Your CV (which stands for your Curriculum Vitaeal and is also known, more commonly, as your resume) should be reflective of your work and academic experience while also positioning yourself as an ideal candidate for the jobs for which you're applying.
For those reasons, your CV should include a number of sections that tout your skills and experiences. Let's dive into everything you should include on your CV and show you some examples of CV templates you can mirror when you get started on yours.
What Should You Include in Your CV?
Your CV should include at least three sections:
- Your Academic History
- Your Job Experience
- Your Skills
Let's break these sections down deeper.
1. Your Academic Experience
Your academic experience should pretty much always be on your resume, but where it belongs on your resume depends on how far out of school you are and how much career experience you have.
For example, if you just graduated from college and don't have any or much work experience under your belt, you should lead with your academic achievements. That said, if you've been working for a number of years and your job experience is more reflective of your professional career then you should lead with that experience instead and put your educational information toward the bottom.
"If your education is your greatest asset, your education section should be prominently featured on your resume — you can even lead with it," according to Job Scan. "For medical jobs, or other specialties such as law or science, a certain education level can be an absolute requirement. Don’t leave your education off your resume if you have the educational background that is required for the position, obviously."
It's also important to note that the education section of your resume should be the shortest section of them all. Only your most recent and relevant education should go on your resume — so you can leave off your high school diploma and only include any of your degrees and any specific schooling you've done in your field.
Your education section should have the following three components:
- Your School(s)
- Your Degree(s)
- Option: Any Additional Certifications
Some people don't have any certifications, and that's fine. If you do, this is the place you want to put them.
For more on explaining your education on a CV, check out our guide on the education section of your resume.
2. Your Job Experience
Your job experience is an obvious must on your CV. It should be ordered by date — and for the jobs that fall under the same dates, list them in order of relevance to the job for which you're applying.
You'll want to include the following aspects of each experience:
- The Company Name
- Your Job Title
- A Description of Your Experience
On top of the three aforementioned aspects, your job experience section of your resume should include key words and phrases applicable for the jobs for which you're applying. In other words, if any employer is looking for someone who has a keen eye or detail or organizational management skills, you'll want to be sure that your experience doesn't only reflect that, but that it also uses those exact words and phrases. That's because many employers and recruiters are using applicant tracking systems these days.
Software is actually helping them find, track, reject and hire candidates via an automated process that cuts time and money. Applicant tracking systems, in particular, help companies find, sort through, eliminate, track and recruit employees. They process resumes submitted by applicants and they sometimes also use social media to recruit prospective employees.
When applicants apply for a job online, all of their essential contact information, relevant experiences, educational backgrounds, resumes and cover letters are uploaded into the preferred system's database and, from there, can then be transferred from one part of the system to another if the candidate does indeed move along through the hiring process.
For that reason, your CV needs to be easy to read and have keywords that the system will flag. And, beyond keywords, you should have powerful buzzwords. Here are 31 buzzwords that convey leadership, for example.
3. Your Skills
Your skills, like your job experiences, should be relevant to the job for which you're applying. For example, if you're applying for an editorial position, perhaps your sales skills aren't necessary to include — and too many skills could invalidate the important ones and add unnecessary clutter to your CV.
Some skills that you should always have on your resume, regardless of the job for which you're applying, however, are professional skills that apply to all industries. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top five skills employers seek on a candidate’s resume include the following:
- Ability to work in a team
- Communication skills (written/verbal)
- Strong work ethic
When it comes to anything additional, you should be mindful of including both hard and soft skills.
Hard skills, or technical skills, are the skills for which you might have received special training or taken classes to learn. You've likely spent time honing these skills. For example, an architect would need certain technical skills to perform her work, while a teacher would need a different set of skills.
Soft skills are not so quantifiable or “learned,” but rather they're the skills that describe your personality and can be incredibly useful in workplace settings. Perhaps you're a critical thinker, a stronger communicator, a problem solver or you're great at establishing rapport with others. An employer will want to know about these skills, too.
What Are Some CV Templates?
There are tons of CV templates out there for you to mirror if you're having a hard time getting started. Here are a few places to look:
Here are five professional and academic resume templates you'll find online to inspire your own.
1. Professional A
2. Professional B
3. Professional C
1. High School Resume
2. Graduate Resume
You can also check out these 17 resume templates for more!
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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.