How to Produce a CV

By Contributing Writer
...
Lyle Skains

Your curriculum vitae (CV or resume) is your first chance to impress potential employers. It's not just a list of jobs and accomplishments; your CV is YOU, on paper.Employers have to weed through stacks of CVs, especially for the great jobs. When it comes right down to it, they're looking for any excuse to shrink that pile of CVs: confusing formats, generic templates, typos, mistakes. Rise to the top of the prospect pile by producing a shining, well-formatted, directed CV.

Determine what type of CV you need to submit. If you are new to the workforce, a recent graduate, or changing careers, you want to create an Archival CV. Archival CVs organize your CV in chronological order according to your education and work experience. These are good for entry-level jobs.If you are an experienced professional looking to show off your accomplishments, you want to produce a Functional CV. Functional CVs organize your CV to highlight your talents, skills, and accomplishments, not necessarily in chronological order. They are also useful if you have gaps in your employment record.

Create a simple but professional letterhead

Create a letterhead. This simply means setting off your name, address, phone, email, and website (if applicable to the position) at the top of the CV. Your name should be in a format that stands out. The formatting is up to you—choose a font, bolding, all caps, etc., that reflect your professional persona. Remember, though, to keep it professional and highly legible; stay away from cutesy fonts and fancy lines or images.

Use Section 2: The Archival CV to produce the rest of your CV if you are new to the workforce or career you are applying for. If you already have experience in your field, skip to Section 3: The Functional CV.

State your Career Objective. What is your career goal? Be careful not to make it too narrow, as it may eliminate you from jobs. For example, "Seeking a career as a body molding engineer at Ford Motor Company" will preclude you not only from other automobile makers, but from other engineering positions within Ford.Being too broad can work against you, too. "Seeking a job with cars" is all over the place—are you a mechanic? A driver? An upholsterer?"Seeking a career as a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry" strikes the right balance.

List your Education in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent degree or certification first, then move down the list to end with your high school diploma. Note the school or institution, your major, degree or certification earned, and the date you earned it. You might also list your GPA if it is significant.If you do not have a higher education, list seminars, certifications, and relevant classes you have taken.Only include your GPA on your CV if you have a B-average or higher. If your GPA for your major coursework is higher, state that GPA.

List your Related Work Experience in reverse chronological order. Include the job title, company name, location, and the dates you worked there. This section is the place on your CV for jobs, internships, and co-ops that are relevant to the position you are applying forFor each position on your CV, write a brief description of your duties, no longer than three lines. Use action words, and emphasize the skills or valuable experience you gained. Stick to short verb phrases rather than complete sentences.An example:Assistant Manager, Denny's Restaurant, Albuquerque, NMJune 2006 to May 2007Managed daily employee concerns and schedules, organized tables, liaised between waitstaff and kitchen staff. Gained personnel management skills.The key verbs here are: managed, organized, liaised. Find action verbs that reflect your personal skills, and highlight them on your CV.

List Other Work Experience you have had that is not relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for an engineering job, your stint as a dogwalker may not be relevant. You still want them on your CV, however, to show your history as a hard worker.Include the job title, company name, location, and the dates you worked there. You do not have to include the description for jobs in this section. List them in reverse chronological order.

List any job relevant Skills you may have. This includes ability with computer programs or database systems, experience with any machinery involved with the job, and personal strengths that may contribute to your ability to do a job. Examples are: computer, software, programming, bookkeeping, leadership, communication, etc.

List any Awards and Activities you have earned or participated in. Scholarships, clubs, fraternities, volunteer work and community service all fall into this section of your CV.

List your References. If you are pressed for space, "Available Upon Request" is acceptable. Be sure to prepare a document to give upon request, with names and contacts of references.Include the name, title, company, address, phone number, and email address for all your references. Do not list someone as a reference unless you have cleared it with them first.

Ensure your CV has a pleasing, easy to read design that highlights the important aspects of your career. Go on to Section 4: Designing Your CV.

