How to write a CV – the essentials

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There is no right or wrong when it comes to your CV. Every HR person looks at things that are important for him/her and there is no standard that is set in stone. Nevertheless, there is information that you should consider including in your CV and things that are better to be avoided. Let’s start with what should be definitely included.

Contact information

Name: Put your full name on your CV, because it will be used to set up the work contract in case the candidate gets selected for the job.

Address: Write down the address where you actually live at this moment and where you can receive mail.

Email address: You have to include e-mail. It is important for the recruiters if they have further questions to ask.

Phone number: Use the one where you can be reached, a mobile phone number is the best.

Work experience

When it comes to your work experience provide a complete list and detailed information.

1) Write down the dates from when to when you worked in the company

2) Your title/position

3) Name of the company

4) List the tasks/responsibilities that you have been assigned during that time. Here you can be very specific and you should definitely be honest about it.

Avoid including things that you eventually saw during that time but never worked with. You will save a lot of time for both you and the recruiter if you are honest.

Write down all the stages of your career. The recruiters will get suspicious if they find unexplained gaps when reading your CV. As a consequence, they will either reject you because others don’t have gaps, or they will ask you about the gaps during the interview. You will lose precious time explaining the gaps instead of explaining why you are suitable for the job.

Education

Here you also need to provide detailed information.

1) Beginning and end dates (month and year)

2) Name of the university

3) The field of your studies

That should be the must have. This is a point where the opinions are divided. Some recruiters don’t even look at the education because they think that if you have enough work experience that is more valuable than your studies. Others look at the education first because it is important factor for the hiring manager.

You can also include additional details, like the topic of your thesis or the average grade that you passed.

Skills

It is important to mention only the skills that you actually have knowledge about. No one will believe you if you have a list of 100 skills and say that you are an expert in nearly everything. Pick a handful of strong skills. Write down only things which you know that you can do, add some more you are currently learning or you are a beginner at, to show that you are still in the process of learning.

Language skills: Write down the skills that you really have. Only mention language skills that might help you in your work environment (for which you know that you have a certain proficiency). You might get tested on them.

Additional points that you can include

Short motivation: Motivation letters are losing more and more importance. In some companies they are no longer required. Still you can add 4-5 lines as a starter of your CV describing what you are good at.

Social media pages: if you have a Linkedin, Xing, Github or any other business page, mention it. The recruiter thinks that you are engaged and motivated if you have several profiles. Especially in the IT environment, put your Github or Bitbucked profiles on it. The hiring manager can have a quick look at it and see if the skills of your projects fit with the skills needed.

References: Ask your colleagues, or previous supervisors to write you a small feedback about your work. If you already have some references, you can put them in your CV. This gives quite a good insight into your previous work.

What you should definitely not do?

Lying in your CV is a big no-no. You will waste your time as well as the recruiter’s time. The truth will come out in the first interview and if the recruiter noticed that you didn’t tell the truth, you will not be considered further.

Selfies: Either use a decent business picture to put on you CV or none at all.

Overall, you CV should be maximum 2 to 3 pages. If you have a long work experience history, just use less details to describe the jobs you had long time ago.