What To Include in Your CV (with Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 25 October 2022

Published 20 May 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.

Most employers choose candidates who qualify for the first phase of an interview based on the information they present on their CV and how they present it. Organising your CV to highlight details that employers are seeking, can help you impress them and break through in your career. When writing your CV, your format should be clear, easy to read and professional. In this article, we'll discuss what to include, formatting and tips for creating a convincing CV.

What is a CV?

A CV is a document that includes your educational, professional and personal achievements when you are applying for a job. The document shares an overview of your education, honours, scholarships, career history, projects, publications and other relevant awards. It helps the employer get an idea of who you are before they call you for an interview.

You can write your CV in three different ways, including chronological, functional or combined. Be sure to understand the format that you use to write your CV and learn how to use it and make it stand out. The document may also include your specified fieldwork' relevant interests to your profession, hobbies and references. You can also add a list of positive attributes and skills to your profile. This gives the hiring manager a better understanding of your achievements and personality.

What to include in a CV

If you are writing a CV for the first time, it should aim to include the following:

Contact information

Your full name, email address, phone number and postal address. This information briefs the employers on who you are and how they can contact you in case of an appointment.

Academic history

In this section, you must include your academic history including your educational qualifications. Ensure to include the year, name of the school and the title of your degree.

Skills

A list of soft and hard skills that you have developed during your career. You might base these skills on your education level or personal attributes.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a CV

Professional experience and professional associations

A list of places you have worked, the job title you held and the duration of your employment. You can also share a summary of your achievements and experiences during your career. Share the period you were employed and the organisation's name and location.

Related: What is work history? (With what to include)

Presentations and publications

For presentations, provide a title, venue and date of the exhibition. For publications, share a list of titles with full citations, including co-authors where applicable.

Scholarships, awards and honours

Here you should give precise details about the awards you've received, including their names, the awarding organisation and the year you received them. Give details of scholarships or grants you were awarded, the name of institutions and award dates.

Related: Where to put awards on your CV (with tips)

Certifications and licenses.

Include a list with the names of certificates and licenses you have earned. Remember to mention the date and the institutions you earned or awarded the license or certificate.

How to write a CV

Now that you know what is required in the CV, the challenge is now to write it. The way you format your CV is critical, and it affects the way people on the receiving side will view it. When formatting, there are four factors that you should put into consideration:

1. Use the right font type and size

Your CV should be easy to follow and legible. You should therefore choose an appropriate font size and type to improve readability. The most popular font types are Times New Roman, Calibre and Arial. They are simple and professional. The fonts are also easy to read, and they allow the reader to understand each word without straining to read. The font size should be within 10-12 points for better visibility.

Related: Guide: what type of paper should a CV be printed on?

2. Use the space effectively

There is no limit on the number of pages that your CV should have. If you have been in the industry for a couple of years, the list of your achievements will certainly go up, which translates to more pages in your CV. You should ensure that your resume is to utilise the space you have effectively. It would be best if you considered including the following techniques.

  • Use section headers. Distinguish the rest of your CV content with section headers by making them larger, bold, or underlined.

  • Bullet list. When writing your awards and skills, you can write them in a small bullet-pointed list.

  • Bold words. You can bold any important information such as your name, job title and any other information that emphasis your skills. Bolding such words make them stand out from the rest of the content.

Related: How to create a CV on Word (step-by-step plus tips)

If you are writing a CV with over one year of professional experience, including the hobbies section could be redundant. When you are experienced, your focus should be on showing what applies to the job application. Avoiding hobbies also helps in reducing the number of pages and maintains professionalism in your resume.

If you are writing an entry-level CV, the hobbies section might suggest a good cultural fit in the company. Your hobbies should not be generic, but about something that might add value to your application.

3. Proofread

Before sending your CV to the employers, take your time and go through it one more time. Check for grammar, syntax and spelling errors. When your CV is error-free, it shows professionalism and increases readability. A clean CV is engaging, and it allows the employer to identify your set skills and increases your chances of landing the job. By proofreading your work, you ensure your CV is comprehensive and contains credible information.

Related: 151 CV words to enhance your application (and pass the ATS)

Ways to write different resume types

Here's how to write different resume types:

Chronological

This type is the most common, and it focuses on your academic and professional achievements. In this category, the academic and professional history come immediately after the contact information. If you have been in the same industry employment, this type is the best as it displays the sequence of your professional progress as you advance in your career.

Functional

This format emphasises your awards, honours and skills, unlike the chronological format. Your relevant skills should come right after your contact information. The format permits you to allocate more space to your skills, qualifications and other relevant information and less space to professional experience.

Related: Functional CV: Tips on How To Write A Good Functional CV

Combination

The combination format is a hybrid that puts both chronological and functional formats together. It allows you to use adequate space for both professional experience, education and accomplishments and skills. The format will enable you to choose the elements you wish to place first based on relevance to the job and your career goals. For instance, if you are hoping to get a position as a gym instructor and you have spent at least three years learning physical therapy, your educational history should come first in the CV.

Related: Combination CV tips and examples (with different formats)

Tips for writing a competitive CV

Your CV is the only chance you get to impress the employer before you are set for an interview. It has to be eye-catching with credible information that introduces you perfectly. Considering there are likely to be other applicants, your focus should be to outshine them. Whether you are aiming at a high position or a junior one, your CV should go beyond your expectations.

Make your profile appear more professional

You can design your CV outline and the first part make you appear professional to attract your employer to read the contents of the CV. You can do this by including your personal information at the top, dividing your CV into sections such as the experience, education, introduction and skills sections. You may also include a professional picture you further personalise your CV.

The first part of a CV is your profile. Getting this section right might make the reader want to learn more about you. In this section, it is convenient for you to include your unique selling points to the reader.

Focus on your achievements instead of responsibilities

You might have had the greatest responsibilities in various companies, but if you don't have a host of achievements to show, your responsibilities might not be enough. Your hiring manager may want to know what you will bring on board, not what you used to do. Share your top-level summary instead of giving a long list of what you do every day. Share your input in the company, what challenged you, what you were proud of and how the company changed during your time.

Related: How to show a promotion on your CV (with examples)

Emphasis on your skills

The ability to influence internally and externally is a skill that comes with strong project and management skills. If you are seeking employment at a high level, you need to show how you can manage others and improve the face of your company.

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