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Tips and Advice to Help You Write a CV

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Your Curriculum Vitae (CV), or Resume, is your personal advertisement and chance to make a good first impression with a prospective employer. There is a lot riding on this first impression with up to 90% of CVs being rejected by recruiters in as little as 8 seconds. Understanding what recruiters are looking for in these crucial seconds will help you write a first-class CV which can help you move to the next stage of the recruitment process. Following the below tips and advice will help you make a great first impression every time.

Personal Information

The first section of your CV should always be your personal information. This does not need a title and is where you state your full name and contact details including address, telephone number(s) and email address(es).

It is becoming increasingly common to only include the town and country in the address, however, you may also include your full postal address if you prefer. Please also make sure any email address you provide is professional and appropriate.

If your LinkedIn profile is accurate and up to date, you may also choose to include it in this section. It is no longer considered appropriate to include personal information such as marital status, religion, age or ethnicity.


Next should be some form of introduction, career objective or personal statement. Clearly explain, in a sentence or two, why you are the best person for this particular job, or what experience you have to offer.

Work Experience

List your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent or current position. You should also provide volunteering or internship positions in this section. Each position should be listed separately and include the following information:

Don’t leave large gaps in your work history. If possible, provide a reason for any gaps, for example, travel, maternity leave or studying.

Education and/or Training

Include the name of your University or College, graduation date and the title of your Degree(s). It is unnecessary to include high school information unless you did not attend college. You should also include all the details of any additional training or study you have undertaken if it is relevant to the position.

Other Sections – As Required

Depending on the position you are applying for, you may consider including some or all of the following:

Remember to only include information if it is relevant.

The perfect length for a CV will be argued as long as the earth turns, however, the general consensus is around two pages. For a highly-skilled, technical position, an additional page may be required. It is unlikely you will fit all of the above information on just one page, so clear formatting is a must.

Make sure you use a clear, easy to read font in an appropriate size. Fancy fonts look great on your personal projects but do not present a professional image in your CV. If you are printing your CV, serif style fonts are the clearest and easiest to read – Times New Roman, Georgia and Century Gothic are serif style fonts. For electronic versions, sans-serif styles make for easier reading – Arial, Helvetica and Calibri are popular sans serif fonts.

Font size is also important. 11 or 12 point font is the most popular, however, it may be appropriate to increase or decrease slightly in certain situations. It is not recommended to go below 9 point or above 14 point in the main body of your CV.

Use headings, bullet points and short sentences. Do not be afraid of white space. White space can increase readability, and keeping the recruiter reading is your main goal.

Check spelling, grammar and formatting. Then check it again. If necessary, check a third time. Make sure you use the same margins, font and size throughout. If you have any doubts at all, ask someone else to check it for you too. Spell check is great, but there are times when you have used a correctly spelled word in the wrong place. Spell check will not single out “from” when you really meant to say “form”.

Your CV needs to be customized for each individual position you are applying for. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all as you will want to highlight different experiences and skills for each particular role you apply for. Taking time to research your prospective employer and adjusting your CV to meet their requirements will be obvious to the recruiters and may help you land an interview.

Keep it Current and Accurate

Keep your CV current at all times. It is easier to update your latest achievements, certificates and training as they occur, rather than scramble to remember what you did and when if you find yourself applying for a position.

It’s not ok to lie or exaggerate on your CV. It can be hard to give ourselves credit for things we have done well but don’t cross the line by making things up. You will be found out at some stage and that could make for an embarrassing situation. You have things to be proud of, point them out in a clear, non-bragging way. If you follow these tips, you can write a CV which stands out from the crowd and gets the right attention from the recruiter.


application for a job with cv

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Resume vs. curriculum vitae: what's the difference, informational videos.

Watch this and other videos on our informational videos page. Check back often for new uploaded content.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for "course of life." In contrast, resume is French for "summary." Both CVs & Resumes:

If you are applying for both academic as well as industry (private or public sector) positions, you will need to prepare both a resume and a CV.

Curriculum Vitae vs. Resume: Format and Content

The CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, so the length of the document is variable. In contrast, a resume presents a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position, so length tends to be shorter and dictated by years of experience (generally 1-2 pages).

CVs are used by individuals seeking fellowships, grants, postdoctoral positions, and teaching/research positions in postsecondary institutions or high-level research positions in industry. Graduate school applications typically request a CV, but in general are looking for a resume that includes any publications and descriptions of research projects.

In many European countries, CV is used to describe all job application documents, including a resume. In the United States and Canada, CV and resume are sometimes used interchangeably. If you are not sure which kind of document to submit, it is best to ask for clarification.

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How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter: CV cover letter

Hints, tips advice and general guidance on how to write a job application cover letter - sample cv cover letter format..

With the CV complete, the next stage is to send it off to prospective employers that have been found. When doing this it is necessary to write a job application cover letter. This cover letter will accompany the CV. Its main aim is to enable your CV to be read rather than just being placed into the "pending" file or even the waste bin.

