How to write a good CV

Why does one need a CV?

If you are applying for a job and your potential employer is not your friend, your department at university, or an acquaintance of your parents’, you will most likely need to provide a CV — just like the other applicants. After studying your CV, the potential employer will decide whether to invite you for a job interview.

Does everyone need a standard CV? Can I be creative about it?

A standard CV is not a universal requirement in the labor market. Some employers (mostly small businesses, startups, and creative teams) ask for a free-form essay that explains why you are exactly what they are looking for. At times, you may need to do a test assignment, answer a few questions, or show your creative potential otherwise. In such cases a CV is irrelevant. However, many companies still require a standard CV.

Is it a good idea to send the same CV to different companies when applying for different positions?

Not really. It is better to create a template and adjust it according to the requirements of a specific vacancy or employer. Study the corporate website and the requirements for applicants. Make sure to highlight the most relevant of your skills.

Now let us move on to the specifics. What should I include?

A standard CV contains your name, surname, contact details (phone number, email address, Skype ID), previous work experience, and education (school, college, and professional training). The Internet is full of templates you can use.

How to showcase my academic and professional achievements?

A hiring manager or HR specialist will find it easier to assess whether you match the criteria if you list your education and work experience starting from the most relevant. That is, you start either from the most relevant or the latest job, then list the previous one, and so on. If you do it chronologically, your employer will see your earliest work experience first, which could be rather unimpressive.

Modern companies are fond of KPIs (key performance indicators) — target rates an employee is supposed to meet. If you describe your previous employer, position, responsibilities, and achievements — for instance, you helped the company go global, drove up sales, expanded the department, or launched a new business segment — it will certainly give you extra points.

Is it necessary to describe my entire work experience?

Yes, as it is important to specify how many companies you have worked for and how often you changed employers. Even if your positions were irrelevant to the post you currently seek, it will give the recruiter an idea of your career.

Should I include a photo?

You should, if asked. Select a close-up portrait like the one you would use for an ID. Refrain from using funny or cute photos, even if you like the way you look in them. Cutting your face out of a group photo is not a good idea, even if you were wearing your best suit that day. The best place for the photo is the upper right-hand corner of the first page. If the vacancy description does not mention a photo, do not include it.

My CV is boring. What if I embellish it a little?

Don’t. In the world of social media and publicly accessible databases you can be exposed as a liar, and it will go on record on recruitment resources. Alternatively, your colleagues could learn about your “exaggerations” from a post on social media. If you fear that you are not good enough for your dream job, take an online course in the area of the company’s interests and back your CV with a relevant certificate or diploma. You could also start with an internship in another company to get the necessary expertise and try your luck with the employer of your dreams next year.

Should I state my desired salary?

No, you should not. The company might be willing to offer you more than you ask for. Or less. Some companies are prepared to offer a higher salary to an applicant they are interested in. They could also consider offering you a higher position if the interview goes well. However, they may ask you about your expectations. If you know exactly how much you want to earn, give them the figure, or at least the lowest limit.

How do I write a cover letter?

Do not make it long — no one has the time to peruse hundreds of such letters from applicants.

Refrain from jokes, as your recipient might have a different sense of humor.

Refrain from clichés as well — they are irritating.

Do not flatter — your employer needs a specialist, not an admirer.

Do not write “I am the person you are looking for” because the recruiter must have seen this phrase dozens of times.

Try to be concise and clear about why your CV is worth opening. Explain why this particular position interests you and what makes you a good choice for this particular company.

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