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The course of my life — is the translation from Latin for Curriculum Vitae, or CV for short. A short history trip: no one other than the “renaissance man”, Leonardo da Vinci, should be the first to create a CV. Legend has it that Da Vinci was hoping to get work from the Duke of Milan, so he prepared a list of his skills and achievements (including rock flinging, construction of lightweight bridges and — in time of peace — sculpture) to impress the Duke. Thus, the first resume was put to paper in 1482.
More than 500 years old, the curriculum vitae has refused to become obsolete, but with new platforms come entirely new ways of presenting yourself and your experiences. Regardless of its ever-evolving look and feel, the CV remains your most important tool for telling a potential employer about you.
It’s common, that your resume is the first impression your potential employer receives from you. It’s a short reverse chronological journey through your educational, professional and personal key points. Mostly, it’s your one big chance to make a good first impression.
The average number of applicants for corporate job roles is 250 — only about 2% of those applicants get an interview.
From this perspective, HR managers don’t have the time or resources to interview everyone, so they are looking to filter out candidates as quickly as possible. In the end, you need to outstand your competition, and your first chance to do that is with your CV.
Nowadays, more and more people are applying for the same type of jobs you are interested in. It means you truly have to take the matter of your CV as seriously as possible, to stand out from your competition. Here we provide you with effective & important insights for your CV.
Language and Grammar
No language or grammatical errors are allowed in your CV, it shows the recruiter that you’re not careful or diligent enough. Proof-read your CV as many times as possible and get it verified by your friends and/or family. The recruitment and employment commission says that around 50% of all CVs received contain spelling or grammatical errors. Don’t hesitate to use a spell checker and do proofreading. Also, reading CV out loud can help to identify mistakes better.
Catch the recruiters’ attention and keep these essentially important points in mind
- Your details must be in a reverse chronological manner: the latest employment or educational detail coming first, followed by the preceding one and so on.
- Clearly outline the dates, especially for your employment history. The best format is the format that will make it easiest for the hiring manager to scan your CV and still be able to pick out your key qualifications and career goals. Also, it should be easy to read (e.g. font size)
- Length of your CV should be one to two pages long. If your CV is quite long, cut skills and responsibilities that aren’t relevant at all. A good role of thumb, if you’re not a millionaire genius your CV shouldn’t be longer than 2 pages.
- Include all relevant highlights — your roles and responsibilities and special projects
- If you had many job changes, it may be better to focus on the most relevant one for your future job search.
Educational & Work Experience Details
Highlight the most relevant work experience, educational qualifications, and skills for the role you are applying for. Your CV should show the employer as quickly as possible that you match their requirements for the role. Read the Job Description carefully, then decide which information is relevant — remember you are selling you as the perfect fit for the opportunity. Refer to the job advert and make sure that your skills and work experience show that you tick all the boxes. Prove and back up your claimed skills wherever possible.
Extracurricular Activities/Positions of Responsibility
Mention your achievements or responsibilities outside your career path: sports, music, case studies, live projects etc. Those are especialy good to mention if they are relevant to the position or if you don’t have a lot of work experience.
Get a little creative with your CV, spend some time to restructure your resume with some powerful verbs and action words. Grab your recruiters eye! BUT: don’t get too creative, keep your CV easy to read and professional. Aligned headings and structured layout are key. A simple classic font, additionally, underlined, bold and italic text is only sparingly to use. DONT’S: Handwriting, distracting colors or clipart.
Get personal, but how far? Don’t include your marital status, religious preference. This might have been the standard in the past, but this information is now illegal or highly discouraged for your employer to ask from you, so there’s no need to include it. On the other hand, it is somewhat difficult to find out which personal information is customary in which countries. It depends on each countries’ labor market specifics (e.g. the German vs. the U.S.). Do some research what countries have which rules for CVs, for example, if you’ll apply in North America, you shouldn’t add a photo or date of birth, but in Germany, it’s a common thing. In the end, the employer wants you to fit in the team and company (culture), so he needs to have a rough idea of your personality — but how much personality can you show without going too far? Take care of your hobbies & interests section in your CV, they say more about you than you may think.
What interests & hobbies should you mention in your CV, and why? It’s important to understand what your interests & hobbies say about you. If you have thought that this part of your CV wasn’t really important because it’s not related to your skills and experience, then you should think it over again. Employers like to see this section because it reflects who you are. They can better understand if this individual will fit the team. Furthermore, it shows indirectly other skills, for example, if you’re a coach for a sporting team, it reveals that you are able to take leadership. If you are writing a blog, it shows that you have communication skills and self-motivation. Volunteering reflects that you are a carrying person with a streak of public interest. Take into consideration what attributes will be crucial for the role you apply. Then consider your hobbies and interests that paint a picture of a person perfect for the job.
If you have a lot going on outside of the office or university, this could be your ticket to a compelling and interesting resume.
- Volunteer work reflects your leadership skills, project management, and social responsibility.
- Professionally relevant hobbies as writing, photography, or computer programming reflect your creativity, accomplishments and your initiative/proactivity
- Interests like athletic activities or open source projects will show your culture fit and personality. It’s a great way to show your passions, dedications and how well you fit the company and team — especially for small companies/startups or ones with a strong culture.
But don’t overdo these section, stay honest and focus on relevant activities which match the job offer. Also, keep in mind that there is no one blueprint of your CV for all of your applications. Customize your CV for each of your applications: what is the most important information for the specific job you’re applying for. Additionally, use positive language – replace negative phrases with positive ones: a mistake can be a valuable lesson.
Eye Tracking Study
The recruiters’ behavior while dealing with resumes have been eye-tracked – the main findings are:
- Recruiters spent about 4 to 5 minutes per resume (self-report), but eye tracking showed that they spend on average 6 seconds on reviewing an individual resume
- Recruiters follow a consistent visual path when reviewing resumes and online profiles – an organized layout is crucial. It’s important that your CV is easy to read.
Key recommendations from the eye-tracking study:
- Organized layout
- Strong visual hierarchy
- Online profiles have to be easy to read, without distracting visuals
You’re still not sure how to format your CV? We’re glad to help you with your resume
- Have a look at MoBerries CV tips video
- Check out our CV Best Practices
- Create a CV with CVmaker or resume.com
- Use the TopCV to determine the strengths your CV