With many large organisations receiving vast quantities of CVs, it is necessary to provide as much help as possible to ensure that your CV is read. A well written job application cover letter or CV cover letter will explain what job you are applying for and why. It will detail some of the salient points in the CV to provide an introduction into the CV itself.

Often the job application CV cover letter can be considered as being equally important with the CV itself. It is well worth investing time and effort in making the letter as compelling as possible.

Typical job application cover letter

Although the application letter may be considered as being only used with paper applications, often there is a requirement for an accompanying letter with many online job applications. If not there may be a section asking why you are applying, and some of the words from the letter can be used for this.

By preparing a good job application cover letter, it is possible to use this for paper applications and then use the content for any online applications that may also be made.

Job application cover letter basics

The job application letter format should be short and succinct. It may possibly contain four or five paragraphs which could be structured as below:

Opening paragraph:   The opening paragraph is an introduction. It will state which job you are applying for and possibly where you saw any job advertisement. It may also state that the CV is enclosed.

The opening paragraph could read something like:

I am writing to apply for the position of xxxxx which was advertised in / on yyyyy. As requested I have enclosed a copy of my CV, copies of my certification, and the names of two people who are able to supply references as requested.

Second paragraph:   This section of the job application cover letter can be used to explain why you are applying detailing what particular experience skills or reasons you have that would make you suitable for the job.

The second paragraph could be worded something like:

The position you have described sounds very exciting and it would fit very well with my experience, training and skills. The key strengths I have for this role include:

Third paragraph:   This paragraph can be used to explain why you would be of particular value to the company, and give them a reason for taking your application further.

This paragraph could be used to provide an example of something you have achieved that would benefit the new company.

One of my recent successes has been to lead a project to improve the quality and accuracy of information provided by our development department to production. This reduced the number of errors occurring in the initial production phases of new products by 50%, thereby saving an estimated £500,000 a year. This experience may be of interest to you in the role for which I am applying.

For this paragraph, try to think of some area in which you have achieved a significant success. This can be large or small, dependent upon the nature of the position, but it always helps to something that shows you have initiative and the will to work with others and succeed.

Closing paragraph:   This section can be used to state when you would be available to be contacted and interviewed, detailing any times when you may not be available.

This paragraph is the last one and is typically quite short, but will invite the company to contact you if they need to for any reason. It may include your phone number and / or email address - they will already have your postal address at the head of the letter, and although they are likely to have your contact int he CV, it does no harm to provide it again.

I hope that you find my application of interest. If you have any need, please feel free to contact me either by phone (07989 xxxxxx) or by email ([email protected]).

For applications, especially for professional positions, it always helps to have a professional looking email. Emails addresses like [email protected] do not look good on application forms.

As part of the standard letter format, your address should be at the top right hand corner of the letter. It may also be necessary to include a relevant telephone number here.

This format for a job application cover letter is only one suggestion. It can be formatted as required according to the particular situation.

Job application letter hints and tips

There are several useful hints and tips about writing a job application cover letter. Most of them are very straightforward. However, one of the most useful ideas is to put yourself in the place of the person receiving the letter and asking whether it would be useful. For example receiving a job application or CV with no covering letter would imply the person did not really care, or know how to apply.

Similarly receiving a job application cover letter that is well thought out and well presented will enhance and prospects of getting an interview, and it may possibly be taken into consideration, formally or informally at the interview.

Some simple CV cover letter pointers, hints and tips are given below:

Use good quality paper:   While not spending out specially for any paper, the letter should be produced on good quality office paper.

It obviously must never be lined even if submitting a handwritten letter. If writing a handwritten letter, special lined paper with bold markings can be applied under the paper for the letter itself. In this way the bold lines will show through the letter paper and enable the letter to be writing without the words being out of line or at an angle.

Sample application letter format

When writing a traditional (paper) letter, it is still necessary to adopt the standard format used for letters. Although this can vary from time to time, a standard format for one is shown below.

The letter can be used for submissions using a paper application, but often there is also need for the same or similar words for an online job application as well.

This is a fairly standard letter layout. It can obviously be tailored to meet the individual situation, but generally this format is often used.

There are a couple of points or protocol that are worth noting:

Use of Yours sincerely, Yours faithfully or Best regards:   It is normal that the ending "Yours sincerely" is used when the letter is addressed to a particular person by name, i.e. if the letter started with "Dear Mr Bloggs", then the ending would use "Yours sincerely". When using a generic addressee, i.e. "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam", then "Yours faithfully" should be used.

Although life is less formal these days, addressing the letter in the correct way shows a professional attitude, and someone who is more likely to be able to handle themselves properly if they need to represent the company on business.

Comments about job applications letters

When companies are deluged with job applications, often it is the accompanying letter which can be used to sift the required applicants.

Having once read 106 applications in one sitting, I can quite agree. A cover letter, to me, is far more important than a CV. It’s a candidate’s chance to pull together all the strands of their experience and make clear what they would bring to the company and the role, and why they’re interested.

