• Featured in logo
How To Write A CV: Template, Examples, and Tips

What Is A CV?

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a job application document that outlines your job experience, education, and skills, along with any other additional information relevant to your professional goals.

Want to see what’s possible? Check out our free and premium downloadable examples to help you write your next CV for you next job!

What is the difference between a CV and a resume?

Outside the United States, a CV is generally synonymous with a resume. In these circumstances, when an employer asks for a CV, they expect a one to two-page document of relevant job qualifications. Just like a resume, the CV should be tailored to the job you are applying to.

However, in the United States, a CV refers to an academic CV, a comprehensive record of all your educational and professional experiences. This includes research projects, educational grants, certifications, and internships. These types of CVs are longer, up to ten pages, and are usually requested for academic and research positions.

CV vs. resume

Here is an easy breakdown of the differences between a CV and a resume:

CV Resume
          • Considered the same as a resume by most employers outside the U.S.
          • A comprehensive record of educational and professional experiences.
          • Up to ten pages long.
          • One to two pages long.
          • Information tailored to the job position.
          • Easy to read or scan.
          • Considered different than a CV inside the U.S.

How to Write a CV

Knowing how to write a CV begins with understanding the following key points:

1) Research the Job Description

Before you start writing your CV, carefully read the job description for the position you are applying for. Look for the key skills, qualifications, and experiences the employer is seeking. Take note of specific terms and keywords used in the job listing, as these will be important for tailoring your CV and ensuring it passes through applicant tracking systems (ATS).

2) Tailor Your CV to the Job

Customize your CV to align with the job you are applying for. Highlight your most relevant experiences and skills that match the job description. Tailoring your CV demonstrates that you have taken the time to understand the employer’s needs and shows that you are a good fit for the role.

3) Use a Clean and Professional Format

Your CV should be easy to read and visually appealing. Use a clean, professional format with clear headings and bullet points. Choose a simple, professional font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and use consistent formatting for dates, job titles, and section headings. Ensure there is enough white space to avoid clutter.

4) Highlight Relevant Experience and Skills

Focus on your most relevant experiences and skills. Use bullet points to list your key responsibilities and achievements in each role. Be specific about your contributions and the impact you made. Highlight any skills or experiences that are directly related to the job you are applying for.

5) Quantify Achievements

Whenever possible, quantify your achievements to give a clear picture of your impact. Use numbers, percentages, and specific examples to showcase your accomplishments. For example, instead of saying “improved sales,” say “increased sales by 20% within six months.”

6) Include Keywords from the Job Listing

Incorporate keywords from the job listing into your CV. Many employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen CVs, and including relevant keywords can help ensure your CV gets noticed. Use the same language and terms used in the job description to demonstrate that you meet the specific requirements of the role.

Save Time With Our CV Builder

The sooner you write your CV, the sooner you can apply for jobs. Let us help you with our CV builder designed by career experts. Just answer a few questions and our builder will auto-generate your CV in a matter of minutes!

Components of a CV

After picking the right format and template, a CV is broken down into five main sections:

          1. Contact information header.
          2. Personal profile.
          3. Work experience.
          4. Education.
          5. Skills.

If you have other relevant qualifications, such as volunteer experience or certifications, you can include them in additional sections as well.

Contact Information

The first step to writing a CV is to fill out your contact information.

It is important that your CV contact heading:

          • Stands out: Your name will want to make enough impact so the reader associates you with your skills and experience.
          • Easy to read: Have all the necessary information should a recruiter or hiring manager want to move forward with your job application.
          • Doesn’t take up too much space: This is so the reader knows who you are and how to reach you without sacrificing any space that will go towards highlighting your qualifications.

The contact heading of a CV contains your:

          • Full name.
          • Phone number.
          • Professional email address.
          • Location (city and state/country).
          • LinkedIn profile or other professional social media links (optional)

 

Here is an example of a CV contact information header:

Alicia Smith

(+1) 555-555-5555 – alicia.smith@fakemail.com – New York, NY

Personal rofile: CV summary or Objective

The next step of your CV is to write your personal profile.

