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There are so many questions in your head at the moment.
“How do I write a CV?”
“Is a CV the same thing as a resume?”
“Is there any way to make sure my CV gets me to the interview stage?”
And this guide has all the answers you need. Learn how to write a CV, when, and how to make it perfect—all in one place.
In this guide:
- A CV example showing how to create a CV from scratch.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to write a CV quickly and efficiently.
- Expert tips detailing how to make a CV that impresses recruiters and employers.
- How to write a curriculum vitae that stands out from the rest.
Save hours of work and get a CV like this. Pick a template, fill it in. Quick and easy. Choose from 18+ CV templates and download your CV now.
What users say about Resumelab:
I had an interview yesterday and the first thing they said on the phone was: “Wow! I love your CV.”
I love the variety of templates. Good job guys, keep up the good work!
My previous CV was really weak and I used to spend hours adjusting it in Word. Now, I can introduce any changes within minutes. Absolutely wonderful!
Writing a resume instead? Check our other articles:
- How to Write a Resume: Instructions & Facts
- General Resume Example With Writing Tips
- 20+ Things to Include in a Resume
- How to Make Your Resume Look Great: Tips & Examples
- Best Practices for Resume Writing (Survey Results)
- Your Resume Can Be Perfect: Tips to Follow
- Avoid These Resume Blunders (List + Advice)
- What's the Best Resume Format Now?
- Functional or Chronological Resume: Which Is Best?
What Is a CV?
A CV or curriculum vitae is a document that represents the candidate’s background and qualifications for a particular job. In the US, Americans apply for fellowships, grants, and postdoc positions with their academic CVs, while in Europe, CVs refer to regular job application documents.
That means there are certain differences between a CV and a resume. To sum them up:
- If you’re applying for a job at a European company, you need to write a CV; this guide is perfect for you.
- If you’re applying for a job in academia, check out this guide on how to write an academic CV.
- If you’re applying for a job in the US, write an American-style resume instead of a CV.
Now, let’s have a look at a neat example of a CV for a job:
Analytically-minded senior marketing manager with 7+ years of experience. Eager to join XYZ Corp to help manage strategy development and lead cross-functional teams. In previous roles, increased website traffic by 300% in 10 months and developed an SEO strategy that brought in 10K monthly users for the most strategic sales landing pages.
Solstice, Tucson, AZ
- Documenting and maintaining content specifications (incl. outlining content components and guidelines to ensure a consistent experience across various touchpoints).
- Partnered with IT to understand the technical implications of content and helped implement content accessibility standards.
- Cooperating with UX and designers to conceptualize high-quality, innovative digital content and ensuring the ideas came to life while staying within budget and scope
- Led A/B testing for content. Improved CRO by 28% and increased monthly traffic by 300% resulting in a $33,000 increase in monthly revenue.
Canon Inc., Tucson, AZ
Sepember 2011–December 2014
- Recommended marketing plans and activities for products and product lines to establish, enhance, and distinguish product placement. Increased the sales of production photo Inkjets by 20%.
- Conducted market research, monitored competitive activity, and identified customer needs.
- Prepared materials for internal and external presentations and communication. Delivered presentations at 10+ industry events.
- Participated in coordinating trade show activities, website development, e-commerce strategies, and tracking of marketing campaigns. Set up 10 landing pages that increased website traffic by 150%.
- Collaborated with business team members to plan, develop, and produce promotional tools. Developed a content marketing and SEO-based strategy that brought 10K monthly users to the company's key landing page.
Bachelor of Science in Marketing
University Arizona, Tucson, AZ
September 2007–June 2011
- GPA: 3.7
- Technical and creative SEO (Google Search Console, Google Analytics)
- SEM (Google AdWords, SEMRush)
- A/B Testing (VWO)
- Email marketing (Mailgun, Sendgrid, Mailchimp)
- Effective communication
- Interpersonal skills
- Certified Digital Marketing Manager, December 2021
- Google Analytics Individual Certification, June 2019
Looks professional, right? It’s time to learn how to write an equally great CV.
Here’s how to write a CV for a job application:
- Choose the right CV format.
- Get the formatting of your CV right
- List your contact information.
- Write a personal profile to introduce yourself.
- Add relevant work experience and career achievements.
- Show degrees and other qualifications in the education section.
- Select the key skills that match the job description.
- Include additional information in appropriate sections.
