How to write the perfect CV
When you’re in the job market – whether you’re looking for your first job, a change in career or just a fresh start, your most powerful tool is your CV.
A well-crafted CV will intrigue recruiters, showcase your talents and demonstrate what value you can add. You might think the purpose of a CV is to land you a job, but in reality, it’s a lot simpler than that.
A CV should interest the recruiter enough to invite you to an interview. It’s then that you work on your interview skills and then on landing the job.
In this blog, we’re going to give the tools and tips to write a CV that will land you an interview.
Resume vs CV? What is the difference?
You might have heard ‘resume’ and ‘CV’ being used interchangeably, and yes they are very similar. However, a resume is a condensed, to-the-point document that is used to apply to a specific job or role.
A CV on the other hand is a more comprehensive version that includes all work history and education. Each of these documents serves a purpose in the job application process, but be aware of what the company wants to see, and provide them with the correct format.
CV formatting: What is the best layout for your CV?
The right CV could be the difference between hearing back from recruiters and getting a job or not getting it. The layout and order in which you present information is really important. There re 3 common types of layouts that have become the most widely accepted. Lets take a look:
The three most common CV layouts:
You’ll see this format mentioned a few times throughout this article, as it’s the most common and practical format. It lists your experience from most recent to earliest or visa versa. This format helps tell the story of your professional career and shows how you have developed and levelled up over time.
2. Functional or Skills based resume
This format champions your skills over work experience. In this one, you might categorise experience by areas of strengths. This could be a good option for someone who perhaps doesn’t have much experience, or who has been in one or two roles throughout their career.
It also might be a good option for someone who doesn’t have the direct experience of the role to which they’re applying. This format helps you highlight hard and soft skills that could be applied to the role. For example, if you’re applying to be a restaurant manager, but have never worked as one, your CV might look something like this:
- Over 10 years of experience in the service industry as a barista, waiter and host.
- Extensive knowledge of restaurant operations, customer service and stock take.
- Experience managing a team of 5 baristas and cashiers.
- Ensuring that the bar and deli are stocked and organised at all times.
3. Combination or hybrid resume
As you probably already guessed, this one’s a combination of the other two formats.
In this format you can include a section on both skills and experience, highlighting only your key roles and championing skills and successes. This format is better for people with lots of experience or applying for senior roles.
Let’s break down each important section in your CV and what should be included:
The personal details and contact section
Now that you have an idea of what format to use, you’re ready to start populating it. The first thing you want to consider is your personal details and contact section. This should give the reader a snapshot of who you are and how to get in touch with you. Include information like your name, age, address or city, phone number, email address and LinkedIn page.
Your personal statement or objective
This is a short paragraph at the beginning of your CV or resume to give the reader a summary of your experience. It should include your current role, a few top skills and why you are applying for the job. For example:
“I am a qualified website developer with 8 years of experience and a flair for the creative. I am currently working at Great Big Company as their lead UX designer. I am proficient in Python and have led my team to award-winning success. I am interested in the role of Senior UX Designer at Your Company as my attention to detail and bold solutions would be the perfect fit for your industry-leading culture and client base.”
How to list your work experience on your CV
The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a resume is to include only the most relevant experience. Once you’ve done this it’s best to lay it out in chronological or reverse chronological order. If you think your most recent work experience is most relevant and impressive, consider listing your experience from most recent to earliest.
Your education and qualifications
Now it’s time to list your education and qualifications. The same as above applies -you can follow a chronological, or reverse chronological order. However, when listing your education, you can also group your qualifications into High School, tertiary education (college or university) and further education.
Further education would include any courses you’ve done throughout your career, any certificates you may have earned or professional upskilling. This list can get quite extensive for some, so try to keep it to the most relevant pieces.
Now that we have the main sections of your CV covered let’s start to look at smaller details that take your CV from good to great.
What skills should you include in your CV?
When it comes to including skills in your CV or resume you can do this in a number of places:
- Your cover letter
- Within the job descriptions
- Within a dedicated skills section
Whatever you do make sure to identify 5 – 10 of your strongest skills that are most relevant to the job description. If you’re applying for a remote job, being accountable and communicative are more important than being able to collaborate in the office. You might want to become familiar with some of the most popular online collaboration tools for the work space as well.
Hard skills vs soft skills – What to include on your CV?
When identifying skills to include in your CV, make sure to include both hard and soft skills.
Soft skills are personal attributes, whereas hard skills are technical or learned skills. Having a combination is a good recipe for success. When writing your cover letter try to demonstrate how you have used soft skills in the past, for instance, to overcome a challenge.
