A functional CV: a blessing and a curse. A skills-based CV, as it’s often referred to, can do more damage than good unless you know exactly when to use it, and what for.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to start a CV.
Why is knowing how to begin a CV so forehead-sweating tough?
Because it’s so important.
It’s your dream job. It’s your ticket to a better life.
You can’t botch it.
That’s why you fill your trash can with false-starts. It’s why you pulled out half your hair.
You’re just starting in the wrong place. Let’s make it easy.
In this guide:
- A step-by-step process for how to start a CV for a job.
- How to begin a CV so you get it done fast.
- How to start writing a CV in the middle so there’s zero stress.
- How to start off a CV so employers notice you.
Create a job-winning CV with little effort. Hack your way through ATS software with our 18 beautiful templates—give our builder a try!
Create my CV now
Want to know the quickest way to start off a CV? Use templates. See these to start and finish lightning-fast: CV Examples for All Professions
And if you’re looking for a guide that will explain all the intricacies of writing a CV, try: CV 101—How to Write a CV [Templates and 25+ Examples]
Now here’s how to start a CV that works:
1. Copy-Paste the Online Job Ad
How to begin a CV?
Like an archer, you need a target.
Your target is the online job description.
You can’t scattershot a CV. Shotgun-blasting the same CV at every job gets silence. Crickets. The internet black hole.
To start a CV right, copy-paste the online job ad. It has:
- CV keywords you’ll salt through your bullet points.
- The right skills to list in your CV work experience section.
- Education requirements for your CV education section.
- Other information that puts you above the throng.
Write a customised CV. See how to start a CV that fits the job in this guide: Targeted CV: How to Personalise & Tailor Your CV for a Job
2. Choose the Right CV Format
What should a CV look like?
Before you start writing your CV, pick a format.
The wrong format makes recruiters think too much.
That’ll make them move on.
Choose from three CV formats:
- The reverse-chronological CV format is best for most job seekers. It shows your most recent and relevant selling points first.
- The combination CV format starts with skills. It works for career-changers, high-level professionals, and job-hunters with employment gaps.
- The functional CV format is heavy on skills but light on work history. That sounds good for employment gaps, but employers despise it.
Want more info on CV formats? See our guide: CV Format & Layout: 20+ Best Templates & Samples (MS Word)
3. Start with Your CV Experience Section
Start your CV with experience.
Because it’s the most important part.
It’s the CV section that will get you hired—or ignored.
Are You Experienced?
List your last job first.
Add city & state, dates, and a bullet-list of achievements to impress the hiring team.
Let’s say the job ad wants skills in front-end development, HTML5, collaboration, training, prototyping.
Front-End Developer Job Description for CV [Sample]
You used the skills in the ad, plus results you earned.
Do You Lack Experience?
If you lack experience in the job you’re applying for, list relevant accomplishments from “unrelated” jobs.
If you’ve got zero experience, start your CV with the education section.
Want to see how to start a CV work experience section? See this guide: CV Job Descriptions for the Work Experience Section: 20 Samples
4. Write Your Education Section Next
Employers care about your schooling.
But not the way you think.
Go back to the job ad. What education requirements does it list? Put those in your CV.
- School Name
- Attendance Dates
Add bullet points with classes you excelled in, honours, and projects. Include your GPA if it’s high or recent.
Those extras could be the one detail that makes employers notice you.
Want to know how to start a CV education section? See our guide: How to List Education on CV [25+ Examples & Expert Hints]
Expert Hint: Does your CV need every qualification in the job ad? Not according to a survey of 2,000 hiring managers. Meeting 3 out of 5 “must haves” is often plenty.
5. Finish Your CV with “Other” Sections
Let’s make the hiring team say, “Wow!”
Do it with a couple added sections in your CV.
Your skills section will be short and sweet. Don’t kitchen-sink it with every skill in the book. Here’s how to start a CV skills section: Best Skills to Put on a CV: Guide and 50+ Examples
Want to browse the best bonus sections for your CV? See our guide: What to Put on a CV: Sections to Include for the Best CV
6. Add a CV Heading Statement When You’re Done
You’re almost there.
But you need to make employers want to read your CV.
Your heading statement is your welcome mat. Your lift speech. It’s the trailer for your job-search movie.
It’s a short paragraph that sums up the best bits of your CV.
Write a CV objective. It puts the focus on transferable skills from unrelated jobs—or even just from school.
Want to see how to begin a CV objective? Check this guide: How to Write the Best CV Objective Statement (15+ Examples)
Are You Experienced?
Make it a CV summary. You’ll zero in on your best few moments from related jobs.
Need to know how to start a CV summary? See this guide: CV Summary—20+ Examples for Every Career & Writing Guide
Expert Hint: Start your CV before you write it, by creating a professional email address. 35% of hiring managers say an unprofessional address is a mistake.
7. Write a Cover Letter to Boost Your Odds of Getting Hired
Does anyone write cover letters anymore?
Only if they want the job.
Most recruiters won’t read them.
But almost half won’t read your CV without one.
Your goal? To make them pay attention to your CV.
Want to see how to start a CV cover letter? Check out this guide: How To Write a Cover Letter in 10 Minutes (10+ Examples)
Here’s how to start a CV:
- Start with the job posting. It’s the blueprint for your CV.
- Choose the perfect format. For most people, that’s the reverse-chronological CV format. It puts your last job first.
- Write your experience section first. Show the big achievements that would look good in the new job.
- Add your education section, then some bonus sections. Write your CV heading statement last.
Got questions about how to start a CV so it doesn’t take a year? Need more advice on how to begin a CV? Shoot us a note in the comments. We’ll be happy to reply!