Here's How to Write an Outstanding CV: A Guide by Recruiters

Posted on 6/03/2023
How To Write Outstanding Cv

​Regardless of whether you’re a fresh graduate or looking for a fresh opportunity, your CV is considered the most important aspect of job seeking. In the competitive job market, your resume or CV is your best chance of getting an interview. You want to leave a positive mark on a potential employer or recruiter from the first time they look at your resume.

Whether you're looking for a full-time position, an apprenticeship, or an internship, your CV should highlight the skills and experience that make you a strong candidate. Provide your schooling and any relevant work experience. Its secondary purpose is to demonstrate your character and why you would be an excellent addition to the team.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about CVs. We’ll also take you through everything that you should do to write an effective CV, built on our experience as recruiters — the people who look at CVs day in, day out.

What Is a CV?

Simply put, a curriculum vitae (CV) is a synopsis of a person's academic and professional credentials and experiences. The term “CV” tends to be interchangeable with “resume”. The individual's credentials, including their schooling, work experience, abilities, and achievements, should be included within their CV. Job-seekers submit a resume when applying for any job — from teaching posts and research positions to other professional jobs.

It is essential for job-seekers to have a CV since it allows potential employers to quickly and easily evaluate their qualifications. A resume that stands out from the crowd and invites you for an interview is crucial in today's employment market.

In addition to helping job seekers highlight their best qualities, a CV can reveal areas where they can strengthen their credentials and experience. By analysing their resumes, job-seekers can learn a lot about themselves and their career paths. This internal reflection is important, especially if you manage to get through to the interview stage.

How Long Should Your CV Be?

Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach to the length of a CV. To a large extent, it depends on the applicant's background, skills, and the specifics of the position for which they are applying. The standard rule of thumb is that a resume shouldn't be more than two A4 pages long.

Some people may find it difficult to condense their credentials and professional history into two-page resumes. In such situations, emphasising the most important accomplishments and talents is of the utmost importance.

For an individual with little work experience, such as a high school student or recent university graduate, it’s understandable that they can only fill up one side of an A4 sheet. A three-page resume is unusual, although it may be required for those in senior positions with extensive experience or many jobs in the last five to ten years. Depending on your level of expertise, a CV in the medical or academic fields, for instance, may be more lengthy than one in another field.

A CV's length shouldn't be the only consideration when writing one. Length is less important than the content and quality of the information delivered. A short, well-organized CV that highlights the most important parts of your background can be significantly more effective than a sprawling, disorganised one. Keep your resume brief, but don't undersell your qualifications or experience.

Everything That You Should Include in Your CV

Your resume should highlight your most impressive qualifications and experience when applying for a job. There is no one set formula for a CV; however, some items should always be included:

1. Personal details

Your full name, email, and phone number should be at the top of your CV. Be sure to share up-to-date contact details and use a professional email. Information such as your date of birth, marital status, and nationality may also be required in some countries.

2. Personal statement

Also known as a “summary” or a “profile, a personal statement is a short essay that serves to distinguish you from other applicants. Included at the top of a resume, the objective statement summarises your professional goals and highlights your most impressive qualifications.

As your cover letter will be tailored to the exact position you're looking for, it's important that your CV profile reflects this. The ideal length of your personal statement is 100 words — it should be brief and compelling.

3. Skills and achievements

It’s good practice to include a section that highlights your key skills and abilities that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Here is where you can flaunt your command of not only English but any other language and software programmes you feel comfortable mentioning — Microsoft Excel or the Javascript programming language, for example.

Relevance is of the utmost importance when listing your primary abilities. Don't boast about how great you think you are; you'll have to provide evidence to back that up during the interview. Writing a CV based on your skills is good if you have several applicable skills for a particular position.

4. Education

Include details such as the dates you attended school, the courses you took, and the degrees or certifications you earned here. The specifics of your educational background that you present in your CV will depend on the context in which you are applying for a job. For instance, if your resume highlights your academic accomplishments rather than your professional experience, you should focus more on the former.

5. Work experience

You should list your previous employers along with the positions you had and the duration of your employment at each. Make sure to emphasise your most notable accomplishments and responsibilities from each position.

Each position should have the following details:

  • The company name

  • The job title

  • The length of your employment, in years and months

  • Your main responsibilities in the role

6. Hobbies and interests

Your work experience and qualifications are more likely to be the decisive factors when an employer extends a job offer than your personal qualities. However, briefly mentioning your interests, hobbies, and passions on your CV might help you stand out from the competition and start a natural conversation.

Avoid adding generic hobbies like "socialising" or "reading books". Instead, focus on adding interests that are relevant to who you are professionally. If you want a job in journalism, for instance, you may mention that you've written for your own blog or community newsletter; if you want to work in sales, you might mention that you've participated in climate change activism; and so on. Leave this box blank if you don't have any relevant interests or hobbies.

7. References

Job applicants and employers use references to verify the information on their resumes and applications. A simple "References available upon request" will do; you can always fill in the specifics later. However, if your CV is already quite lengthy, you may wish to omit this part.

What Format Should a CV Be?


Don't use terms like "CV" or "resume" as the title of this document. Doing so would be a complete waste of valuable real estate. Use your own name as the title instead.


Using headings to divide up your resume is a fantastic idea — turn each of the points we described in the previous section into its own header. Make sure they stand out by increasing the font size (to around 14 or 16) and making it bold.


Go with a clean, legible font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman to make your writing seem more professional. Ensure that your resume is easily readable by potential employers by using a font size of 10–12. Verify the uniformity of typefaces and sizes throughout the entire document. Avoid using Comic Sans or similar fonts.


Your resume's education and employment sections should be listed in reverse chronological order. Your most recent accomplishments and job experience will be front and centre for the recruiter.

File format

Instead of saving your CV as "Resume", give the file a proper name. Use something like "Tom-Jones-CV" as the document's title to show that it is an official representation of you.

If the job posting doesn't specify otherwise, use the PDF file format to ensure that your application will be accessible from any computer. If you’re sending your CV via mail, post your resume on plain white A4 paper, print only on one side, and avoid folding it so it doesn't come crumpled.


We also know that it's not easy to find the right words for your CV, especially if you're trying to summarise a wide range of accomplishments and experiences in a limited amount of space.

Avoid using passive language as much as possible within your resume, and it's important to back up your claims about your qualities and character with evidence of your actual achievements. For example, instead of saying, "Responsible for managing the company’s X team" (passive), say, "Managed a team of X employees to achieve Y results" (active).

Don't be shy about using keywords to indicate relevant experience and abilities. In a marketing job application, for instance, you might include the terms "digital marketing," "social media," and "content development".

To improve your CV, think about including the following keywords:

  • Accurate

  • Adaptable

  • Confident

  • Hard-working

  • Innovative

  • Proactive

  • Reliable

  • Responsible

How to Present Your CV

As mentioned earlier in the article, an employer's first impression of you will be based on your CV, so make sure it's good before you send it off. A CV that is disorganised and difficult to understand will get you passed over even if your qualifications are a perfect fit for the role.

Ensure that you always present yourself and your abilities in the best possible light. Keep in mind that CV standards can change from country to country and sector to industry. As a result, before sending off your CV, you should always investigate the norms for such documents in your intended country and field.

Final Thoughts

Since a CV is the first point of contact between an applicant and a company, it’s crucial to get it right. From experience, the difference between a well-thought-out CV and one done within an hour is as clear as night and day. If you really want to land a specific job, you must ensure you put in the time and effort necessary to write a great resume. Be sure to utilise all the tips we’ve mentioned in our article to craft an outstanding CV for your job-seeking ventures.

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