State your Career Summary, a brief description of your career so far. An example:"I have over 15 years’ experience managing medical professionals. My specialty is ensuring large volume hospitals run efficiently for the patients’ benefit on a day-to-day basis."Be sure to highlight your strengths, showing your potential employer what you can offer.

List your Related Work Experience in order of significance. The jobs that are most relevant to your career and skills should appear at the top of this section, working down to the least relevant. Include the job title, company name, location, and the dates you worked there. For each position on your CV, write a brief description of your duties, no longer than three lines. Use action words, and emphasize the skills or valuable experience you gained. Stick to short verb phrases rather than complete sentences.An example:Sales Force Coordinator, P&E Corp., Redondo Beach, CAJune 2000-September 2006Created sales proposals for an international sales force. Organized proposal teams, coordinated financial offerings, and communicated with clients. Gained experience in high pressure sales and meeting tight deadlines.The key verbs here are: created, organized, coordinated, communicated. Find action verbs that reflect your personal skills, and highlight them on your CV.

List your Education in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent degree or certification first, then move down the list to end with your high school diploma. Note the school or institution, your major, degree or certification earned, and the date you earned it. You might also list your GPA if it is significant.If you do not have a higher education, list seminars, certifications, and relevant classes you have taken.Only include your GPA on your CV if you have a B-average or higher. If your GPA for your major coursework is higher, state that GPA.

List any job relevant Skills you may have. This includes ability with computer programs or database systems, experience with any machinery involved with the job, and personal strengths that may contribute to your ability to do a job. Examples are: computer, software, programming, bookkeeping, leadership, communication, etc.

List any Awards and Activities you have earned or participated in. Scholarships, clubs, fraternities, volunteer work and community service all fall into this section of your CV.

List your References. If you are pressed for space, "Available Upon Request" is acceptable. Be sure to prepare a document to give upon request, with names and contacts of references.Include the name, title, company, address, phone number, and email address for all your references. Do not list someone as a reference unless you have cleared it with them first.

Ensure your CV has a pleasing, easy to read design that highlights the important aspects of your career. Go on to Section 4: Designing Your CV.

A well-balanced CV using contrast and alignment to highlight key information.

Use a legible clear font on quality paper. Serif fonts like Times New Roman are easier to read on paper, whereas sans serif fonts like Arial are easier to read on a computer monitor.

Fit your CV onto one page. A few very experienced professionals with a long list of relevant work experience may have more than one page, but most CVs can be formatted to fit one page. Remember, this is your first impression; don't make your future boss hunt for your skills across several pages. Offer it all at a glance.

Balance the page. When you look at the printed resume, text should balance vertically and horizontally on the page, offering a symmetrical image. It should not be weighted heavily to the top of the page, or to one side. Space out the information for a pleasing page.

Align different levels of information with indentation. Section headings like "Education" might be aligned all the way left, while your job descriptions might be indented half an inch. This helps your potential employer to easily see the organization in your CV, and to access key information.

Group related information by using white space to carve quickly identifiable sections. Add a line space between each section, each job, so that each can be easily read without straining the eye.

Be consistent throughout your CV. The fonts, sizes, alignment, and styles in different sections should be the same for each level of information. I.e., each header should be the same font, size, and style; each description should be the same style and indentation.This helps you to look more professional, and shows you care about your presentation.

Use contrasting styles to help important information stand out. Using bolded and contrasting fonts for section headers and job titles on your CV help potential employers to find important information in a glance.

Tip

Don't list your personal website in the contact information unless it is relevant to the position or your career. Potential employers don't want to see your family vacation photos. Read over your CV carefully to remove any typos or inconsistencies. If you can, create a PDF of your CV to submit for electronic applications, to preserve your formatting. Keep a copy of a text-only, format-free CV to paste into the body of emails should the job application require it. Print your CV on quality paper with a quality printer for the best presentation possible.

About the Author

This article was written by the CareerTrend team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about CareerTrend, contact us.