Having a professional looking job application cover letter can greatly help in getting the accompanying CV or resume viewed by the right people. If the job application cover letter looks professional then those processing any job applications will be more likely to take it seriously.

Many companies receiving literally thousands or applications, and therefore the overall package of information received by them has to look good and it must stand out from the others. Having a properly composed and set out accompanying letter that looks professional is part of this.


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How to Write a CV: Make the Perfect Curriculum Vitae in 2023

How to Write a CV: Make the Perfect Curriculum Vitae in 2023

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW

As seen in:

You’ve found the perfect job opportunity. You send your CV and you breathlessly wait for the call-back… but it never happens. Sound familiar? Yeah, it does for most of us. But how’s that possible?


Your CV has never been read. It wasn’t good enough.

Take heart, this nightmare scenario isn’t unfolding ever again. You’re about to learn how to write a CV no one will be able to resist reading.

Read this guide and you’ll see:

Want to save time and have your CV ready in 5 minutes? Try our CV builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ CV templates and create your CV here .

sample resume templates

Sample CV made with our builder— See more CV samples here .

Here’s how to write a CV:  

This is the most effective CV structure: the top of the document should contain important contact information, the summary is a great way to introduce yourself, and show your experience and achievements, while the rest of the curriculum vitae is there to provide as many relevant details as necessary to convince the reader that you're the perfect fit for the position.

Have a job title or position in sight already? Here are CV examples for specific situations:  100+ CV Examples for All Careers .

We'll explain how to successfuly go through each of the above mentioned steps in the following chapters of our guide.

CV, Curriculum Vitae and Resume... What are the differences?

What is a cv.

In its full form, CV stands for Curriculum Vitae (latin for: course of life). In the US, Canada, and Australia, a CV is a document you use for academic purposes. The US academic CV outlines every detail of your scholarly career. In other countries, CV is an equivalent of an American resume  and is used to apply for a job.

A CV is therefore a curriculum vitae, and other than its length and purpose in a few English-speaking countries, a CV is a synonym for a resume. Confused? Read our full guide on what a CV is .

What are the differences between a CV and a resume?

Let’s get this straight, once and for all:

In the hiring industry, nowadays there’s almost no formal difference between a CV and a resume. It’s the same thing that Brits call a CV and Americans—a resume.

Just like they do with chips and french fries, football and soccer, or Queen Elizabeth and Queen Bey.

So, if you're applying to a European company, you should create a CV. But if you're applying to a US-based employer, you need a  resume . If you're making a CV for academic purposes in the US, Canada or Australia, read our guide on the differences between a CV and a resume .

And no, a CV is not a cover letter. A curriculum vitae contains your work history, education and skills, while a cover letter is a full-blown marketing campaign. These documents are completely different, and you can learn more about those differences in this guide on Curriculum Vitae VS Cover Letter .

If you're confident now that you need a curriculum vitae, let's get this writing guide started.

Pick the Best CV Format

Here’s a disturbing thought:

Every time you’re looking for a job, you compete against 250 other candidates on average.

Yes, you read that right.

Imagine you are the recruiter and you have to review 250 job applications. Do you thoroughly read all of them? Nah, of course you don’t.

Recruiters spend only 6 seconds scanning each CV. So the very first impression is key. If you submit a neat, properly organised document, you’ll convince the recruiters to spend more time on your CV.

A poorly formatted CV, on the other hand, will get you discarded in the first-round review.

Here’s how to format a CV the right way.

Start with creating a CV outline divided into the following sections:

CV: Proper Order of Sections

Pro Tip : If you’re fresh out of uni and need to write a student CV with no experience, or if you've graduated from a very prestigious institution within the last 5 years, put your education section above your work experience.

When filling in the sections, always keep in mind the gold CV formatting rules:

Choose clear, legible fonts

Go for one of the standard CV typefaces : Arial, Tahoma, or Helvetica if you prefer sans-serif fonts, and Times New Roman or Bookman Old Style if serif fonts are your usual pick.

Use 11 to 12 pt font size and single spacing. For your name and section titles, pick 14 to 16 pt font size.

Be consistent with your CV layout

Set one-inch margins for all four sides. Make sure your CV headings are uniform—make them larger and in bold but go easy on italics and underlining.

Stick to a single dates format on your CV: for example 11-2017, or November 2017.

Don’t cram your CV with gimmicky graphics

Less is more.

White space is your friend—recruiters need some breathing room!

Plus, most of the time, after you send out your CV, it’s going to be printed in black ink on white paper. Too many graphics might make it illegible.

Get photos off of your CV

Unless you’re explicitly asked to include your photograph in the job ad.

If so—make sure to use a professional looking picture, but not as stiff as an ID photo.

Make your CV brief and relevant

Don’t be one of those candidates stuck in the nineties who think they have to include every single detail about their lives on their CVs.

Sample CV Format with Formatting Rules

Hiring, nowadays, is one hell of a hectic business. Nobody’s got the time to care for what high school you’ve attended or to read 10+ bullet point descriptions of past jobs. We’ll get to that later on.