This is a brief description, between one to three sentences long, that pitches you as the best candidate for the position.

There are two types of a CV personal profile:

          • CV summary: A CV summary showcases specific skills and experience that make you qualified, such as a number of years in a certain industry or past achievements.
          • CV objective statement: A CV objective statement focuses on why you are applying and will mention any current skills, education, or other experiences that qualify you.

Although both are acceptable, it is recommended that you write a CV summary if possible. This is because provides evidence to your qualifications, which is something many recruiters and hiring managers prefer to see.

However, if you are a recent graduate, changing careers, or simply lack experience, then a CV objective statement is a good way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job.

Here is a good example of a CV summary:

Certified registered nurse, with over 7 years of experience, including intensive care and emergency room services. I want to apply my skills in critical thinking, empathy, and time management to new opportunities within pediatric care.

And here is a good example of a CV objective statement:

Recent MBA graduate with honors from the Business Administration department at Stanford University. Seeking to expand my skills in data management and marketing analytics in the field of financial data services.

Work Experience

In the work experience section of your CV, you will detail your job history and use your past as proof of why you are the best candidate for the position.

The work experience section of your CV is normally written in reverse chronological order, which means you start with your most recent position and work backward from there.

Under each experience, you will list:

          • Job title or position.
          • Name of employer.
          • Location.
          • Dates of employment.
          • 3 to 6 bullet points of responsibilities and achievements.

You must stand out with your work experience. Therefore, there are three key points you want to consider:

          • Use action verbs: Action verbs add strength to your words and make them easier to read. Avoid generic or cliche verbs. Instead, pick ones that empathize with your actions. Note that some of these verbs may be found in the job description.
          • Include buzzwords from the job description: Recruiters and hiring managers are more interested in applicants who match the skills and experience found in the job description. Use these keywords to identify your qualifications clearly. This has the added benefit of making your CV friendly with applicant tracking systems (ATS) which will filter for candidates who meet pre-determined criteria, such as skills and experiences in the job description.
          • Provide quantifiable achievements: Probably the best thing you can do for your CV work experience section is to demonstrate your value as a past and prospective employee. A recruiter or hiring manager will pay attention to you more if you can provide evidence that backs up your skills. Don’t just list your responsibilities, but show how your actions resulted in specific metrics that brought success.

When writing your work experience, do your best to provide clear, concise detail.

You need to find the right balance between giving the reader enough context to understand your qualifications without cluttering your CV.

Accomplish this by ensuring every bullet point contains relevant information.

Here is a good example of the CV work experience section:

Branch Manager

Worldwide Banking Corp.

Washington D.C.

2/2020 to present

          • Implemented a new marketing policy that increased client retention by 75% and generated additional revenue of $5 million in 2022.
          • Brokered deal with 15 local businesses to diversify bond holdings worth up to $1 million.
          • Developed a 6-month data analytics strategy that increased branch efficiency by 25%.
          • Organized weekly employee feedback program to increase engagement and retention.

Financial Services Consultant

Banktech Inc.

New York, NY

6/2015 to 2/2020

          • Led a team of 8 employees in a fast-paced financial campaign to increase over 100 portfolios by 15% in 2018.
          • Conducted internal research on organizational strategies that resulted in reducing expenses by 10% over a 12-month period.
          • Diversified bonds of 25 clients to encourage rapid growth of 25% in the Q4 of 2016.

Education

In the education section of your CV, you will want to write down your highest level of education. This could be a high school, undergraduate, or graduate degree.

Make sure to list the following:

          • Name of the institution.
          • Location (city, state/country).
          • Type of degree.
          • Area of focus.
          • Years attended or graduated (optional)
          • Honors (optional)
          • Relevant coursework or projects (optional)
          • GPA (if notable)

The education section should be quite brief for most applicants with several years of job experience.

However, if you are a recent graduate, you may want to include any academic information that helps solidify your qualifications, such as relevant coursework.

