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When creating a CV, one of the first things you’ll typically do is break it up into multiple sections. Each section will showcase your work experience and skills to recruiters.Here’s what you need to know about each section of a CV.
There are typically five required parts of a CV, with the possibility of optional sections.
The first section is the CV header with your contact information. This is more an element of the CV design than anything else. It includes your full name, phone number and links to portfolio pages such as your LinkedIn profile. It is placed at the very top of your CV.
Next is the professional summary or career objective. This section is a short description of your key skills and professional experience. It’s extremely short and snappy, and it’s meant to be an overview of the rest of your CV.
The skills section usually follows the professional summary. This section lists your most important skills that directly relate to the job. Look to include a mix of hard skills and soft skills. These skills are derived from your professional experience, certifications or education.
Next is your work experience section. This includes job titles you held, the company name where you worked, your dates of employment and a few highlights from each previous position. Other types of work history, including volunteer experience and internships, can be included if they display skills that are relevant to the job you want. Jobs are in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent experience listed first.
Then comes your education section. Here you should list your highest education credential (e.g., college degree or high school diploma). You can also include certifications and relevant coursework.
You may also want to add optional CV sections, such as extracurricular activities, awards or personal interests. They’re not required, but if you don’t have a lot of experience or education to include, as recent graduates often don’t, these optional sections can help fill out your CV. Just remember that all the information you provide should have a bearing on the job you want.
How should you structure your CV? It mostly depends on the CV format. The chronological format emphasises work history. On the other hand, the functional CV emphasises skills and education. The combination CV focuses on work history and skills.
For more help getting your CV into the right format, use a CV builder. The CVHelp CV builder provides professional templates and step-by-step advice for writing and organising a CV, and our CV examples for specific jobs can help you create a CV that makes a hiring manager stop and pay attention.
Personalising your CV for the specific job you’re interested in is always the top priority. If the job description mentions problem-solving or specific computer skills, include these skills in your CV if you have them, and give examples in your work experience section of how you’ve used them.
If you don’t have a lot of experience, consider using the functional format, which devotes more space to the skills and training you do have. This is also an opportunity to include some of the extra sections we list above, if they showcase abilities that match the job.
Action verbs are also incredibly important here. The best CV reflects the information you’re seeing throughout your job search while also adding your flair to them. Use the action verbs to turn qualities like “Detail-oriented” into verbs and actions like “Filed hundreds of files per day with a 99.96% error-free rate.”
The five main categories — header, summary/objective, skills, work experience and education — must be in each CV you write. This is even true for people like career changers and recent graduates, who may not have a lot of work experience to include. Even for an entry-level CV, these sections are important to add. If you feel like your CV is pretty light after filling out these sections, consider filling it with optional sections for extracurricular activities, awards, and hobbies.
Remember also that a cover letter is another important part of a job application and can put you in front of other job seekers. Even if you don’t have much experience with cover letters, the CVHelp cover letter builder can help you create one more easily.
Although you can create a dedicated section for CV accomplishments, it’s typically considered best to scatter them throughout your CV. You can include them in job descriptions in the work experience section and the professional summary.
No. The general career advice is that you should list work experience that’s less than 10 years old and relevant to what you’re applying to. However, remember that you can create ways to connect seemingly unrelated experiences. If you’re applying to be a paralegal, for example, you may be able to include experiences and skills from when you were a summer librarian. Both jobs are very detail-oriented and often require organisational skills.
When it comes to education, the prevailing wisdom is to include all college experience, but only include high school experience if you have no college experience. Additionally, don’t include your GPA, but do include graduation honours like cum laude. You may be able to include certifications in the education section as well.
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