Pro Tip : Once you’ve finished writing, save your CV in PDF to make sure your CV layout stays intact. But pay close attention to the job description. Some employers won’t accept a PDF CV. If such is the case, send your CV in Word.

Learn more about CV formatting from this quick dedicated guide I've written recently: CV Formatting—The Ideal Structure for a CV

Alright, so you’ve got the best CV template ready for ya and you know the basic CV writing rules. Time to dive in!

Add Your Contact Information the Right Way

You want the recruiters to get back to you, so you need to let them know how they can reach you.

In the contact information section, enter your:

The contact information section seems fairly straightforward, but here’s the one reason it might be tricky:

Recruiters will use it to research you online. If your social media profiles are unprofessional, or if your LinkedIn profile information doesn’t match that on your CV, you’re immediately out of the race.

Want to avoid it? Read our guide: How to Check Your Online Presence Before Recruiters Look You Up .

Start your CV with a Personal Profile

After listing their contact information on a CV, most candidates jump right into their work experience or education.

But you’ll do better than that. You will actually get remembered by the employer.

So, how to make a CV pop?

All it takes is a CV personal profile statement—a short, snappy paragraph of 100 words tops that tells the recruiters why you are just the candidate they’ve been looking for.

Your personal profile will either be a CV objective or a CV summary.

What’s the difference?

A CV objective shows what skills you’ve mastered and how you’d fit in. It’s a good choice if you’ve got little work experience relevant to the job you’re trying to land, for example, if you’re writing a student CV.

A CV summary, in turn, highlights your career progress and achievements. Use it if you’re a seasoned professional and have a lot of experience in your field.

Now, have a look at some examples. Let’s say there’s a posting for a nursing job. Here are sample nursing CV objectives and summaries.

Example of a CV Objective

Not awful, right? The problem is, in this CV objective, the bottom line is basically “I want a job because I learnt for the job.”

Have a look at another CV objective sample.

Objective for a CV—Example

See the difference? The latter candidate focused solely on what she can offer her future employer. She also mentioned the name of the specific hospital to which she’s applying.

And yes, name-dropping is something you, too, should definitely do in your CV objective.

True, it means you won’t be able to spam your CV out to every company that’s currently hiring but, then again, when was the last time you replied to a “Dear User” email?

As we said before, if you’ve got some relevant job experience under your belt, begin your CV with a CV summary instead of an objective.

Check out these sample CV summaries.

Sample CV Summary

The General Hospital Director just picked up the phone to call this candidate.

What’s so great about this CV summary?

Above all, it’s super-specific. It gives a complete outline of the candidate’s background and shows how her experience will help her tackle particular problems the hospital is facing.

Here’s another example of a CV summary.

CV Example—Summary

This one, on the other hand, says little more than “I am a nurse.” It presents nothing but generic responsibilities all nurses have.

In your CV summary, don’t ever go for meaningless buzzwords.

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a  professional resume template here for free .

Create the perfect resume

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

Writing an objective or a summary for your professional CV is tricky and we know it. That's why we've put together a dedicated guide to crafting this section: 20+ CV Personal Statement/Personal Profile Examples (Writing Guide)

For more detailed examples of summaries or objectives, check out:  How To Write A CV Summary: 21 Best Examples You Will See and 20+ CV Objective Examples—Use Them On Your CV (Tips)

List Your Relevant Work Experience & Key Achievements

More often than not, your work experience section is the most important part of your whole CV—the one that gets the most eyetime.

If you’re thinking “Easy, I just need to list my previous positions, the dates worked, and my responsibilities,” think again.

All of the above are must-haves in a basic CV. But “basic” won’t get you that dream job.

The thing is: recruiters know what you did. They want to know how well you did it and what you can offer your prospective employer.

Here’s how to make your work experience section illustrate that:

Let’s see a real-life CV example.

Here’s a sample job description for a position of a junior product marketing specialist.


Now, have a look at this example of a CV work experience entry.

CV Example—Work Experience Section

Product Marketer

Nike , 10-2015–present

Key achievement: Lead a project team (5) in designing and implementing a comprehensive social media relations strategy for a new line of lifestyle products, grew Facebook fan base from 0 to 12,000 in 4 months [LINK to the Facebook fanpage] , gained 35,000 Instagram followers [LINK to the Instagram account] in 3 months.

“Wow, we need this one to work with us!”

This entry is sure to bring that sort of response from the hiring manager.

What makes it so great?

First, it’s perfectly tailored to the job ad (have another look at the numbered phrases in bold). The candidate showed she’ll be able to manage her most important future tasks because she’s done them before.

Secondly, it’s action-verbs-packed. “Created and maintained” instead of “responsible for creating and maintaining,” “produced product pitches,” not “product pitches production.”

Last but not least, its central focus is the candidate’s achievements. Like the candidate above, if you want your CV to impress, add a “key achievement” sub-section. Then, include hard numbers. Don’t say you “significantly increased sales.” Say how much exactly. Numbers pop!