In the skills section of your CV try to list around 5 soft skills and 5 hard skills.
How to use keywords in your CV
Something applicants are often not aware of is the screening software many companies use. The idea of these is to filter applications via a website or app and send only the most relevant to the hiring team or manager. This kind of software is becoming more popular in the recruitment process to try to help hiring teams save time and improve efficiencies.
The problem is that many applicants are not aware of these programs, and as such don’t know how to craft their CV to successfully make it through the filters. The very first thing to remember is to never ever be dishonest on your CV or Resume. This is a sure-fire way to get cut very quickly. Application questions, projects and interviews are all designed to assess your competencies and interviewers can quickly pick up on falsities.
And even if they don’t and you do get the job, it’s only a matter of time before you get caught out. So, always be honest.
Keywords for AI
Now, there are some ways to use keywords in your CV to help the AI or smart algorithms to understand your experience and education. First, always read the job description carefully, and use similar words and phrases to describe your experience if applicable.
Next, use the exact job title in your CV. For example, if you’re applying to be a front-of-house manager, don’t use ‘restaurant supervisor’ as your title.
And lastly, identify the key skills needed for the job and sprinkle them throughout your cover letter and CV. Don’t over-do it however as this might come off as spamming, and detract from your writing.
Killer CV formatting tips from recruiting agents
Considering Nomad Now is an online recruiting platform we have some friends in talent acquisition who could help us out with tips and tricks to make your CV stand out.
How long should your CV be?
As a CV is a comprehensive view of all your education and work experiences, it will vary in length depending on your history. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to bore your reader so try to keep each position to between 2 and 4 points.
Your resume however should be no longer than two pages. Include only relevant work history, and zoom in on any successes and measurable results rather than listing your day-to-day tasks.
What font should you choose on a CV?
It doesn’t really matter what font you use, as long as it is professional and legible. Stay away from frilly or cursive fonts as these are harder to read. You want all your information to be easily accessible as possible and consumed in the shortest amount of time possible. If in doubt, stick to classics like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri.
Try to use a different font for headings and body text, so that your titles jump out. The eye always looks for informational signposts, so use your fonts to indicate these to your reader. Add a bit of colour as well to get some attention.
How should you structure your work experience?
When listing each position you have held, keep to the same formula. Something like the below is a good format to follow:
Year | Company | Location
2019 – 2021 | Big Red Advertising Company | Durban
How should you save and send your CV?
This largely depends on how the job is requesting you send it. If they’re asking for a Google Doc, or Microsoft Word file, then make sure to send it in that format. The most common format is PDF.
If in doubt send it in a PDF as this cannot be edited or changed. If you do send it in a Google Doc, make sure to turn off editing access and set it to ‘View Only’.
Should you include a photo of yourself? Hint – it depends
It’s becoming common practice these days to include an image of yourself on your application. However many companies prefer that you don’t as part of their inclusivity and diversity policies. Blind reviews of applicants help reduce bias and discrimination in the hiring process and is becoming more common practice across many organisations. But it will depend on the company, so make sure to read the application carefully as often this is stipulated. If it is not, then you can decide to include one or not.
Find out what the industry standard is for the job you are applying for and decide based on that. Some industries such as yachting require you to have a photo however with most office jobs it is really not needed.
If you do include a photo, make sure the image is a high-quality headshot. Avoid full body pictures, and make sure you are facing the camera fully, not side on or profile – ie no selfies. The clothes and setting should be professional – avoid casual or personal photos. As much as it might show your adventurous side, including a photo of you skydiving is not appropriate for your CV. Also, try to avoid overt filters and editing – rather try to find some good, warm lighting that reduces shadows on your face – and don’t forget to smile!
Finally – The importance of proofreading
Once you’ve finished writing your CV comes one of the most crucial steps: proofreading and editing.
Read your cover letter and CV out loud to yourself as this will help you catch any grammatical errors or clumsy sentences. Next, make sure to use a spell-check or grammar check tool like Grammarly. Typos and spelling errors on a CV are a big red flag to employers, and can easily land your CV in the trash pile.
Example of a great CV template
credit to: https://jofibo.com/blog/cv-format
Now that you know how to write a CV, you can get to work! If CV writing still doesn’t sound like your thing, using an online job marketplace like Nomad Now could be the answer you’re looking for. With our smart algorithms, you only fill out your profile once to get matched with suitable job openings as they get posted.
You can also search our exciting new “Jobs” tab where you will view Perm and Flexi jobs, ranked by relevance to you. Save time and apply directly to a role, in just one click!
Sign-up today at Nomadnow.co and get to work, your way.