If you were a CV

You are great in person. You can firmly shake any hand. Your graceful smile can light up any room. You can laugh appropriately and clear up any tension. You speak clearly and are capable of anything. If you were your own professional CV, you would have any job you wanted.

There is only one problem.

Most of the time you, in person, is not what a recruiter is interacting with. Sometimes the only thing that can speak for you, before you get to speak for yourself in an interview, is a CV.

So, how can you ensure that your CV represents the best version of you? We can point you in the right direction with the following tips to create your professional CV.

What makes a good CV structure?

Cover the basics make sure you have all of the following in your CV:

  1. Personal and contact information. (Make sure contact number and email are up to date)
  2. Education. (Create some digital copies of certificates and transcripts just in case)
  3. Qualifications.
  4. Work history and experience.
  5. Relevant skills for the job you are applying for.
  6. Interests
  7. Achievements
  8. Hobbies
  9. References

Top tip:
To get the most up to date structure, go to your LinkedIn profile and see what fields LinkedIn asks for. This is a good indicator of what recruiters are looking for.


Cover the basics for your structure


What about a professional description or cover letter?

In some cases, such as when applying via LinkedIn, a cover letter is not required. However, there is space for a description in your LinkedIn profile. The description (or cover letter) is an opportunity for you to stand out. As a general rule of thumb, include at least a brief description.

This can be a summary of, who you are now, what got you to where you are, and where are you headed.

Top tip:
Keep it short, there is still a lot of CV to get through.


What should my CV look like?

You are likely one of many CVs on the recruiter desk. So before you add an array of colours and fancy graphics to your CV, ask yourself these questions:

If I was looking at 100 CVs, what would make me put a CV in the interview stack?
What would make me put a CV in the reject stack?

Check your CV and ask yourself what you can change and keep to get in the good stack.

Top tip:

  • Clear and structured presentation – avoid clutter and make it easy to read.
  • The first half of the page is where the recruiter will look – make it work for you

How long should my CV be?

You don’t need more than 2 pages, unless specified in the job listing. Most recruiters, sorting through many applications, may prefer shorter CVs. (They may have also made their decision after the first page).

Top tip:
Make it easy for the recruiter to get the information required. Do not burry this deep in unnecessary information.


Can I use the same CV for many roles?

If you want to better your chances of getting to the interview stage then design your CV for a particular role.

But, you don’t have to create a CV from scratch each time. Create a generic CV, following a good structure. Then, before you send it, ensure it aligns to the role you are applying for.

Top tip:
Remember to match your designed CV to the job description.


Why should I read the job description carefully?

Recruiters tell you what they are looking for, it is in the job description.

Highlight the requirements that you match. Take note of requirements you don’t match. Where you don’t match ask yourself if there are any skills or experience you can compensate with.

Make sure you cover all those notes in your CV.

Top tip:
For the requirements you do not match, compensate those with any related experience.

For example:
You do not manage people in your current role. The new role requires leadership or management experience. Then highlight your experience as the captain of your varsity sports team. (Don’t forget about experience from clubs or societies.)


What should I write about work experience?

Don’t only state that you were a graphic designer at a corporate. State the kind of projects you worked on. Describe the process from start (brief) to finish (delivery). Tell them what you enjoyed and the work you are most proud of. (Don’t forget to keep it short and to the point)

Give the recruiter an idea of the skills, experience and lessons you have gained.

Top tip:
If you have ever had a performance review, take a look back and use what your colleagues said about your work.

work experience

What makes good experience


What makes a skill?

There are some skills you have that few applicants have. Make sure to mention those skills that make you stand out from the stack. This could be knowing how to use software like WordPress and speaking a foreign language.

Skills gained from playing sport, for example, could be working in a team or leadership skills.

Top tip:
Make sure to note how proficient you are at the skills. Use a measure such as years of experience to illustrate this. This will show whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Also don’t forget to make digital copies of any certification.


How do I make my interests… interesting?

Find the interests that would convince someone to sit across from you in an interview. Don’t pick from a generic list of interests everyone already has. Be specific about what you like about that particular interest. For example:

My interest is soccer, it’s the only sport I care about.
I watch soccer matches even when my team is not playing.
Watching includes videos on skill moves and videos about tactics and strategy.
All this so I can play soccer, at least twice a week. (Even after suffering 2 injuries that required surgery.)

Top tip:
Show your passion.


Any references?

Try to include at least two. These should be people who have employed and managed you in the past. If you are applying for your first job then feel free to include a professor, teacher or tutor.

Top tip:
Make sure to tell your reference that you will be using them in your CV and what details you will be sharing. It’s advisable to use an office email and/or office number before using any personal details.


How often should I update my CV?

Check your CV at least once every three months.

Keep note of any new sills, qualifications, interests or experiences you have had. Make sure to include these in your generic CV. You can choose which are relevant or irrelevant for the role you are applying for.

Top tip:
Even if you are not applying for a job, have a look at job descriptions for your current, or desired, role and update your CV accordingly.

Sound daunting? We can help!

We offer design services. If you send us through your information, we can design and print a professional CV of the highest quality for you in no time. Simply drop us an email with your details at [email protected] and we can get going!

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