To make sure your achievements on a CV shine as they’re supposed to, follow the PAR (Problem Action Result) formula to describe them.

Like in the CV example discussed:

Key achievement: Lead a project team in designing and implementing a comprehensive social media relations strategy for a new line of lifestyle products, grew Facebook fanbase from 0 to 12,000 in 4 months, gained 35,000 Instagram followers in 3 months.

Problem: Lack of sufficient social media promotion for a new line of lifestyle products

Action: New social media strategy

Result: 12,000 Facebook fans in 4 months, and 35,000 Instagram followers in 3 months.

CV Example Work Experience Section

If you learn how to list your achievements on a CV the right way, you’ll outperform 9 out of 10 other candidates. Have a read of our dedicated guide: Achievements to Put on a CV: Complete Guide (30+ Examples)

Build Your CV Education Section Correctly

Good news is, putting your education on a CV is usually simple.

If you’ve got any post-secondary education, include only it on your CV. Don’t mention your high school, unless it’s your highest degree of education. List:

Pro Tip : Including your honours is optional. If you don’t want them to do you more harm than good, add them only if they’re 2:1 or higher for the undergrad degrees, and “merit” or “distinction” for postgrads.

CV Example—Education Section

2014 B.A. in French

University of Southampton

Easy, right?

But what if you’re writing a CV with little or no work experience? What if you’ve just graduated and are looking for your first full-blown job?

If such is the case, you should do two things:

First of all, place your education section above your work experience.

Secondly, elaborate a bit more on your academic experience. Include, for instance:

A lot of fresh graduates don’t know how to make their CVs’ education section stand out. If you want to have an edge over them, read our comprehensive guide: How to Put Your Education on a CV [Tips & Examples]

Put Relevant Skills that Fit the Job Opening

Now, for your skills. You’ve probably got plenty of these. But would a list of a dozen and a half skills look good on a CV ?

Anything but.

When it comes to skills for a CV, one issue is more important than any other: relevance. The skills you decide to include on your CV have to be relevant to the job you’re trying to land.

Remember when I mentioned tailoring your CV to the job description? Here it comes again.

How to do it?

Start with a spreadsheet. In it, list all your professional skills (that’s right, it means “eyebrow dancing” doesn’t count). Then check the job description for the skills desired by your prospective employer.

Do they match some of the skills from your spreadsheet? Presto! These are the ones to put in your CV skills section. Include an appropriate mix of hard skills , soft skills , and anything in between.

Pro Tip : When you list your skills, add a short description of each to indicate your level of proficiency. For example “Excellent,” “Advanced,” or “Basic.”

Want to find out which skills on a CV are most valued by employers? Check out this piece and impress every recruiter: 30+ Best Examples of What Skills to Put on a CV (Proven Tips)

Include Additional CV Sections to Impress the Recruiter

Let us all confess to something.

We constantly lie about ourselves. We just can’t help it—those little white lies that help put us in a slightly better light.

Care to venture a guess what group of people excels in lying?

Job seekers.

They all lie on their CVs in frail hopes that recruiters won’t be bothered to verify, say, “full bilingual proficiency in French.”

Here’s the thing: recruiters are trained to spot liars, so don’t even entertain the thought of embellishing your past achievements or skills.

But what if you could help the recruiters avoid interviewing CV fabulists altogether? There’s a surefire way to do it:

On your CV, include an additional section in which you show off your unquestionable triumphs: things that prove your value as a candidate.

The following:

Sample CV Additional Sections

A well crafted additional section can be the decisive factor in choosing you over another candidate with a seemingly similar background. Don’t ignore this chance to stand out from the crowd. Learn more from our handy guide: How to List Certifications on a CV: Guide (20+ Examples)

Don’t worry if you’re still studying and can yet showcase none of the above.

A good student CV will still benefit from an additional section. Here are some ideas:

Sample Student CV Additional Sections

For more, see: What to Include in a Curriculum Vitae Section by Section

Right, if you apply all the strategies we discussed, you’ll make a perfect CV. But hey—

Want to do it the easy way?

Organize this All on a Professional CV Template

Let’s face it—

No one likes to mess around with formatting a CV in MS Word. Luckily, there are hundreds of ready, fill-in-the-blanks CV templates available online. And we happen to offer some truly cracking ones.

Check out some of the CV templates available in our CV maker :

professional cv templates examples

CV Templates UK—See 20+ CV templates and create your CV here

And for the final word, here’s what every job seeker ought to know:

Complement Your CV with a Cover Letter

“Stalk your prospective boss to show commitment.”

Sound like the worst career advice one can get?

Well… And probably is so. But guess what—

“ You don’t need to write a cover letter ” comes in a close second.

Because as many as 45 out of 100 recruiters won’t even get around to reviewing your CV if there’s no cover letter attached, according to our HR statistics report. True, the other 55 might think a cover letter for a CV is redundant. But here’s who does read cover letters:

Hiring managers. And, at the end of the day, it’s their decision whether or not you’re getting the job.

