How to write a CV

CV is an abbreviation of a Latin word ‘Curriculum Vitae’ that means course of life. It is a short document, divided into two or more pages, that outlines your personal details, educational qualifications, work experiences, accomplishments, interests, skills, references and other achievements such as awards, distinctions, honours and publications. CV must be enclosed with an application for a job.

Your CV is the first step towards your selection for a job. Your CV must be impressive enough to make you stand out among other applicants. Employers assess the CVs of applicant to shortlist them for an interview. Despite having the required proficiency for a job, many applicants are not shortlisted for interview because they do not present themselves on their CV in a good way. Apart from that, the panel reads your CV to have an impression of yours before you appear in the interview.  The contents and style of your CV should make a splendid impression upon them.

The guidelines to compose an elegant CV are as follows:

   Understanding the structure of CV

The CV is divided into following sections:

  1. Personal Details: Name, date of birth, address, contact number, e-mail address and a small picture.
  2. Educational Details: List of degrees and programs of formal education, obtained marks, total marks, names of institutions, year of passing exams and aggregate marks.
  3. Professional Experience: List of your work experiences, start and end dates of the experience, names of organizations, job title and description.
  4. Achievements and Accomplishments: Awards, distinctions, honours, volunteer internships, membership of programs, participation in debates and competitions and so on.
  5. Skills and Abilities: Computer skills, communication skills, leadership qualities, teamwork abilities, organizational skills and so on.

You can also add more sections to your CV such as a section of research publications to outline your published papers. You may add a section of references if a job advertisement requires it, otherwise you can omit it. Two referees are enough that include your academic tutor and your employer from organization where you worked. In the referees section, you can also write ‘referees are available upon request’.

   Preparing the contents of your CV

CV is an important document. You have to make it once and submit it each time you apply for a job. Hence, you should give proper time to make the contents of your CV.

  1. Take a pen and a paper.
  2. Start writing for each section of CV as given above.
  3. Some details are clearly known to you such as your personal details, e.g. name, date of birth, address, contact numbers and e-mail address. You just need to refine their wordings and style of writing. Follow correct format of writing your date of birth e.g. 15th April, 1985. Similarly your address should be composed in correct manner e.g. House No. 345, New Gardens, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. Use a correct contact number and e-mail address as they will be used for contacting you.
  4. Select a good and simple picture of yours to be added in the section of personal details. It should be a passport-size small photograph.
  5. Educational details should be correctly listed on your CV. Write down the titles of your degrees and academic programs, names of your institutions, duration of program, years of passing exams and aggregate marks.  Ensure that all these details are correct as reflected on your degrees and certificates.
  6. You may also add the key subjects or courses of the program in description for each degree in the section of Educational details. It gives a broad view of your academic qualification to the reader. It also reflects the relevancy of your education to the job you are applying for.
  7. The details of work experience, skills and abilities and achievements require proper brainstorming. You have to think about them carefully to present each detail in an inspiring manner.
  8. Write down the title for each work experience, start and end date (duration) and name of the organization of your experience. To make your experience details look appealing and relevant, add a short description of your job tasks to each experience title. You regular employment as well as your temporary internship should be mentioned as your experience.
  9. If you have no work experience to mention, don’t worry! Start thinking if you have ever participated (even as a volunteer) in a workshop, seminar, program or a campaign. You can mention such participation as your experience as you have gained practical learning from it.
  10. For skills and abilities, think about your abilities and skills which should be presented on your CV. We may have many skills and abilities but we either do not consider them or do not know how to mention them in correct wordings on CV. Suppose you are good at operating computer, you must mention that you have good computer skills. You can also add a name of computer program e.g. Microsoft Office. You can include many qualities such as leadership qualities, communication skills, command on various languages, teamwork and organizational skills, managerial skills and so on.
  11. For achievements and accomplishments section, you should include all your awards, honours, medals, distinctions; and top three positions secured in academics and co-curricular competitions. You can also mention your other distinctive accomplishments such as attending a workshop or seminars, membership of societies in college or university, performing as a student-proctor,  membership of editorial board of college or school magazine, membership of welfare group such blood-donation group, written articles for newspapers, and so on.

   Composing your CV on Computer

The content and style of your CV are equally important for having an exquisite impression. You must compose your CV on a computer to style it and give it a professional look. Guidelines for composing CV on computer are as follows:

  1. There are many programs of computer for writing your CV. For example, Microsoft Office is a known program for writing and printing purpose. It is an easy program and almost every one can use it.
  2. Design: You can make a format for your CV or download a format from internet. The format must be clean and simple.
  3. Drafting the details: The details of the CV must be written in concise form. Write your details in short and simplified sentences or phrases. It should reflect the basic information. Avoid unnecessary elongation of sentences and phrases. It will hide your basic information from being read by the reader. You CV must be short. It helps the reader easily read your all details in a less time and know more about you.
  4. Font type and size: Use proper fonts for writing your CV to give it a professional look. Times New Roman is one of nice fonts. Similarly, write some information in bold words or in italic words to distinguish between groups of information. For instance, you may write the title of your educational degree in bold words, and institution name in italic words. You can also use more than one font. Use proper size of fonts. The size of font should not be too small or too large. It will affect the overall design of your CV. For instance, if your font is ‘Times New Roman’, the best size for it is 12 or 13. Font size varies for different fonts.
  5. Demarcation of sections: Use line or box for each section to show demarcation of sections. You can use a table within a section, if required.
  6. Use proper bullets for listing items of CV
  7. Have proper spacing between the lines. The lines should not be compacted too much. The lines should be spaced enough to be read easily.
  8. Wording of CV: The words, used to express your details, should be properly selected. The overall wording of the CV should be appealing enough to engage the reader to read it.
  9. Printing your CV: A CV should not be more than two pages. Two pages are enough for reflecting all you details. Set the size of page in computer as ‘A4 size page’ for printing your CV.  Take a print-out of your CV and proof read it for errors, if any. Check spelling and grammatical errors in you CV.