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How to prepare a good and innovative CV

Your CV, short for curriculum vitae, is a personal marketing document used to sell yourself to prospective employers. It should tell them about you, your professional history and your skills, abilities and achievements. Ultimately, it should highlight why you’re the best person for the job.

A CV is required when applying for a job. In addition to your CV, employers may also require a letter of intent and a completed application form. Although the structure of a CV is flexible, there are particular sections that employers expect to see on your CV:

Name, professional title and contact details                    

The first part of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should contain your name, professional title and contact details. Under no circumstances should you title your CV with ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘CV’ as it’s a waste of valuable space. Treat your name as the title instead.

Here is an example of how your name, professional title and contact details might look:

Personal profile

A personal profile, also known as a personal statement, career objective and professional profile, is one of the most important aspects of your CV. It’s a short paragraph that is just underneath your contact details giving prospective employers an overview of who you are and what you’re all about. To make the most of this section, you should try to address the following:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you offer the company?
  • What are your career goals?

Experience and employment history    

Your employment history section gives you a chance to outline your previous jobs, internships and work experience. List your experience in reverse chronological order as your recent role is the most relevant to the employer.

When listing each position of employment, state your job title, the employer, the dates you worked and a line that summarizes the role. Then bullet point your key responsibilities, skills and achievements, and bolster each point with powerful verbs and figures to support each claim and showcase your impact.    It helps to choose the duties most relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it’s a long list.

Example:

Education and qualifications

Like your experience section, your education should be listed in reverse chronological order. Include the name of the institutions and the dates you were there, followed by the qualifications and grades you achieved. If you have recently left education, you may write your degree, A-levels or GCSEs (or equivalents) like so:

Skills

If you’re writing a functional CV, or have some abilities you want to show off to the employer immediately, insert a key skills section underneath your personal profile. You should aim to detail four to five abilities at most (ex. Working in Photoshop, organisational skills).

Language competences

Knowing a foreign language represents a very important advantage, especially when applying for a job. If you have certificates that show your language level even better. Certification makes you stand out from other applicants and increases your CV’s visibility.

Formatting and spacing guidelines

If you’re unsure of how to format your CV, it’s worth downloading a few CV templates to familiarize yourself. After all, formatting and spacing your CV is equally as important as the content. Here are some formatting and spacing tips to bear in mind:

Length: The usual length of a CV is two pages. However, one size doesn’t fit all, and so for some professionals, one or three pages may be more appropriate.

Headings: Each section must be introduced by a big, bold heading to ensure an easy read.

Font type: Most employers will receive your CV in a digital format, so choose a clear font like Calibri or Arial. You can use a different font type for your headings, but keep it professional and easy-to-read too.

Font size and page margins

The body of your CV should be between 10 and 12 point font, and your headings between 14 and 18 points. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, but never reduce them to less than 1.27cm or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.

Useful Information

The age, date of birth and marital status are recommended not to be included in the CV. Being requested by the employer this kind of information can be considered a source of discrimination so it is your right not to tell.

For any further requirements it is useful to search before on the internet the rules of the specific country where you apply (eg. in UK it is not recommended to put a photo of you in the CV)

Europass CV

Europass is a European Union model for curriculum vitae that can be made directly online. Its objective is to increase transparency of qualification and mobility of citizens in Europe. It aims to make a person´s skills and qualifications clearly understood in all the countries that belong to the European Union, European Economic Area and EU candidate countries.

There are five Europass documents: Curriculum Vitae, Language Passport, Europass Mobility, Certificate Supplement and Diploma Supplement. All of them share a common brand name and logo.

Since 2012, people  can assemble all Europass documents in the European Skills Passport.

Exercise: By accessing this link you will be able to create online this kind of CV, following the standard structure.

https://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/editors/en/cv/compose