The whole process is pretty straightforward, but, as always, the devil is in the details. You must know what to watch out for while completing each step. And that’s why you’ll find specific guidelines for the writing process below:
1. Choose the Right CV Format
How to start a CV? By choosing the right CV format.
Reverse-Chronological CV Format
The reverse-chronological CV format is the most common one. It puts emphasis on work experience and career achievements. Its name stems from the order of jobs listed on the document—they follow the reverse-chronological order, meaning the most recent job is listed first.
The sections in this format go as follows:
- CV header
- Personal profile
- Work experience
- Additional information
As this format puts emphasis on career progression, it’s great for applicants with standard career paths.
Functional CV Format
The functional CV format focuses on the candidate’s skills instead of work history. It features an overview of the key competencies, called the skills summary, which lists achievements related to those skills. In this CV format, the work experience section is minimized—often just the position names, work periods, and company names are listed.
The functional CV format includes the following sections:
- Header with contact information
- Personal profile
- Skills summary
- Work history
- Additional skills
- Additional sections
This CV format can be a good choice for freelancers, creatives, and individuals changing careers.
Chrono-Functional CV Format
The chrono-functional CV format is also called a hybrid or combination CV. It merges the chronological and functional formats to highlight both skills and work experience. This format features a skills summary as well as a detailed work experience section.
It includes the following parts:
- CV header
- Personal profile
- Skills summary
- Work experience
- Additional skills
The chrono-functional CV is a good choice for senior-level applicants, who need to highlight certain skills that might not be expressed in the work experience section.
Career experts recommend using the reverse-chronological CV. It’s the most convenient for hiring managers and employers—and you want them on your side. This format is also the easiest to adapt for candidates of all experience levels.
2. Get the Formatting of Your CV Right
Once you’ve selected the CV format, you can move on and make a neat outline for your curriculum vitae.
Follow these steps to format your CV for a job:
- Create the layout of your CV from scratch, or pick a template to make the process easier.
- Start with the standard CV sections, such as the CV header area, profile, work experience, education section, and key skills.
- Add headings (13–14 in font size points) to indicate the beginning of each section.
- Use professional CV fonts such as Calibri, Georgia, or Helvetica, and set the size to 10–12 points.
- Set the CV margins to 1 inch on all sides to balance the text with white space.
- Limit the length of your curriculum vitae to 1 page unless you’ve got over ten years of work experience. Then you can write a two-page CV.
- Save the CV in a Doc or PDF format to make sure it looks great on all devices.
Now that you know what to put on a CV, let’s discuss each section in more detail.
3. List Your Contact Information
Before you learn how to make a CV stand out, you must ensure it serves its purpose. Adding your personal information is essential. But the type of information may vary, depending on the job, company, and country where the business is located. Around 4.8 million U.S. citizens live abroad and work remotely, so it’s pretty impossible to guess where your CV might travel.
Here are the general guidelines on how to write contact information in your CV:
- Name and surname
- Job title
- E-mail address
- Phone number
- Professional social media links, such as your LinkedIn profile
- Links to your portfolio or a website
However, you might need more in some cases. The job advertisement may ask you to include your address on the CV, especially when the headquarters are overseas.
Check the CV writing rules in the country where you intend to apply for a job. For example, in most European countries, a photograph is included in a CV, even if the job ad doesn’t request it specifically. In the US, though, you should not have a photo in your job application.
4. Write a Personal Profile for Your CV
Want to know how to write a CV that captivates the reader straight away? The CV profile is the answer—as long as it’s written well. It must be short, snappy, and powerful, like an elevator pitch or an award-winning TV commercial.
How to make a CV profile:
- Start with a strong personality trait such as “goal-oriented” or “creative.”
- Continue with your job title, qualification, or degree.
- Throw in your field of study, expertise, or impressive credentials.
- Provide a specific goal you want to achieve for the company.
- Show off a career achievement or a more general accomplishment relevant to the profession.
- CV summary is perfect for experienced candidates: mention your area of expertise and show off a major career accomplishment from previous jobs to enchant employers.
- CV objective is more suited for entry-level applicants: mention skills and knowledge relevant to position you want, and express how they are going to benefit the employer.
Check examples below:
How to Write a CV: Summary Example
When writing a CV summary, avoid focusing on what you want to get from the company. Instead, provide a specific goal that you can help it achieve. Then, back up your claims with a concrete achievement relevant to the job you’re pursuing.
