Your CV will only be as good as the information you provide. Be prepared for CV success with this comprehensive list.
Writing the perfect CV can be a nerve-wracking and time-consuming endeavor, especially if you’re unsure where to start or what to include in this important document. However, with a little preparation, you can ensure your final CV is the best it can possibly be.
Whether you’re planning to use a CV-writing service like TopCV or give it a go on your own, it’s important to take some time to prepare for your CV rewrite. After all, your CV will only be as good as the information with which you or your writer has to utilise.
Gather the following details before the CV-writing process begins to ensure you or your writer has all the necessary information to create a powerful CV. Then you’ll have a document that effectively tells your career narrative and markets your qualifications to help you secure your dream job.
While it may seem unnecessary to note, there are some factors to consider when listing your contact information on a CV. For example, do you plan to use a nickname or your given name on all of your job-search materials?
Choose one email address and one phone number to include on your CV. I recommend creating an email address that’s dedicated to your job-search activities and using your mobile phone number on your CV, as this allows you to control who answers the phone and when.
It is no longer necessary to list your property number and street address on your CV. If you’re searching for work within a commutable distance from your home, you need only to include your post town and/or your unit postcode at the top of your CV. In addition, don’t include your marital status, date of birth or gender, either – this personal information is no longer desired by employers.
Did you know that 93 per cent of employers will search for your online profiles before deciding if they should interview you? Save them some time and ensure they find the most appropriate profiles that will enhance your employability by including the links that matter most to your work to your CV. More likely than not, this will include your LinkedIn profile, personal website and online portfolio.
If you have avoided creating a LinkedIn profile until now, it’s time to bite the bullet. Click on the following link to learn how to write the perfect LinkedIn profile for your job search. If you’ve already created a profile on LinkedIn, update its information to match your new CV and customise your public profile URL.
If your work requires expertise in social media, you may include the links to those relevant accounts as well. Before you decide which links belong at the top of your CV, make sure the content on each of them is professional in nature, related to your work and kept current.
Remember, your online presence should complement your CV and support your job goals – not sabotage them.
Sample job vacancies
A perfect CV is carefully written with a specific job target in mind. If you haven’t already sorted out your career goals, now’s the time to do so. Use the following exercises to help clarify your goals.
Once you’ve defined your goals, search online for at least three job adverts that represent the type of position you’re targeting. The location of each job vacancy is irrelevant; for the purpose of this exercise, you need only be concerned about the job description and its requirements.
Then, copy and paste the text of each job into a Word document or Google document and highlight or bold any phrases in the listings that describe your experience and proficiencies. This will help you or your professional CV writer identify which of your qualifications should be prominently displayed throughout the CV.
Technical proficiencies and language skills
Make a list of all the tools and systems that you are comfortable using at work and are relevant to your current job search. This list should include anything from social media platforms like Twitter and Buffer to programming languages such as Java and Python.
If you’re multilingual, be sure to list each language you speak and your proficiency level (e.g. basic, proficient, native speaker, etc.). Only list a foreign language on your CV if you’d feel comfortable conversing in that language at work or during the interview process.
After reviewing the job vacancies that interest you and speaking with professionals who currently work in your desired field, you may realise that it is necessary for you to increase your proficiency in a certain skill or tool in order to improve your employability. If this is the case, take a look at sites such as edX or Coursera for free or low-cost online courses, or browse YouTube for instructional videos.
List out every job you’ve held within the past 15 years. Start with your most recent position and work your way backward. If you served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or held a board position, include this experience in your list as well. If you recently graduated from university, include your internships and any jobs you held whilst attending school. For each position, write down the following information:
Include the organisation’s name, the URL to its main website and the location where you worked for this employer.
If your job title is very specific to your organisation, include a translation of sorts in parentheses next to your official job title.
Start and end dates
Include the month and year. You or your professional CV writer may decide not to include the months when listing your dates of employment, but it’s good to have this information available in order to make an informed decision.
Describe your day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Consider the tasks you must complete or the work you must oversee each week or month in order to ensure your job gets done properly. Consider what would not be accomplished if you were to miss a few days of work.
As you’re writing down this information, keep your current job goal in mind. What elements of your previous work are most relevant to the role you’re actively pursuing? Include details such as the number of people you managed or supervised, the territories you covered, etc.
Brainstorm your work accomplishments and major contributions that have benefited each of your employers. Consider what goals you met or exceeded and if you helped your department win awards or other accolades in your field. The amount of information you provide will depend upon the length of your tenure and how applicable the job is to your current goals.
Quantify your work whenever possible; for instance, how did you help cut costs, generate sales, complete projects ahead of schedule and so forth?
If you have an existing CV, only include new details in this section. There’s no reason to repeat information that already appears in your current CV.
Earlier career history
If you’ve been in the workforce for over 15 years, chances are you have held a few jobs that got left out of the main ‘work experience’ section. For each of these positions, list the job titles you held, the names of each employer, the locations where you worked and your dates of employment. While the dates will likely not get used in your CV, it’s good to have a clear record of your earlier experiences during the CV-writing process.
Have you been actively volunteering with a non-profit organisation? Skills-based volunteering (SBV) is a great way to fill an employment gap or supplement your work history when you’re trying to change careers.
List any volunteer work you’ve done in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent volunteer opportunity. Record the name of the organisation and its website URL, the positions you held, your years of involvement and your responsibilities and contributions to the non-profit.
If you’re looking for new volunteer opportunities to help bolster your CV or fill an employment gap, visit Reach Volunteering to be matched with causes that fit your skill set.
Jot down any professional organisations of which you’re a member. For each affiliation, include its name and URL, when you became a member and any positions you’ve held. If you took an active role in the organisation, describe your responsibilities and any notable achievements.
Education, honours and credentials
Record all your education, beginning with the most recent degree you earned. List the institution, its location, the name of your degree, your area of study, your graduation year and any honours associated with the degree. In addition, write down your GSCEs and/or A-Levels from your earlier education. If the list is quite long, you may decide to only mention the subjects that are more relevant to your current job goals.
Document the same details for any relevant certifications you’ve obtained or additional training opportunities or workshops you’ve attended since graduating from university.
Have you received positive, written feedback from your supervisor, a colleague or a client? Are there any bits from your recent performance appraisal that are worth noting? While this information will likely not appear verbatim in your CV, it may help you or your CV writer shape the personal statement at the top of your CV by identifying which of your soft skills should be emphasised.
Other details to consider
If you are applying for a job in the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Africa, Israel, India, Australia, Canada or Mexico, you should not include a photo of yourself with your CV. However, if you’re applying for a job in any of the countries that make up the European Union (EU), Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, a CV photo is still considered an integral part of a job application.
You can’t write a perfect CV without a little legwork. While this preparation may seem like a lot of work, by taking the time to examine your career now, you'll see the benefits in your future CV.
Are your ready to begin your job search in earnest? Let our TopCV professional writers help you write the perfect CV to land the job.