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How to write the (sort of) perfect CV

Aleksandra Boruta
June 2022

In the corporate world, a CV is a must-have. It is a crucial element of the recruitment process in most companies. If written properly, your CV (or resumé) can be a powerful tool that will hoist up your career and help achieve your professional goals. We learn how to create it in school, where teachers present a typical scheme of the document in theory. Very often, it is not even practiced by students - we just move on with the material learning about how to write invitations, memos etc. When we enter the job market, things we learned about writing a CV in school are usually forgotten or out-of-date. And yet, a CV is something that can’t be forgotten when searching for a new job. Moreover, in order to be useful, it needs to be written well.

How to write a perfect CV, then? Is that even possible? Well, actually - yes and no. Based on my experience and observation, it really depends on the person that reads the document. You shouldn’t be too focused on making it “perfect” as it is really subjective. What you could focus on though is to make it brief and pertinent. 

Recruiters go through hundreds of CVs daily, while Hiring Managers receive and go through only those where the candidates are the best fit. Neither of them have time to go through endless documents containing every little detail from every job a candidate had. What really saves (a recruiter’s or HM’s) time (and space in the document), is listing the most important and relevant tasks of the most crucial previous roles. There is no need to write blocks of texts. A short list with details will definitely do the trick. For instance:

Recruitment specialist 2020-now:

  • reviewing CVs
  • posting jobs on job boards
  • screening candidates
  • scheduling meetings

If you're applying to, e.g., an entry-level job in sales/business development where contact with clients is expected, don’t be afraid to highlight tasks you had on seemingly irrelevant roles, that actually match the requirements.

A very useful section, (depending on your experience) is “Achievements.” Especially when applying for a higher-level role or a job where outcomes are connected with experience such as in Sales. The same rule applies for this section when it comes to mentioning particular successes - listing/briefly mentioning them will be a perfect way of letting readers know about them.

Another thing that can help your CV be selected is listing the skills you have that are relevant to the job description. For example, if you notice particular tools or technologies mentioned in the job description - do not hesitate to include them on your CV. The same thing applies to languages - required or not :) However it is important to state (roughly) how familiar you are with them. The best way to do it is simply write, e.g., beginner, intermediate, fluent, etc. Stars, dots, or bars that supposedly show the level of proficiency are no help in this case.

On top of that, I highly suggest creating an English version of your CV - it will definitely open a lot more doors for you. Especially when the job description itself is in English or they specifically ask you to apply with a CV written in English. You might not be considered for a job if you omit this requirement and send your CV in a different language. Other tips from me personally are not including your photo and marital status - it is not really necessary for the recruitment process. 

To sum up, a perfect CV doesn’t really exist. At least not in a strict sense of the word “perfect.” How your CV will be perceived depends mostly on the reader’s preferences (particularly a recruiter’s). My advice is - don’t stress too much about making it perfect. Remember to keep it simple - too much going on will make it difficult or even impossible to focus on the crucial aspects of your candidacy. Make sure to include the most important aspects of your experience that are in line with the job description and don’t overthink the design of the document. A CV that is pleasant to look at and can be read quickly is a real treasure that can be the key to the next step of your professional career.