In 20 years of recruitment I must have read thousands CVs and probably drafted hundreds while assisting individuals in their quest for exploring new employment opportunities.
The average time for writing a meaningful, accurate and appealing CV is of 4-5 dedicated hours! This is quality time! No joking. The time spent looking back, assessing past achievements, indentifying key areas of expertise, knowledge and skills is a rewarding experience! It moreover helps you to look into the future with full confidence and feasible targets.
People often tell me that they didn’t even realize how valuable their work contribution has been, prior reviewing their CV. Too busy working, one can easily lose sight of her/his professional highlights and peaks.
This is the reason why, writing or re-writing the CV can be a motivating endeavor, flavored with pride, self-appreciation & self-esteem, joy, a bit of nostalgia at times, maybe some drops of regret or criticism (“I could have done better under circumstances!”), but all in all a fulfilling exercise!
Since your CV describes an enormous part of your life (think of all the hours you spend working), you should definitely write it with passion and dedication! To achieve this, I will try to summarize my best advice for you to consider when writing your CV:
- Identify and emphasize your achievements in every job as opposed to day-to-day responsibilities (“What did I do that made a difference on the job?”, “What happened thanks to my contribution?”, “What wouldn’t have been accomplished in the organization if I wouldn’t have initiated it? etc.)
- Do not focus at first on the length of the CV; take as much space as you need to clearly describe your assignments! You will have time for fine-tuning once you are ready writing.
- Use Word / PDF formats and rather keep away from CV templates posted by online recruitment sites. Even avoid concentrating on European CV templates or US standards. Conceive a template that represents you! (Having said that, please definitely avoid Excel, PowerPoint formats!)
- Your picture is not as important as you might think. Your background is! (However, if you still chose a picture, then chose wisely!)
- The chronology of the résumé typically starts with the current / last job and goes back to the first one (make sure to describe your last assignment as accurate as possible!)
- As much as you might be proud of your educational background and attended courses, please leave them for the end of the CV (employers care more about your experience and less about your training – unless it’s a really specialized one / hard skills as opposed to soft skills / and definitely requested by the job you are applying for)
- Highlight your main areas of expertise, your skills, professional qualifications & attributes and knowledge in a dedicated chapter (paragraph) of your CV (select attentively, focusing also on your future goals, on the message that you want to convey to recruiters)
- If you decide to insert a header with the Objective of your CV / of your next career step, be realistic and very clear! Highlighting an objective might be tricky – it might well happen that recruiters will read the objective and fail to read through the entire CV and you could lose opportunities that have not been literally listed in the objective line)
- Never overestimate or underestimate your foreign language skills! Try to use an explicit word for describing the level of your knowledge (fluent, very good, basic – I usually advice not to insert at all the languages you speak at a basic level in the CV). Some CVs come with a grading proposed by the EU format or by the US template. The grading is confusing for many recruiters, therefore keep it simple!
- Don’t forget to insert your contact data (e-mail & mobile phone number) and please do not use e-mail addresses with funny nicknames (you might even want to create an address with name and surname specifically for the purpose of business communication with potential employers and recruiters)
- Hobbies are not a must in the CV! However, if they can convey an interesting message about yourself, then you might want to add them.
- Some countries have clear confidentiality terms related to DOB, marital status, other personal data. You can decide yourself if you want to insert the date / year of birth (even if you don’t, one always can calculate approximately, by using the other dates in your CV – graduation years, etc.). Everything else is completely up to you to add or not.
- Whatever you decide to write, make sure that it is 100% true!
I am almost certain that I might have missed several other topics related to CV Writing. Therefore please come back to me with your additional comments, questions & suggestions and I will respond! Enjoy writing your CV!
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