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If you're searching for a new job, then it might be time to update your CV, but you have to make it professional and appealing if you want to stand out. So, you might be wondering, what is a good CV and how do I make one? We're so glad you asked!

What is a good CV?

Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a Latin term that means "course of life". More applicably, it's a common term used for a document detailing your best qualities, previous experience, and qualification. In some cases, this is also called a "resume".

So, what is the purpose of a CV? Most often, this is used to display your aptitude for an open role, such as a job or volunteer position.

Generally speaking, it should act as a "highlight reel" for your entire professional life, with the occasional adjustment for different jobs. Of course, anybody can write a CV, but writing a good CV that gets responses is a different challenge. Here's what you need to know.

what goes on a CV?

For a high-quality CV, you will need to tell potential employers all of your greatest qualities in as clear and concise a manner as possible. In most cases, a CV will list:

  • Personal information (contact information, name, etc.)
  • A personal statement
  • Educational background
  • Previous experience (work, volunteer, internships, etc.)
  • Applicable skills
  • Professional achievements

This information will have to highlight all of your best qualities as a worker in a way that will engage and inform the reader. For every job posting, there are 118 applications on average, so it's best not to overwhelm potential employers with information. Otherwise, they may not read it.

Also, you will need to tailor your CV to the job for which you are applying. A general CV is excellent to keep in your back pocket, but a personalised touch will help you stand out from your competition.

How to Write a Good CV

If you're planning to apply for jobs at any point in the near future, then now is the perfect time to write a professional, updated CV. Here's what you need to do.

1. add a great headline

So, what is a headline on a CV? The headline should include all of your personal information.

At the top, always include your name, address, and contact information. If any of these change over time, make sure you update them before sending out your resume. Otherwise, employers may try to reach out to you and never hear from you.

As you write the document, double-check for errors. If you want, you can use extensions like Grammarly to verify your spelling and grammar, but also remember to verify contact and personal information.

2. start with a good personal statement

Not all CVs use personal statements, summaries, or objectives, but the good ones do. So, what is a personal statement on a CV? Well, it should be a brief summary of your objectives, ambitions, and achievements. Let's use a couple of examples.

  • "As a dedicated administrative professional with over five years of experience, I have had the opportunity to serve both customers and executive directors across multiple fields. My strengths lie with digital marketing, bookkeeping, and customer service."
  • "A motivated child care provider with experience working with infant/toddler, pre-school, and school-age children. I have proficiency in special education, parent relations, and fundraising. I have also had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of children and parents with different backgrounds, disabilities, and languages."

These examples are excellent for highlighting the key points you want to portray. If a recruiter is skimming through over one hundred applications, then they may only take a quick glance at the summary before deciding to read further. You want to quickly show your qualifications right away to give yourself a chance.

If you decide to tailor your CV for each potential job, then the personal statement is the most essential aspect to change, as it is likely the first (and possibly only) part recruiters read. Read through a job description before changing it so that you know exactly what to highlight in your statement.

3. tread a fine, detailed line

For both your educational and experiential background, you want to be as detailed as possible without being overly detailed. This is a difficult balance to maintain but do your best. Ask yourself with every line whether or not it serves a purpose.

If you're only using one page (like most CVs), then you need to highlight what's most important, so there's no room to waste. Only add the accomplishments you are most proud of.

For education, this should include any particular courses, experience, apprenticeships or internships that are most applicable to your position. Again, don't overwhelm with detail, but if something can offer a competitive advantage, then go for it! Educational awards, certificates, online courses or advanced coursework should all be mentioned.

Also, if you add a degree to your CV, then there's no need to mention high school. However, if you have a bachelor's, master's, or PhD, you should still mention any other post-secondary courses you've completed. 

4. be careful with experience

Always boast about your work experience, but only if it's going to help you. Work experience with no applicable skills, or a job from which you left on bad terms, may harm your prospects. Instead, list relevant work experience and a brief description of your experience.

Along with each position title, add the dates (or estimates) from the start of your employment until the end. If currently employed, list "present". Underneath, offer a detailed, concise description of your employment, such as:

  • "Supervised, coached, and oversaw a department of 12 staff, coordinated schedules for multiple sites, and oversaw the XYZ project from Jan 2016 to June 2019."

Feel free to itemise these lists using bullet points, but do your best to save space on the page. During that experience, you may have also taken on some additional responsibilities, but you can save these for the interview.

If you believe that a job is going to give you a poor reference, then you may not want to include that position on your CV unless it's the only relevant experience you have. Recruiters will likely ask if they can contact previous employers.

5. add skills, certifications, and awards

Hobbies, skills, certifications, awards, achievements, and more can be mentioned on your resume, but keep them as relevant as possible. For example, a marketing professional may have skills listed on their resume like:

  • SEO content marketing
  • Social media proficiency
  • Email marketing experience
  • Graphic design
  • Video editing

This may come along with certifications, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Certified WordPress Developer
  • Facebook Blueprint Certification
  • Amazon AWS Certification

The list goes on. Any applicable certifications, awards, or coursework can be listed in this category. If you speak a second language, understand computer software, or anything else that may help you on the job, add it to the list. Once it's done, feel free to share your CV with job boards to see how it performs!

Frequently Asked CV Questions

Lastly, let's answer a few of the most common questions people ask about CVs. We understand they can be confusing for new job seekers, but it's very important to get it right!

does a CV have to be one page?

If you are 20 years into your career and you have multiple relevant positions to the job for which you are applying, then a two-page (one-page, front and back) resume is acceptable. Even then, do your best to condense your resume to one page if possible. Again, recruiters want clear and concise information so they can read all of the resumes they receive.

how often should I update my CV?

Every time you apply for a new job. If you're in a position for a long time, then we suggest updating your CV once every year to add new responsibilities, achievements, or skills that you've developed. This way, if you apply for a job in the future, you won't forget about these new developments.

do I need a CV with an application?

If you're applying for a job that asks for work experience and education on your application, you should still submit your CV if you can. This may give you more opportunities to discuss what was left out on your CV, but submit it anyway to show that you've come prepared!

Apply for your dream job.

Now that we've answered the question "what is a good CV?", you can hopefully write a professional document that stands out among your competitors. Remember to highlight your greatest skills and to keep them up to date as time passes.

Stay up to date with our latest professional advice and feel free to contact us with any questions or for help with your job search!

  • If you're ready to go with your CV now, share it with us and one of our experts will be in touch with the perfect role for you: