How To Write a Successful CV

While a great CV typically has to include some essential elements, not all of the rules of CV writing are cast in stone. You will agree with me when I say that as long as your CV is designed to be convincing, then you have created a great CV. One of the most important skills in CV writing is crafting a CV that is not to convince by lying but being wise to omit some aspects that will not portray you in a positive light. This short article provides you with the essentials of successful CV writing that will make your application stand out.

by Amy Q.

How To Write a Successful CV

What to Include

You can experiment with different layouts for your CV, though you need to ensure that it includes the following essentials:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Career Objective
  • Name and Contact Information

You do not necessarily have to use these categories/titles for your CV. Select titles and categories depending on relevancy to your qualifications and strengths. Ensure that you format the CV in a chronological format with the most recent jobs and education qualifications listed first. Employers tend to be more partial to more recent job experiences and qualifications rather than old ones. If you are fresh out of school, job experience may be a tricky affair. However, voluntary, part time, and temporary jobs will suffice as job experience. If you have held several jobs over the years, only include the most relevant ones to the job you are applying for, as it shows you are interested in a given line of work. For instance, if you are applying for an engineering position but have some experience in sales and marketing, do not include such work experience. Rather, experience working as a PA for a site engineer may come in handy. Lastly, ensure that your CV has a modern feel and is up to date.

Personal Profile

A personal profile is a very critical component as it provides an outline of the main competencies and skills that you will flesh out in the latter sections. Do not make this too long; rather make it a brief summary of about 6 lines outlining your motivations, personal strengths, team working skills and educational qualifications. Since many recruiters barely make it to the end of the application, you need to make your profile eye catching and punchy. Pack it with your most impressive qualifications and skills to draw in the recruiter to read your entire CV.


You may opt for other titles if they sound better or more relevant to the job you are applying for. Some of the titles that may work fine include Sales Experience, Military Experience, Temporary Jobs/Positions, and Work Experience. The information you provide about your expertise and aptitude is what will make or break your CV. To improve your design and make your proficiency stand out use bulleted lists rather than paragraphs on this section. Focus on results you achieved rather than duties held since employers tend to put more value on your achievements rather than your responsibilities. For instance, a recruiter will be more impressed if you assert that you achieved a 30% reduction in office expenses if you are an accountant.

Qualifications and Training

In this section, you need to present your training and experience from previous jobs including your education qualifications. One of the most important things to note is that experience in the field can be gleaned from the words you use. As such, you need to include the specialized terminology specific to the job you are applying for. Read newspapers and job advertisements in your field to find common terminologies expected of candidates applying for such jobs and include them in your application.


While these are not so important, they can add flavor to your application and make it stand out from the rest. Mentioning that you are a member of an organizing committee for a club or that you lead a volunteer group can score you some good leadership points in the application. Employers nowadays want a more rounded personality and hence if you can show that you are involved in the community or simply that you have a life outside work, you will be miles ahead of a person that does not.


The modern CV no longer includes a references list. Nonetheless, it is important to include the declaration; references are available on request. It is highly likely that you will be required to provide your references at some stage of the job application process and hence you need to have them at hand. Three references will do for most job applications. Note that roommates, friends, and cousins do not qualify as references even if you did some work for them since they are likely to have bias towards you. One last thing, you need to ensure your references are up to date; ask your referees for permission to use them in your applications and tell them the qualifications sought by the employer.

Other Information

In some instances, it may be necessary to have a section showing some proficiencies not portrayed by your work experience. Some information that you may include are positive explanation of gap years due to family or personal issues, skills you used to overcome the family or personal problems. If you have lived in another country or have foreign language proficiency, you can include it here.

Keep your CV Up to Date

An updated CV is so important as it:

  • Ensures you provide accurate contact details
  • Provides a precise reflection of your personality
  • Portrays your most recent expertise and skills as you develop or improve them

What not to Include

Private Information – Your CV should never have important personal information such as residence, date of birth, number of children, driving license social security number. You do not know who may come across your CV and you do not want to become a victim of stalkers or identity thieves.

Given that many employers believe that your CV is the total reflection of you as a future employee, any lapses or errors in your CV may immediately disqualify you for the job. Some job seekers have unique problems such as

  • Not having any work experience - Include any work experience even it it is from temporary or volunteer jobs
  • Having been laid off/sacked - Explain the circumstances that resulted in your sacking. If not, simply omit such details
  • Changing field of work - Explain your motivations for changing your field of work
  • Been out of work for a time - Explain why you have been out of work for an extended period of time; you have been ill, have been involved in business or have been reevaluating your career options
  • All experience is not relevant to job applied - You are fresh out of school

Electronic Resumes

Most companies nowadays require resumes to be submitted electronically. They then use software to sort and eliminate candidates that do not match the requirements of the job. The most important elements that they use to determine suitability is the use of industry keywords and phrases. As such when writing out your CV, be sure to include important keywords such as;

  • Project management
  • Leadership
  • Team builder
  • Decision-making and problem solving

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