Here is an example of the education section of a CV:

B.A. History

Harvard University

Magna Cum Laude

9/2014 to 5/2019

Skills

Use this section of your CV to showcase your skills further. The job description of your application will likely include a combination of two types of skills:

          • Hard skills: Hard skills are measurable and relate to specific tasks. They are generally technical and come with certain types of job experiences. Examples include knowledge of certain programming languages, project management software, or certified procedures.
          • Soft skills: Soft skills reflect your interpersonal skills, including how you work with others and your work ethic. Soft skills are transferable between professions. Examples include communication, time management, and empathy.

When you choose which of your skills to list, focus on the ones that the job description asks for. List between six to ten skills that help you tailor your CV.

Here is a good example of a CV skills section:

Hard skills:

          • Python, Ruby, and R programming languages
          • Salesforce
          • Service Now
          • Adobe Suite

Soft skills:

          • Delegation
          • Project management

Additional information

Sometimes you may need to include additional sections to your CV to showcase your qualifications better. Such sections include:

          • Awards.
          • Certifications.
          • Volunteer work.
          • Research projects and publications.
          • Conferences attended.
          • Relevant hobbies.

Only add additional sections if you can justify their relevance. Otherwise, any information should be placed in the work experience section or skills section of your CV.

These steps are key to writing an effective CV. Make sure to take your time with each section to showcase your qualifications!

CV Format Tips

Writing a good CV means understanding proper formatting. Consider the following tips when you write your CV:

  • Keep your CV one to two pages long, unless otherwise requested.

  • Use one-inch margins and single to 1.15 spacings.

  • Use a professional font typeface such as Arial or Times New Roman.

  • Use 14 to 16-point font for headings, and 11 to 12-point font for normal text.

  • Be consistent with font and format throughout your CV.

  • Don’t use graphics or photos.

  • Be able to save as a PDF and DOC file.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

          • Overloading with Information: Avoid including too much information in your CV. Keep it concise and focused on your most relevant experiences and skills. Aim for a CV that is no longer than two pages. Too much information can overwhelm the reader and obscure your key qualifications.
          • Using Unprofessional Fonts or Formats: Choose a professional font and format for your CV. Avoid using flashy fonts, colors, or designs that can distract from the content. Stick to a simple, clean layout that is easy to read and looks professional.
          • Including Irrelevant Information: Only include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Avoid listing unrelated hobbies, outdated skills, or personal details such as your age, marital status, or social security number. Focus on experiences and skills that demonstrate your suitability for the role.
          • Grammatical and Spelling Errors: Proofread your CV carefully to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Mistakes can make a negative impression and suggest a lack of attention to detail. Use spell-check tools and consider asking a friend or colleague to review your CV before you submit it.

Skills to Include on Your CV

Since showcasing your skills effectively plays a big part of a successful CV, lets take a further look about how you can present them.

Explanation of Hard Skills and Soft Skills

As already mentioned, hard skills are specific, teachable abilities or knowledge sets that are often quantifiable. These include technical skills such as software proficiency, general computer skills, foreign language fluency, or data analysis. They are typically learned through education or training and are directly related to job functions.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal or people skills that are harder to measure but are equally important in the workplace. These include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. Soft skills are generally developed through life experiences and interactions with others.

Importance of Balancing Both in Your CV

Balancing both hard and soft skills in your CV is crucial because it demonstrates that you possess not only the technical capabilities required for the job but also the interpersonal skills needed to work effectively in a team and adapt to various situations.

Employers look for candidates who can not only perform the job but also contribute positively to the workplace culture.

Examples of Good Skills to Include on a CV

Technical Skills (e.g., Software Proficiency, Data Analysis):

          • Software Proficiency: Expertise in specific software relevant to your field, such as Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, or industry-specific software like AutoCAD or SAP.
          • Data Analysis: Ability to collect, process, and interpret data to make informed business decisions. Proficiency in tools such as Excel, SQL, or Tableau can be highlighted.

Communication Skills:

          • Verbal Communication: Ability to convey information clearly and effectively in meetings, presentations, and one-on-one conversations.
          • Written Communication: Proficiency in writing reports, emails, and documentation that are clear, concise, and free of errors.

Leadership and Management Skills:

          • Team Leadership: Experience in leading teams, providing direction, and motivating team members to achieve goals.
          • Project Management: Skills in planning, executing, and closing projects successfully, including the use of project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Microsoft Project.

