And the most important sections of a CV are…
There are a number of compulsory sections and elements that every interview-winning CV should contain. Use the checklists below to see if your CV has all the required components and you’ll have the foundation in place to build an effective CV.
Sections are the compulsory subheadings of a CV. When writing the content for each section of your CV, it’s a great idea to have a job description and person specification to hand, because you will be able to gauge the employer’s tone and use the keywords and skills (that apply to your skills and experience) to form your CV’s sentences. At the very least, you should refer to the job advert or employer’s website for your reconnaissance.
- Name – I recommend putting your first and last name at the top of your CV in bold text. Use a widely available font: Times New Roman, or Calibri works just fine. The main body of my CV is also standard Times New Roman or Calibri.
- Profile – Written immediately beneath your name, the Profile should be no longer than two sentences and provide the reader with a succinct pen picture of you as a professional. Try to include an example of at least one skill and one achievement to immediately grab the reader’s attention.
- Achievements – Some of the most powerful CVs have an independent section – within the top third – dedicated to Achievements. The first third of the CV is a prime spot that employers and recruiters will inevitably look at in the first few seconds of reading a new CV, and they are more likely to want to read on if they see something that matches their specification. I strongly recommend using this tactic, because employers and recruiters don’t want to have to go looking for them. In the CVs I write and design, I certainly prefer to use a dedicated Achievements section, and I’d usually place five to six bullet-pointed sentences beneath the profile so that they appear in the first third of the CV. In the event that you don’t have a dedicated Achievements section, you will need to include them within the Career History.
- Skills (skills-based CV) – Your CV will inevitably showcase skills that you have developed during your career. But it is the way in which you present and relay those skills to the reader that can make your CV stand out from others on the long list. Have a look at ‘how to sell your skills in writing to create a positive tone’ and I will give you some really powerful tips on how to identify and sell your skills to create a real buzz about your job application amongst recruiters and employers. But for the time being, I just want to reiterate an earlier piece of advice – that I’ll probably repeat a couple more times before the end of this eBook – which is that you really should have the job description to hand so that you can see which skills are listed in the person specification. The employer often prioritises skills by putting the most important at the top of the list, or putting an ‘E’ (which stands for essential) next to skills that are a prerequisite for the role. If (and only if) you have the essential skills required for the job, then you must sell them somewhere on your CV. Your sentences should ideally reflect the tone and use the same or similar words as the employer. The interview-winning CVs that I write have a bullet-pointed list of five to six essential or closely related skills within the first third of the CV, which entices the reader to want to find out more about the applicant and means that they stand out from their fellow applicants.