What to Include in a CV (With Tips to Help You Write One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 27, 2022 | Published November 5, 2021

Updated November 27, 2022

Published November 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: How to Write a CV for a Job Application: Step by Step Guide

Most organizations require candidates to submit a CV or resume as part of their application processes. A CV contains an overview of the candidate's qualifications and education experience. Understanding what to include in a CV can help you create a more effective application document and increase your chances of getting invited to interview. In this article, we discuss relevant details to include in your CV and outline additional tips to help you create your own.

What to include in a CV

Here's a list of elements to help you understand what to include in a CV for better results:

Header

The header is the first part of your CV, containing details which the hiring manager can use to identify and contact you. Essential details for your header include your full name, phone number, email address, and the city and province where you reside. You may include links to your social media pages, online portfolio, or personal website, if applicable. When making your header, you can exclude details like your age, home address, work contact information, and picture.

Related: What to Avoid and Include on a Resume

Summary or profile

Your summary or profile is a brief introduction at the beginning of your CV, where you can highlight your career goals and qualifications. The two major types of profiles are professional summaries and objective statements. Professional summaries are brief paragraphs, usually not exceeding three or four sentences. The purpose of a professional summary is to highlight your best qualifications, so they are ideal for mid and senior-level candidates. In contrast, objective statements prioritize your career goals, making them ideal for entry-level candidates.

Related: Guide to Writing a Professional CV (With Steps)

Work experience

The work experience section is one of the most important parts of a CV. It contains details on your employment history, including the types of tasks you've performed and your achievements. As a result, many hiring managers focus on the work experience section to assess a candidate's competence. You can include your job title, the name and location of your employer, and your period of employment. Ensure you include between four and six bullet points discussing your accomplishments and duties under that employer. In addition, use measurable terms like percentages to quantify your accomplishments.

For an effective CV, avoid including details on short employment experiences, as that uses space. Review the tenses used and ensure you're using past tense for previous roles. Any gaps in your employment history don't require an explanation.

Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience

Education

The education section of your CV is equally important, especially if you're applying for a role that requires formal education. The appropriate way to write this section depends on your career level. Mid and senior-level candidates can include all postsecondary education by including the name of their degree, the name and location of their institution, and their year of graduation. For entry-level candidates, you can include additional details like your CGPA, honours, relevant academic courses or projects, extracurricular activities, and dissertation title, if relevant.

Skills

The skills section is the last section to include on your CV and contains your technical and soft skills relevant to the role. Depending on the role and how much space you have, you can include between four and 10 relevant skills. In addition, you may provide additional details on your skills, like your proficiency level and examples of how you have used them.

Additional sections

There are a few additional sections that you can consider including on your CV, including:

Certifications

Certifications are documents that professional bodies and other authorities issue to certify competence in a specific area. You can include certifications on your CV to demonstrate competence to the hiring manager, especially if you're applying for a skill-based role. Remember to include the name of the certification, the issuing authority, and either the expiry date of the certification or when you received it.

Related: How to List Your Certifications on a Resume

Professional memberships

Professional organizations are associations consisting of professionals within the same industry, role, or specialty. These organizations develop the profession while protecting the interests of their members. In addition, professional organizations are great for networking and providing access to professional development opportunities. Including your professional memberships on your CV can demonstrate a commitment to learning and growth.

Volunteer activities

Volunteering is the act of giving your time to a particular cause to serve the community. Including your volunteer activities on your CV is a great way to demonstrate your passion and values. Doing so can help you prove that you're a good fit for the company's corporate culture, and give you an advantage over other candidates.

Multiple languages

Candidates applying to multinational companies or those with diverse clients can benefit from including additional languages on their CVs. Doing so can prove that you're better suited to interact with customers. When including any additional languages, remember to include your proficiency level.

Hobbies

Including hobbies on your CV is an effective way to make it more personal. It can also help you prove you're a good fit for the corporate culture, which can improve your chances of getting hired. When listing your hobbies, try to be specific and unique for better results.

Awards

Awards are items or recognition which individuals get for outstanding performance in their work. Including awards on your CV is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise. When listing your awards, ensure you mention the issuing party and reason for receiving the award.

Tips for writing a CV

Here are some additional tips you can consider when writing a CV:

Be brief

Most hiring managers review many CVs for a role, so they're unlikely to spend much time on each. To help ensure the hiring manager reviews your CV thoroughly, be sure to keep it brief. You can prioritize your most relevant qualifications and experiences to help keep your document concise. Removing repetitive or redundant information can help ensure you present the information most likely to impress the employer.

Use proper formatting

Proper formatting makes it easier for the hiring manager to read your CV and can portray professionalism. For your font, ensure you use a style and size that's legible. Standard fonts like Calibri, Open Sans, and Georgia are legible and formal. Consider a font size of 10 to 12, depending on your CV's content. Ensure your margins are uniform on all sides. You can consider formatting tools like bulleted lists, bold, and italics to help make your CV more organized. Ensure there's ample space between each section to help with organization.

Related: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

Include only relevant details

You have limited space on your CV, so it's essential that all the details are relevant to the role. Prioritize direct qualifications, experiences, and skills that directly apply to the role. If you have few direct experiences, you can include indirect experience where you learned transferrable skills. For example, a candidate applying for a marketing role may include previous employment as a customer service representative.

Use power words

Power words or action words are verbs you can use on your CV to communicate action. These words are a great way to demonstrate your skills and make your CV sound more confident. They help your achievements appear unique, making them easier for the hiring manager to appreciate. You can use CV power words in your summary and work experience sections to help them be more effective. Examples of power words include:

  • achieved

  • accomplished

  • coordinated

  • delivered

  • developed

  • designed

  • directed

  • ensured

  • encouraged

  • improved

  • produced

  • supervised

  • oversaw

Use a clear structure

A clear structure makes your CV easier to read and understand. It also helps the hiring manager identify relevant details easily. To structure your CV properly, ensure you include your qualifications in order, starting with the most recent. This helps the hiring manager see your current skill set when they review your document. In addition, ensure you arrange your sections appropriately. The appropriate arrangement may vary depending on your situation. Here are some examples:

Structure for a regular CV

Here's a structure for a regular CV:

  • contact information or header

  • summary or profile

  • work experience

  • certifications and professional memberships

  • education

  • skills

  • additional sections

Structure for candidates with little or no experience

Here's a structure for a candidate with minimal experience:

  • header

  • objective statement

  • education

  • work experience, including internships and volunteer activities

  • skills

  • additional sections

Structure for a candidate looking to change careers

Here's a structure for a candidate that intends to change careers:

  • header

  • objective statement

  • relevant experience

  • indirect or transferrable experience

  • certifications

  • education

  • skills

  • additional sections


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