How to Build an Outstanding CV in 7 Easy Steps

Parul Saxena

Parul Saxena

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 28, 2021

The job market can be a scary place. But sitting down to write your CV (possibly after hours of procrastination), can be an even scarier proposition. 

Most candidates are aware that preparing this document involves following many different guidelines and specifications. However, it can be difficult to know which advice to follow when considering the considerable amount of CV-related content available on the internet. 

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This is why we’ve decided to compile a list of the essential steps that will help you craft the best possible CV. Are you ready to land the job of your dreams? Let’s dive in!

Seven Easy Steps to Build an Outstanding CV

1. Pick the Right Template

For those of us that aren’t designers, knowing how to format and design your CV can be one of the biggest challenges. One of the best ways to get around this obstacle is to use an online CV builder that will guide you on how to write a CV

These websites enable you to pick from comprehensive libraries of templates to ensure that your CV follows all necessary design guidelines while including all the right information. 

Recruiters spend only 7 seconds on average reading each resume they are sent. This means that the design of your document is just as important as the content within it. Not only must your CV be eye-catching and engaging, but it should be easy to digest and read.

The most commonly used CV format is reverse-chronological. This presents your work experiences first, going backwards in time and following on with education and then skills. Recruiters give the most importance to your work background, which makes this a great style to use.

Functional and combination formats focus more on skills, and should only be used for candidates that are lacking work experience to show.

2. Add Your Contact Information

This is an obvious one, but you would be surprised as to how many applicants forget to clearly include their contact information on their CV. It goes without saying, but recruiters should not have to struggle to be able to reach you.

To ensure that HR departments can easily contact you on their preferred method of communication, make sure you include as many of the possible details as possible as follows:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Home address
  • Portfolio or other relevant media links 

3. Write a Personal Statement

At the beginning of your CV, you should include a personal statement. This is also known as a personal summary or personal profile, and it should make a recruiter want to keep reading.

This portion functions as an introduction to the rest of the document, and it should concisely explain the value you’ll bring to the company in question, as well as why you want to work there.  

Make sure to keep this section to just a short paragraph, as mentioned above, clear and concise is the way to go when writing a CV. Few things put off HR professionals more than huge blocks of text. 

As Thomas Jefferson said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

4. Describe Relevant Work Experience

Now comes the most important section, your work history. This is the part of the CV that recruiters will pay the most attention to and that can often make or break your application.

Here you must remember that a CV can be seen as an advertisement or sales presentation. Only that in this case the product being sold is yourself.  This means that each section should only include relevant information that helps show the value you will bring to the job role you are applying to. 

When adding your work experience, you should not only add the job title, company name and dates of employment, but you should also describe your accomplishments during the role. 

Formulate your duties, responsibilities and achievements in a few bullet points for each position held, using the keywords from the job description and similar job ads. Inserting the right keywords is especially important to ensure your CV passes through Applicant Tracking Systems.

5. Insert Your Education

After your career background, it’s important to mention your education. If you’re an experienced worker, this can simply be listed in reverse chronological order without much description beyond noting major achievements, grades and courses followed. 

On the other hand, if you’re fairly inexperienced or new to the job market, your education history can be described more extensively and even placed in front of your work history. 

6. List Your Skills

This section of your CV is your chance to show off just how qualified you are to carry out different tasks. Skills will show your ability to perform at the necessary level for the job you’re applying to. To find the correct skills to include, it’s helpful to research sample keywords and action verbs that are expected for the type of job you’re looking for. 

There are two main types of skills you can include in your CV: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are also known as technical or professional skills, and they include role-specific abilities such as photoshop or coding languages. 

Soft skills, also known as adaptive skills, are more generic and are composed of more abstract concepts such as teamwork or leadership. It’s important to include both types of skills to present a comprehensive picture of everything you can bring to the role.  

7. Stand Out With Additional Sections

After having written all your main CV sections, you can add additional parts to create a more holistic view of your personality and capabilities. 

Here it’s important to select the sections that will enable you to put information that is relevant to the job. For example, experience in competitive sports may represent qualities that are transferable to a high-pressure job such as sales.

This is also your chance to be creative and present your more unique qualities. Use some of the following additional sections to stand out to employers: 

  • Honours and awards
  • Conferences
  • Hobbies or interests
  • Achievements
  • Languages
  • Projects

Wrapping Up

As you create your CV, make sure each section clearly portrays your value to any recruiters that will be reading. Keep your document concise, well-designed and engaging to maximise your chances of landing your ideal job. 

What do you normally find hardest when writing a CV? Share your past experience in the comments below! 

Parul Saxena
Parul Saxena is a writer and editor with experience in various genres of writing in various industries. A content creator who loves to write on the latest technologies and their impact on businesses and everyday life.

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