an accuracy score.
On average, each corporate job advertisement attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, only 4 to 6 will be contacted for an interview, and only one will be hired. (Glassdoor). Crafting a concise, professional CV is vital for you to get a job offer.
If you were to Google, ‘the best CV writing service’, or ‘best resume builder’, there will be a thousand results available to look through, and analyse. This blog post provides you with the most up to date, and essential information needed to write your first, or graduate student CV.
CV vs RESUME
The key differences between a CV (curriculum vitae) and a resume is primarily regional: in the UK (and Europe), any non-academic job application is labelled a CV, whereas the equivalent in the US is titled a resume. In essence this is a brief document, containing all relevant and key work experience and skills, used when making job applications.
A CV in the US is specifically referring to a document used for academic applications (such as in science, academia, and research), and the information provided is much more detailed and extensive as a result.
CONTENT is KING
Regardless of whether you are calling it a CV or a resume, they both require the same level of preparation, research, and attention to language. The content of a CV is the most important aspect of it, presentation and formats are secondary; you must proof-read your CV thoroughly, check for any mistakes in spelling, grammar, and delete vague, unnecessary statements. Showcasing your skills and experience and calling out your achievements is what will make your CV stand out, at the end of each bullet point on your CV say to yourself – so what?
- Always include the impact of your work by where possible including percentage increase or decreases. For example showing an in increase in sales, or a percentage decrease, showing how you created efficiencies in the business.
- Highlight the size, scale and scope of your role, budgetary and line management responsibilities.
- If you work at a strategic level link the impact of your strategies on the success of the business.
- Outline line management responsibilities.
- Project Management skills – planing, organising, scheduling work, completing on time and to budget.
- Stakeholder engagement – dealing with internal and external stakeholders, developing new relationships.
TYPES OF CV and RESUME FORMATS
There are many types of CV formats that you can utilise; which one you select will depend on the location, and industry of your prospective job. A few CV formats are:
- Chronological CV: this follows a clear chronological time-line of work experience and skills, presented under each sub-heading; the most recent details are presented first, with subsequent entries becoming less recent in order; begin with name and contact details at the top.
Advantages: this CV adapts well to showing an expanded, continuous work experience; best if there are no major time gaps in your history, and you have had relevant experience in one area, or industry consistently.
- Skills-based CV: this follows a skills-based approach of presenting your accumulated ability from experience and work history; personal qualities and competencies are emphasised as opposed to continuous engagement with a single type of work experience. As with a Chronological CV- name and contact details are at the top.
Advantages: this is best-suited to those CVs that cater to career-shifting applications outside of your degree study, or previous work; this type of presentation advocates your ability and experience in a more holistic manner.
- Technical CV: this format follows a technical skills-based approach for IT or similar industry fields that require key technical ability (e.g. programming languages, etc.); your skills are placed first, followed by experiences, and academics below.
Advantages: Employers instantly understand your ability regarding practical skills and knowledge required for the job.
- Creative Industries CV: The format and requirements for this type of CV are not as strict as the above three (i.e. fonts, italics can be utilised more creatively); the presentation can be flexible, however it must remain within professional boundaries and standards.
Advantages: Allows employers to witness your creative ability and skill through the formatting and presentation of your CV.
CV WRITING 101:
- Name, contact details, and relevant social media channels
- Photograph (if custom and practice in your region)
- Personal statement (except for Europass CVs)
- Work Experience/Voluntary Experience/Internships
- Key Skills/Competencies
- Hobbies (Optional)
- Do not Include:
- Irrelevant personal details (marital status, no of children etc.);
- False information, don’t make up “facts” to talk up your CV, you will get caught out and its illegal!
- KEY CONSIDERATIONS:
- Contact Details:
Your email address should not be for a personal email account, it should be a standard, professional ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Do not include your full house address; the way employers contact candidates has changed in the 21st century- email is preferred, and they rarely need your full address at the initial stage (unless the job requires local residence, etc.); incidentally, privacy security breaches are more serious if your address is fully visible on the CV.
