For many, the act of writing a CV (Curriculum Vitae) can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips on how to get started and what to include.
The two main things that you need to pay attention to are format and content. Whether you’re a student applying to get into a University, or a fresh grad searching for your first job, there are basic rules that employers expect you to know and see reflected in your application.
Formatting – this refers to the layout and the font used in the CV. It sounds basic, but several fail to impress with a poorly formatted CV.
First, choose a font that is easy to read within the sans serif family (sans serif refers to a font that does not have the small projecting features called “serifs” at the end of strokes). Recommended fonts are Arial, Calibri and Verdana. Depending on the font you choose, the size ranges between 9- 11 points. It is recommended that you do not go below size 8, as it makes the text too small and cumbersome to read. Similarly, do not use a font size that is too big, like 12 points and above, unless you are setting this as the size for titles or headers.
Second, pay attention to justifying your text, particularly if you have lists or bullet points included. There is nothing more unprofessional or glaring as a mistake, than seeing text that runs over or is completely out of line compared to the rest of the body text.
Last but not least, consistency is key. For example, if you choose your titles / headers to be size 11 and your body text to be size 9, make sure this is applied across the board. Do not use varying typefaces – choose one and stick to it. Also, avoid having too many italics. If you would like to emphasize or highlight a point, it is better to bold or underline the sentence.
Content – what to include in your CV. Now that you have neatly formatted your CV, it is time to add substance so you can get admitted or hired.
When writing your CV, a few useful questions to ask yourself are:
What are my qualifications? Let the employer know what you majored in. List your qualifications in order from most relevant first, so you can steer the attention in the right direction. As you enter the workforce, this will evolve to include your employment history and job duties.
What have I achieved? Include only recent achievements, such as certificates, participation in major competitions or projects and other such activities. If you feel that you do not have enough, then take time to elaborate on each achievement – what was it for, what was required and how did you fare?
Why should I be hired / admitted? This should lead you to writing about your characteristics. For example, if you think you have leadership skills, give an example of a project you headed and how you displayed those skills.
Once you have the above nailed down, the only thing left is to do is to vet your work. Pick up any issues in formatting, grammar and spelling. Before you know it, you’ve got your first CV set and ready to go.
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