Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a Latin term meaning 'the course of one's life'. Your CV is a brief written account of the main events in your life. It provides a systematic, neatly arranged breakdown of the type of person you are, your skills, personal details, educational background and work experience. This makes it the most important document in your search for a new job.
In your letter of application you briefly explain why you feel that you are particularly suited for the job in question. In your CV you should list the facts that back this up. Your CV is as it were an enclosure to your letter of application - a very indispensable one, though! There is no point in applying for a job without a CV. Always make sure that you enclose a CV even when you have only just finished school or university and/or have very little experience.
Employers often need very little time to get an idea of who you are from your CV. A valuable CV is therefore one that attracts attention and immediately stands out. In order to achieve this goal, we are providing you with some tips on you should and should not do.
Always start by stating your personal details (name, address, place of residence, age). After this you should at the very least mention your education and your work experience thus far. The best way to do this is in reverse chronological order, i.e. start with the last educational establishment you attended or your last job. These three aspects are the most important elements of a CV. The sections below provide more detailed information on all these aspects.
In addition, you should include any information which you think is worth mentioning or is relevant to the job.
As far as your education is concerned, you should mention whether or not you successfully completed the course in question, and, if so, in which year. You could also provide some brief information on the subjects you studied. But you should only do so if this information is relevant to the job.
If you are applying for a job at a multinational just after you have left school, it is advisable to include the foreign languages you studied in your CV.
If you went on to further or higher education it is best not to mention which subjects you took at secondary school. It is now far more important to state what you studied after you left secondary education. You could for instance mention your specialist area, your internship or the topic of your thesis. But you should only really mention these if they are relevant to the job. Otherwise this information is totally superfluous.
Work experience and other information
Do not just mention the name of the company and the position you held, but also provide a brief job description. State for instance whether you held an executive position or worked on a particular project. This will give the recruiter an impression of your abilities. After all, a recruiter is not familiar with every company.
If you, for instance, only mention that 'From February 2001 up to and including November 2002, I worked in sales at Apple & co', the person reading the letter will have no idea as to what that job actually entailed. Were you on the sales staff (telesales or field sales?) at a software company or did you work as a shop assistant at a greengrocer's?
After a number of years of work experience, your internships will become less interesting. Do not provide too much information on these, unless they are very relevant to the job that you are applying for.
Other information that might be worth mentioning in a CV:
Relevant outside activities that you are involved in - such as: voluntary work, committees, and student union activities.
Hobbies - providing that they are relevant to the work you are going to be doing. Building websites may be relevant, embroidery on the other hand is not!
Language skills -mention whether you have a poor/good/excellent spoken or written command of the languages in question.
References - few recruiters actually contact references, but you could mention them anyway. You never know, they might be of help.
Perhaps needless to say, but still: make sure it looks good. Do not make any typing or spelling mistakes, be clear and to the point. Make sure that the recruiter does not have to guess at things. He does not have the time for this. Furthermore, make sure that there are not any 'gaps' or explain them: trip around the world, family reasons and so on.
Many books with tips on how to write a good CV say that your CV should never be longer than one A4. But this is at odds with the requirement that a CV has to be clearly laid out and present a clear picture of the candidate. Even though some extra spaces make a CV longer, they also make it far easier to read. Two A4s are fine (after all, you have to be able to say a few things about yourself) but make sure that your CV does not get any longer than that!
In other words: be concise. Only provide information on (training) courses, software knowledge, hobbies and references that is relevant. Bear in mind that a CV does not have to be an autobiography or life story!
More and more recruiters prefer digital a CV. If you decide to send your CV online, you should first of all find out in which format and in which file they would like to receive your CV.
Your CV is not a standard document. Adapt the content to the vacancy in question. Pay attention to the requirements stated in the advertisement. Try to adapt your CV accordingly, but do not exaggerate. Also try to make the most of your strong points. Present yourself in a positive manner - but again do not exaggerate.
Also see "10 TOP CV TIPS"