It is best practice to only include the key facts of your location: state/province, city, and zip / postal code should be sufficient.
- Social Media Channels:
Do an audit of your social media accounts, almost 90% of managers research candidates on social media, and 79% reject applications due to inappropriate social media activity.
You may include professional social media accounts, such as LinkedIn, or even Twitter (if you are posting relevant industry information mainly on it).
- Personal Statement:
As in all parts of your CV, language here is key. How to tailor a CV personal statement depends upon the company, and the job role. Ideally, you should present yourself in a way that allows the recruiter to immediately see you would be a good fit for the company culture, and the vacant position.
- Key Skills:
As mentioned above, key skills can be technical abilities (such as knowledge of specific IT systems, coding languages or financial accounting skills); but they may also be more generic and relevant, such as ‘problem-solving, critical-thinking, and teamwork’. You want to include skills that match the job requirements, but also softer skills (like collaboration), that are also valued by the company.
You should include full details of your education history (no abbreviations); if applying for a job in a different country, you should also reference their metrics of grading so that your academic-level is immediately understood. Your Education History should begin with the most recent qualification first.
- Photographs: (See CV -Global Look below for more information)
Check regional differences in including photographs!
In summary: UK/US: not the norm do not include one;
Europe/MENA regions: professional photographs are included in some countries.
- Work Experience:
Work experience should be explained in a formulaic X-Y-Z method (somewhat similar to the STAR method applied during interviews). You should reference an achievement/accomplishment X, that was measured by Y, by doing method Z. For example: ‘Won the Debate Club 2021 Award for best debate out of 35 university teams, through applying rigorous logical argument and persuasive detail.’ Increased sales by 78% by opening new markets in the China.’ The more you advance in your career, the more specific these examples will become.
Simply state these are ‘available on request’; this gives you time to decide who would be best as a referee (University tutor vs Internship supervisor?), and allows you enough notice to approach them when needed.
CV TEMPLATES AND CV BUILDERS:
There are many free CV builders available online:
They allow you to create a well formatted PDF document, but remember style does not win over substance. Recruiters are going to evaluate your suitably for the role based on your skills not on how your CV looks.
Now that we have looked at CV content and formats, an extra layer of complexity in understanding how to build the perfect CV is to first research the particular region in which you are looking for jobs.
The key points for four main regions are:
- UK CVs can be stylistically a little tricky, photographs are not the norm or expected, and should never be included on your CV, you need to look into the detail of which industry for which you are applying. (See Types of CV Formats above for further info).
- Direct, to-the-point information regarding experiences is valued; the layout should be factual from the start with examples evidencing your skills (mirror and match keywords included in job description). Personal statements should be included; cover letters are the usually asked for in a number of sectors where you can expand the same information, one page CV’s are the norm for entry level roles.
- US resumes follow UK CV formats quite closely; the Chronological CV format is usually preferred, photographs are disliked. The main distinction amounts to language used in personal statements and those that describe key skills/competencies. What may be seen as boasting to a UK employer, might be a perfectly acceptable description to a US employer. Personal statements are included.
- A Europass CV does suggest photographs, however see regional variations above. Personal statements are not included, and work experience history is more expansive to compensate as a result. Cover letters are also usually required and you may expand on information that might have otherwise been present in a personal statement. Contact details are not required to be placed at the top, and it is more flexible in terms of presentation. For the Academic section, you must also list the equivalent European Qualifications Framework levels.
MENA (Middle East and North Africa):
- The most flexible CV to write is that for the MENA region; there are no hard and fast rules, except for the most obvious one: include relevant information about your competency for the job; the best resume and CV formats all still remain within the general framework of a professional outlook. You can be more creative with MENA CVs, they must catch the attention of the recruiter, professional photographs are preferred, and personal statements should be factual, short and succinct.
How we can help?
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