CV Objective Example
Remember to not oversell your experience when writing a CV objective. It’s better to give honest and realistic examples of your achievements than to call yourself an entry-level CEO. Focus on what skills and knowledge you have and how can they fit into the role you’re pursuing.
5. Add Work Experience and Career Achievements
It’s no secret that most employers want candidates with relevant experience. Serve it on a silver plate by creating a strong work experience section.
This is how you can do it: Instead of saying what you’ve been doing over the years, say what you’ve accomplished. Hiring managers can guess responsibilities for different roles pretty well, so they don’t care much for a list of duties from your previous jobs. They’d rather see how well you performed. And for that, you need accomplishment statements on your CV.
See the difference yourself:
- Responsibility statement: Managed multiple projects.
- Achievement statement: Coordinated 6 projects involving cooperation between cross-functional teams, delivering all objectives within deadlines.
Now, let’s have a look at the examples below. This applicant wants a marketing manager position. Here are the job requirements listed in the job ad:
- Prior experience in marketing and content management
- Experience with A/B testing for marketing purposes
- Ability to collaborate and communicate effectively
- Conceptual skills
- Presentation skills
See how this sample work experience section responds to these requirements:
How to Write a CV: Example of Work Experience
The example above uses keywords from the job advertisement. It includes demonstrable achievements that prove the candidate can really do the job well.
This sample shows that keywords aren’t enough. You need to paint a bigger picture of what you accomplished if you want the work experience section to be impressive. Show the results of your work with numbers—that’s the best way to turn dull responsibility into an achievement.
How to make a CV work experience section:
- Start with the most recent position and follow the reverse-chronological order of jobs.
- List the job title, company name, and location, as well as the work period.
- Describe your work duties in bullet points. Start each with an action word and show numbers, percentages, and quantities to make it factual and prove your impact.
- Give one career achievement for each position to make an impression.
What if you’d had 10 different jobs and employers? Easy—list only the most relevant positions. If you’re applying for a marketing manager job, forget about describing your experience as a customer service agent from 8 years ago.
6. Show Your Degrees and Other Credentials
Education is an essential qualification for many jobs out there. But adding just the school's name or your degree type may not make a strong CV. Some employers may expect more, especially if you don’t have much work experience.
Here’s how to do the CV education section well:
- Start with the highest qualification you’ve obtained, such as a college degree.
- Add the name of the school and years of study.
- Provide information about your academic performance, such as GPA (if it’s higher than 3.5), impressive scholarships or awards, and relevant coursework you excelled at.
- Give examples of extracurricular activities that helped you gain valuable experience and skills.
Check the sample below:
How to Write a CV: Example of Education on a CV
The general rule is: the more work experience you have, the less you can write about your education. However, if you’re writing a CV for an entry-level position, feel free to add more information. Remember to add information about your high school if you haven’t received higher education.
One more thing—if you’re an entry-level applicant with very little or no work experience, you can put the education section on your CV right after the personal profile. This can help demonstrate relevant experience you gained while at university or at school.
7. Select the Skills for Your CV
Each job ad comes with a list of requirements. Your CV must show that your skills match these requirements perfectly. Making a targeted CV increases your chances of landing the job.
Before you start adding professional skills to your CV, consider the following:
- Your own skill set: Think of all the professional skills, soft skills, and technical skills you’ve got
- Skills expected from the perfect candidate: Scan the job advertisement and make a note of the required abilities, desired experience, and expected knowledge
Done? Great! Now it’s time to add the skills to your application.
How to make a CV skill section:
- Compare the job requirements with the abilities you’ve mastered.
- List 4–6 job-related skills that match the job posting perfectly.
- Add 2–3 interpersonal skills to show you’re easy to work with.
- Give examples of 1–2 computer skills that prove you’re living in the 21st century.
For example, if the job ad names the following desired skills: “the ability to handle a busy schedule, respond to customer queries efficiently, and negotiate with difficult customers,” remember to add time-management skills, effective communication, and conflict-resolution skills to your CV.
Check this sample CV skill section:
How to Create a CV: Skill Section Example
Remember that the skill section of your curriculum vitae is one of many places for highlighting your abilities. You should also evidence your skill set in the work experience section. You can add them to the education part, too!
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8. Include Additional Sections
If you’ve reached this point, your curriculum vitae should already include the most important information about your qualifications. But it might feel a bit basic and impersonal. How do you make your CV more memorable? No—sparkling glitter is not the way to go. What you want are the additional CV sections.