Problem-Solving Skills:

          • Analytical Thinking: Ability to analyze problems, identify root causes, and develop effective solutions.
          • Creativity: Innovative thinking to approach problems in new ways and find unique solutions.

Teamwork and Collaboration Skills:

          • Collaboration: Ability to work effectively with others, including colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, to achieve common goals.
          • Conflict Resolution: Skills in resolving conflicts and maintaining positive working relationships.

Adaptability and Flexibility:

          • Adaptability: Willingness and ability to adjust to new conditions, learn new skills, and take on different roles as needed.
          • Flexibility: Openness to varied work environments and changing job requirements.

How to Showcase Skills Effectively

Do your best to list your skills on your CV by considering the following tips:

          • Using Bullet Points for Clarity: Use bullet points to list your skills in a clear and organized manner. This makes it easy for hiring managers to quickly identify your key strengths.
          • Providing Examples of How Skills Were Used in Previous Roles: Whenever possible, provide specific examples of how you applied your skills in previous roles. For instance, instead of just listing “leadership skills,” you could write, “Led a team of 10 employees to successfully complete a project ahead of schedule, resulting in a 15% increase in productivity.”
          • Aligning Skills with Job Requirements: Tailor your skills section to match the job description. Highlight the skills that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Use keywords from the job listing to ensure your CV passes through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and catches the attention of hiring managers.

Key Takeaways

          • A CV includes sections for contact information, personal profile, work experience, education and skills.
          • Additional sections can be added if relevant to the job position.
          • Unless otherwise stated, keep your CV between one to two pages long.
          • Outside the United States, a CV is treated the same as a resume.
Pro Tip:

Tailor your CV with keywords found in the job description. This will make your CV ATS-friendly and have a greater impact on the reader.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) FAQ

Updated: June 04, 2024

When writing a CV with no job experience, you will need to focus on three key aspects:

  • Education.

  • Extracurricular, volunteer, and unpaid experiences.

  • Skills.

Use each of these sections to make your CV stand out and give weight to your qualifications. Your education, extracurricular, volunteer, and unpaid work experiences all provide you the opportunities to demonstrate the skills you have learned and how you have already put them to use. 

The sections of a CV are:

  • Personal contact information.

  • Personal profile (CV summary or objective statement).

  • Work experience.

  • Education.

  • Skills

You can add other additional sections if the information is relevant to your job application, such as:

  • Awards.

  • Certifications.

  • Trainings.

  • Conferences attended.

  • Volunteer experience.

  • Hobbies.

In any country other than the United States, an employer will likely treat a resume and a CV as the same thing. Only when an employer specifies a traditional academic CV, which is much longer and more detailed, will you know that they prefer a CV over a resume.

An example of a CV statement can either be for a CV summary or a CV objective statement. 

If it’s a CV summary, then it will focus on how past experiences make you qualified for the job. 

Here is an example of a CV summary:

Certified registered nurse with over 7 years of experience, including intensive care and emergency room services. I want to apply my skills in critical thinking, empathy, and time management to new opportunities within pediatric care.”

If you are writing a CV objective statement, then you will focus on your goals and the reasons why you want your next job. Here is an example of a CV objective statement:

“Recent MBA graduate with honors in from the Business Administration department at Stanford University. Seeking to expand my skills in data management and marketing analytics into the field of financial data services.”

In either case, make sure you demonstrate the value you bring as a potential employee. 

Most CVs are one to two pages long unless it is an academic CV for an academic or research position, in which case your CV can be up to ten pages long. This is because these types of CVs are a comprehensive record of your academic and professional experiences.

Yes, it is strongly recommended that you use a template or example to help you write your CV. A CV template or example will help ensure your CV is formatted and structured correctly. This will mean that hiring managers, recruiters and applicant tracking systems (ATS) can easily read your CV and not be turned away by any unprofessional errors.

Our amazing collection of free and premium CV templates and CV examples is a great place to help you get started!

RATE OUR TEMPLATES

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Content Writer

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for Hloom.com. He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

popup image
popup-image
popup-image