Most people hate writing cover letters for CVs because they are clueless about how to write them properly. And writing great cover letters is much easier than it seems.

Want to learn how to do it? Here’s the only guide you’ll need: How to Write a Cover Letter in 8 Simple Steps

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here.  Here's what it may look like:

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Hiring has changed drastically. It’s fast and furious. To get your foot in the door, you’ll need to go an extra mile with your CV. Here's how to make a CV:

Do you have any more questions on how to write a job-winning CV? Give us a shout in the comments and we’ll answer your queries!

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Write a CV

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a job application document that summarizes your professional experience, skillset, and qualifications. In some circumstances, such as when applying for research placements, graduate school, or academia in general, a CV is a comprehensive description of both your professional and academic career. 

The terms resume and CV are used interchangeably in Canada and Australia. So, a resume and CV are standard documents you apply for jobs with. However, in Europe and New Zealand, the term resume does not exist. To be considered for a position, you have to send through a Curriculum Vitae.

Hope you’ll never have any more doubts about what a CV is .

How to write a good CV for a job step by step?

With Zety CV builder , you won’t have to remember all those points. It’ll remember it for you. Just pick a CV template you like the most from over 20+ designs, and let’s get you a job.

How should a perfect CV look in 2023?

A perfect CV draws attention with a modern template design and clear sections allowing for enough whitespace. An eye-catching CV design combined with highly tailored content will create an invincible duo in 2023. You'll need to strike a balance between breaking the design standards and building your CV with the Applicant Tracking Software in mind if you hope to impress your recruiters. 

See the CV templates Zety’s hiring pros have designed for you to get a head start. Pick one and go to the CV maker to complete it within minutes. Or, create a perfect CV all by yourself but with the help of one of our CV examples .

How to start writing a simple Curriculum Vitae?

Et voilà!

How to write a CV for my first job if I have no experience?

Whether you’re writing a graduate CV or executive resume , there are universal rules to follow. So, don’t worry about having little or no experience. There’s a smart way to get you a job.

What is the best CV format?

The reverse-chronological format is the best out of the three CV format musketeers . It’s simple to read by the Applicant Tracking Software, which makes it highly unlikely for your CV not to reach the recruiter. Ultimately, recruiters can make informed decisions about hiring in seconds by only skimming such a CV. What’s not to love?

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW

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Home CV Help How to Write a CV

How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) for a Job Application

Ida Pettersson

A convincing CV is essential for impressing employers and landing interviews. But first, learn exactly what a CV is and how to make one with our guide and writing tips.

Hero image illustrating how to write a CV for a job

What is a CV for a job?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a document used to apply for a job that overviews your skills, work experience, and education.

Usually paired with a well-written cover letter, a CV shows employers that you’re qualified.

What is the difference between a CV and a resume?

You’ve probably heard the term “CV” and “resume” both used to refer to the document you submit to jobs. So what makes a CV and a resume different, and what are the benefits of using a CV vs resume under certain circumstances?

In most of the world, the words “CV” and “resume” both refer to the document you send to employers to apply for a job (although “resume” is less commonly used in the UK and Europe).

However, in the United States and Canada, a CV refers specifically to the lengthy document used to apply for roles within academia, such as research positions or grad school . This type of document allows you to go into more detail about your academic accomplishments, educational background, and publications and is often referred to as an academic CV .

Put simply, if you’re applying for jobs in the US or Canada, you should use an American resume  to apply for most jobs, while a CV is a specific academic document. But if you’re from Europe or the UK, a resume and a CV are the same thing .

How to make a CV step-by-step

If you’re applying for work outside of North America, you’ll need a strong curriculum vitae to land an interview.

To help get you started, here’s how to make a CV that stands out from the competition:

1. Decide on a CV format and style

Now that you know what a CV is , you’re probably wondering how to format your CV .

Open a new document in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and use the following settings:

Additionally, whether you’re writing a CV for a job or an academic CV, you’ll need to include the following five sections at a minimum:

An example showing how to write a cv and what to include

Any other information, such as volunteer work or hobbies , are optional additions to your CV.

Formal vs creative CV style

Once you’ve formatted your CV, you need to decide on a style for it.

If you’re writing an academic CV or applying for a job at a suit-and-tie kind of workplace (such as a law firm), your CV’s style should be highly formal. A formal CV features a minimal design, serif fonts, and dark colors.

On the other hand, if you’re applying for a job in marketing or design your CV can be more creative. A creative CV design includes graphic details like skill bars, brighter colors, and more unique layouts.

Here’s a comparison of a formal CV and a creative CV so you can see the difference:

An image comparing a creative CV, featuring a headshot and bright colors, with a formal CV, which looks simple and minimalist

2. Clearly list your contact information at the top

an example of how to write a cv contact info section

First thing’s first: employers need to know who you are and how to contact you if they want to offer you an interview.

Make it easy to find that information by including the following contact details in the header of your CV, at the top of the page:

Make sure that your email address and LinkedIn profile are up-to-date and professional before adding them to your CV.