Choose from the following:
- Associations and memberships: Belonging to one can prove you’re a pro.
- Conferences: Attending them demonstrates that you want to continue learning.
- Certifications examples: Internationally-respected certifications are a great CV boost.
- Hobbies and interests: They show you’re human and allow you to show additional skills.
- Volunteer experience: It can highlight your professionalism and social awareness.
- Language proficiency: It’s especially important if you know the language of the country you wish to work in.
- Personal projects: A good way to show that you spend your free time constructively.
- Publications: Look great, not only on writers’ CVs!
Have a look at the CV sample below:
How to Write a CV: Example of Extra Sections
One thing to note: don’t overdo your curriculum vitae with extra information. 1–2 additional sections should be enough. You might add more if you have little work experience, but seasoned professionals should do the minimum, as their career achievements are more important.
Now that you know how to make a CV, you should learn another thing. Here it goes: even the most impressive curriculum vitae must be paired with a strong cover letter.
Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter generator and make your application documents pop out.
Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.
Here’s a recap of the steps you should take to write your CV:
- Start with the reverse-chronological CV format.
- List your contact information at the top of the CV.
- Write a CV profile to introduce yourself.
- Make a CV work experience section highlighting your career achievements.
- Add degrees and other qualifications to the education section.
- Mention the key skills that match the job description.
- Include extra CV sections to give more information.
Have you ever written a curriculum vitae from scratch? Is there anything else you would like to know about writing a CV? Let me know in the comments below!
About ResumeLab’s Editorial Process
At ResumeLab, quality is at the crux of our values, supporting our commitment to delivering top-notch career resources. The editorial team of career experts carefully reviews every article in accordance with editorial guidelines, ensuring the high quality and reliability of our content. We actively conduct original research, shedding light on the job market's intricacies and earning recognition from numerous influential news outlets. Our dedication to delivering expert career advice attracts millions of readers to our blog each year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV)
How to write a CV for a job application?
Writing a CV for a job application involves the following steps:
- Understand the purpose of a CV.
- Choose the best CV format.
- Include your contact information.
- Create a personal statement.
- Showcase work experience.
- Highlight your educational achievements.
- Present your key CV skills.
- Add additional sections.
- Customize the CV for the specific job.
- Proofread before you send it.
- Attach a cover letter to your CV.
How do you write a simple CV for a job application?
Writing a simple and effective CV involves providing key information about your education, work experience, skills, and other relevant details. Here is a basic guide on how to write a simple CV:
- Contact Information: Include your full name, phone number, email address
- Personal Statement: State your career goals and what you can bring to the position.
- Education: List your educational background in reverse chronological order.
- Work Experience: Detail your work experience, also in reverse chronological order. Use bullet points to highlight key accomplishments.
- Skills: Highlight your relevant job skills.
- Additional Sections (Optional): Consider adding sections like "How to write a CV with no experience?Volunteer Experience," "Projects," or "Professional Memberships" if they add value to your application.
How to write a CV with no experience?
To write an impressive CV with no experience, you should focus on expanding your education section instead of your work history. You should also add a couple of bonus sections, such as your volunteer work, known languages, certifications, or relevant hobbies & interests.
What are the 5 main things your CV must include?
An effective CV must include these five parts:
- Header with contact Information (full name, phone number, email address)
- Personal Statement or Professional Summary (Include a concise paragraph that highlights your key qualifications)
- Education (List your educational background, starting with your most recent degree)
- Work Experience (Detail your relevant work experience in reverse-chronological order)
- Skills (Highlight your key skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for)
What is the difference between a resume and a CV?
In Australia, Canada, and the US, a CV provides a comprehensive overview of your academic background, research experience, publications, and other relevant information. It is typically used in academic, research, or international contexts. Conversely, a resume concisely summarizes your skills, work experience, and qualifications tailored to a specific job or industry.
However, in the rest of the world, a CV is synonymous with the American resume.
How long should a CV be?
A CV for a job application should be up to two pages in length. Entry-level applicants should generally try to make their CV a one-page document. An academic CV, however, doesn’t follow the same rules and can be as long as you make it. Just remember only to include relevant information when writing it.
Should you write a CV by hand?
Handwritten CVs are not common in most professional settings and may not present information in a clear and organized manner. Typing your CV allows for easy editing, formatting, and sharing with potential employers.
If you’re looking to hand out physical copies of your CV, it’s still much better to type your application in a resume creation software and then print it out on specialized resume paper.