3. Open with a convincing CV objective or summary

how to write a cv example

Placed right below your CV’s header towards the top of the page, a concise and targeted CV introduction is the best way to immediately grab the attention of employers and convince them that you’re the right person for the job.

There are two types of CV introductions commonly used by job seekers:

The goal of both introduction styles is to quickly highlight your relevant experience and skills to convince employers to keep reading your CV. However, how they accomplish this goal differs depending on the introduction used.

4. List your relevant work experience in chronological order

An example of how to write a cv work experience section

This is the most important section on your CV if you’ve already begun your career. Your work experience section is where employers evaluate your qualifications, looking for information about your key professional achievements and previous responsibilities.

To write a strong work experience section, start by listing each relevant job you’ve held from the most recent at the top, to the least recent at the bottom. In most cases, you should list a maximum of four unique positions on your CV.

For each position you list, include the following information:

Then, include 3 to 5 bullet points for every position, outlining your key achievements and responsibilities while at that job.

When writing each bullet point on your CV, be sure to include the following details to make it as convincing as possible:

Here’s an example CV bullet point in action:

Enhanced conversion rates by 30% through A/B tested landing pages for a better performing conversion funnel.

Responsible for improving conversion rates. Performed A/B testing.

5. Highlight your education

An example showing how to write a cv education section

A clear education section is an essential part of your CV, especially if you’re a recent graduate or have minimal work experience.

If you have less work experience, your education section should be highly detailed to help showcase all of your academic accomplishments. However, if you’re already years into your career, keep your education section short and to-the-point to keep the focus on your work experience.

If you have work experience, include the following information in your CV’s education section:

If you’re a college student or recent graduate , you can also add the following information to your education section:

6. Showcase your skills

An example showing how to write a cv skills section

Employers are always looking for candidates who have a strong set of professional skills relevant to the jobs they’re hiring for.

While listing a bunch of skills in the skills section of your CV doesn’t prove that you’re qualified for the job, highlighting targeted, specific skills does show employers that you at least understand the job requirements.

There are two primary types of skills that you should include on your CV: hard skills and soft skills .

Hard skills

Hard skills are job-specific abilities learned through experience, education, or training. Typically, hard skills are either the technical skills needed to perform a specific job, or a general set of abilities, like project management .

If you’re applying for a job that requires specific knowledge like software development, adding hard skills to your CV is essential to landing an interview.

Here are some general examples of hard skills to include on your CV:

Soft skills

Soft skills are innate character traits that positively impact how you work or interact with other people (like interpersonal skills or creativity). They’re naturally learned throughout your life and, unlike hard skills, can’t easily be taught in a classroom.

Some examples of soft skills for your CV include:

7. Add additional information that emphasizes your qualifications

An example showing how to write a cv hobbies section

If you’ve read this far, then you’ve already assembled the basics of your CV. Now, it’s time to add the finishing details.

Including an additional section on your CV is optional, but the right information can help emphasize your qualifications or win over hiring managers (if it’s relevant).

Here are additional sections that you can include on your CV:

Candidates who speak multiple languages are valuable in a variety of industries. If you’re a polyglot, consider listing languages in a separate section on your CV to show off your skills.

Including interests or hobbies on your CV is a great way to stand apart from other applicants and show employers that you’re a good culture fit for their company.

However, before adding an interests section to your CV, consider whether your hobbies are relevant to the company you’re applying at and are work-appropriate. Also, consider the company’s level of formality.

For example, including your love for hiking is completely appropriate when applying to a casual startup, or an outdoorsy company like Patagonia.

However, highlighting how many hours you’ve put into Call of Duty when applying to a law firm would be perceived as unprofessional.

Volunteer work

Adding a section for volunteer work on your CV is a great way to highlight some of your transferable skills and demonstrate that you’re involved in your community.

These two reasons alone make volunteer work a great addition to your CV, but it’s especially effective to include if you’re applying for work in the nonprofit sector or in politics.

Additionally, including volunteer work helps fill out your CV if you lack paid work experience.

3 good CV examples

To help you get a better idea of what your finished curriculum vitae should look like, here are three CV examples made using some of our CV templates :

1 page CV example (with no work experience)

First, here’s a CV example from someone with no work experience :

An example of how to write a cv with no work experience

Download This Free Example

1 page CV example (with work experience)

Now, here’s an example of a CV with years of work experience:

An example of how to write a cv with experience

 Academic CV example

Finally, here’s an example an academic CV (the type you’d use in American universities) from a candidate just starting their academic career:

An example showing how to write a cv as an academic

Click to rate this article

Ida Pettersson

Written by Ida Pettersson

Ida is a Content Writer at Resume Genius, where she assists job seekers as they plan their next career moves. She graduated from New College of Florida with a double major... more

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Finding and Applying for Jobs

You are here, cvs, resumes, and cover letters.

Once you’ve identified job postings that you want to apply for, you'll need to prepare your application materials. Our resources below will take you through how to develop your cover letter and CV or resume, including how to tailor them to the positions you are applying for.

application for a job with cv

Application materials

While the cover letter and CV or resume are the main standard components of application materials, the expectations for these documents will vary with different positions. In addition, most research positions ask for CVs, while most other positions ask for a resume. Learn the difference between these documents in our resources below!

For sample application materials for postdoc positions, refer to Module 2, Session 2 of The Strategic Postdoc .

For sample application materials for faculty positions, see our Application Materials for Faculty Positions page . Also be sure to check out our short video series Applying for Faculty Positions , which goes step by step through how to create application materials that emphasize your strengths.

More CV, resume, and cover letter resources

Start by reading and analyzing a job description

Highlight and use key words from the job description to create a targeted resume and cover letter - and get noticed by the hiring manager and HR.  View these annotated samples to: 

Tailor your CV/resume

Sample resumes

Note: Do not copy the text verbatim. It is unethical and unwise, as several employers recognize our samples. For extra help, please schedule an appointment .

Sample cover letters

Notice that the documents are shorter and less formal than academic cover letters.

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CVs for faculty job applications

The CV is a complete summary of all of your academic achievements and can be as long as needed. Although it will grow longer as your academic career progresses, you’ll want to make sure that you include accomplishments that are relevant and important. It typically includes sections such as education, publications, awards/grants/fellowships, conference presentations, teaching experience, research experience, academic/professional service, professional affiliations, and references. Depending on the institution you’re applying to, your CV will be able to answer these basic questions that search committees will ask: What is your dissertation topic? Have you published? Do you have teaching experience? Have you presented at major conferences in your discipline? What are your teaching and research interests?

The Purpose of a CV

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) details all your academic credentials and professional accomplishments and is used for seeking faculty jobs as well as for applying for academic postdoctoral research opportunities, grants and fellowships. The purpose of the CV is to interest a committee in interviewing you. Although there is basic information that should always appear in your CV, you select the “message” of accomplishments that will show you are a strong candidate for a particular job, department and institution. In ordering your CV it is important to pay attention to position’s requirements and the kind of school (e.g., research institution, liberal arts college, community college).

CVs vary slightly from discipline to discipline, so you should make sure to look at the CV’s of others in your field – fellow grad students, other postdocs in your lab, new faculty in your department – or show your CV to your advisor. Keeping in mind that different fields have different CV conventions, the advice below is meant to be a broad overview, rather than field specific. For a detailed discussion of CV structure and content as well as many sample CVs of people who obtained academic jobs or postdocs, see the Academic Job Search Handbook , available to Penn doctoral students and postdocs for $10 at Career Services.

Timeline: Getting Started with your CV

Step 1: Before drafting your CV, review all your qualifications. Using the categories suggested below, list everything which you might include. This list will form the basis for your CV and will help you identify your accomplishments. Eventually you will choose how to order your information for each application, but initially it is important not to overlook anything relevant.

Step 2: The next step is to find a job to apply to, or at least the type of job you want to apply to. To be most effective in your applications, you must understand the conventions of the field you wish to apply to and the kinds of institutions that interest you.

Step 3: Go through the job announcement and carefully note the requirements the hiring institution is seeking. Based on your research of the institution and department on their website as well as information you may have from your advisor or others, write a CV that illustrates that you have relevant qualifications and experience. In this stage, you should experiment with the format, pare down irrelevant information, have the CV critiqued by a Career Services advisor, and then make at least one more draft before you produce the final version. Have your CV looked over by many pairs of eyes, including your dissertation advisor, PI or committee members, especially for accurate proofreading, but know that everyone will have different ideas for you.

Anatomy of a CV

Every CV should include information about your education and relevant professional experience. Content suggestions are that you organize each section in reverse chronological order (listing the most recent first, and then going back in time) and put the most important information on the first few pages. Use clear, easy-to-understand language.

Standard CV Categories include: Name and contact information, education, honors and awards, experience, or more specifically “research experience” and “teaching experience,” publications and presentations, scholarly/professional affiliations, research interests and teaching competencies.

Many other sections may be added, including: professional experience, licensing/registration/certification, grants, university service, extracurricular and community activities, languages, computer and research skills, additional information, references.

Within standard and optional categories, showcase your strengths in relation to the job that interests you. If you are applying for positions in different types of institutions or departments, you will probably need more than one version of your CV. For example, you can vary them by using different headings to emphasize information of particular relevance to a position. In general, whatever is most important merits the most space.

Formatting and Layout

Layout is crucial to the impression your CV makes. In general, the simpler the formatting the easier it is to read. Use a standard font that is easy to read. Although there is no page limit, be concise. Include your name on every page, and a page number. To create emphasis, use indentations, capitalizations, spacing, or boldface. Avoid putting dates on the left-hand margin, as this emphasized when you did something rather than the experience you are trying to showcase. Use formatting techniques consistently. The following elements can be listed in a different order in your CV.

View CV samples from different fields, provided by Penn graduates and postdocs after their successful job searches.

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