What is a CV and is it right for you?
CVs are most commonly used in the following job titles and industries:
- Professors and other academic
- Scientists and researchers
- Medical professionals
- Specific jobs in entertainment, travel, library sciences, engineering, military, architecture, publishing, and government work
The CV is popular in these fields because hiring managers are looking for specific things: a lengthy education, relevant outside skills, or a pertinent background in the field. Adhering to a consistent format that fits with your industry becomes important here because you are displaying your information in several pages and want something that fits with the role and is easy to follow.
The 12 sections of a standard CV
Depending on the job you are applying to, there are a variety of sections you could include on your CV. Best practice is to include the specifics listed in the employer’s job posting as they could want a larger scope of your career background and/or be looking for specific experiences and skills.
Below you’ll find a detailed example of what you might find on a highly experienced candidate’s CV. Keep in mind that your own CV might not need every listed section or display each section in the same order.
The 12 Most Common Sections Found in a CV Are:
- 1. Contact information
A must-have for every CV, employers need clear and correct contact information from every applicant. While full mailing addresses are no longer necessary, they won’t be able to tell you you’re hired without an easily reachable phone number and professional-sounding email address.
- 2. Summary statement
A professional summary offers recruiters a brief overview of your top career highlights relevant to the position at hand. Ideally, you should use language lifted from the job ad like “expertise in grammar, literature and linguistics” in this example. In three to five lines, lay out exactly why you’re the ideal candidate. Use data and metrics to show the impact of your work whenever possible.
- 3. Core qualifications
This short section uses several precisely phrased bullet points to illustrate your strongest skills in the context of this new position. Think of these as lengthier descriptions of the most important attributes that would otherwise belong on your skills list.
- 4. Education
The sections detailing one’s education are critical on a CV. Not only does this example list a master’s and Ph.D., it goes further by adding mention of their “Advisory Program” since it’s a substantial part of their academic background. Notice how no undergraduate degree is listed, much like how you might not list a lower-level job held many years ago.
- 5. Work experience
Here, you’ll list your past employers, job titles, length of each job and where the jobs were performed. Beneath these, beyond only mentioning past job responsibilities, include quantifiable metrics to demonstrate precisely what you contributed to past employers, like “Supervised academic work of 60 students …”
- 6. Technical skills
This section offers a more straightforward, bulleted list of your remaining job-relevant skills, or “key skills.” Again, it’s best if these directly reference the terms used in the job description.
- 7. Affiliations
Use a section like this to highlight which major, industry-relevant associations you’re a part of or have worked with directly. These associations can carry much weight in certain industries.
- 8. Awards
Here, list any awards relevant to the job to which you’re applying that speak to your skill set as it relates to the job, or that further emphasize your academic and professional achievements.
- 9. Certifications
Any certifications or credentials you have earned outside of your formal education belong here. For example, an entry-level clinical researcher may indicate they’re a Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA), just as a technical writer working in health care would show they’re Medical Writer Certified (MWC).
- 10. Conferences
Listing conferences attended, especially if you’ve delivered talks or presented work there, communicates yet another level of prestige or clout in your field. At a more basic level, this shows your commitment to taking a more holistic interest in your industry through networking, learning from peers, and more.
- 11. Grants and fellowships
Similar to “Awards” and common in fields like academia, medicine or law, here you’d list financial grants or admittance into fellowships. This shows potential employers that you’ve proven yourself to influential people in your field, who then rewarded you based on your merit.
- 12. Publications
Here, list research papers or other published writing related to your work. This high-achieving English professor included their last four published pieces consisting of fiction, poetry and test-preparation guides.
How to build a CV in 8 simple steps
It’s easy to use our Resume Builder to create and customize a CV that will be scannable by applicant tracking systems (ATS) and impressive to recruiters across different industries.
Follow these eight steps to build your own CV:
- Click one of the “Create My CV” buttons. On the new page that appears, select “Create a New Resume” to begin the process.
- Follow the steps on the page and fill in the blanks. The builder will automatically guide you through creating the summary, adding your work history, skills and education.
- After writing your summary, you’ll be able to add extra sections and begin customizing your document. Click the box next to the section (or sections) you want to add to your CV or click “Add Your Own” to manually type in a section that isn’t on the menu.
- When you reach the end of the builder, you’ll see your CV. If you go over a section with your mouse, that area will be selected, and an icon with arrows will pop up on your right. By pressing this icon, you’ll be able to move that section to a different part of the document. This way, you can organize the layout of your CV accordingly.
- If you would like to change the headers of any of your CV sections, simply hover over where it says “Summary,” “Education,” etc. until the “Rename” button appears. Then put your new title in the space provided and click “Enter.”
- You can change the formatting of your document on the menu at the bottom of the page. After clicking the arrow next to “Normal,” press the “Custom” button. A new menu will appear, where you can adjust the margins, font size, font style, and spacing. If you want to change the color, a menu with different options will appear when you click the “Color” tab.
- Be sure to click “Spell Check” at the top left to ensure there are no grammatical errors.
- Once you’re satisfied with your CV, you can click “Download” and save the document on your computer. If you don’t want to download it just yet, press “Save and Next” so your work isn’t lost.
Which CV template is right for you?
Our CV templates offer a selection of designs that are appropriate for every job seeker. Which one you choose will depend on your industry and the position you seek but all of our templates are ATS and job-board friendly. The template you choose can be fully customized to suit a variety of different CV formats and is downloadable in a range of options like .PDF and Word for easy editing and sending.
CV Success Stories
CV Format FAQ
How long should my CV be?
A standard CV can be anywhere from 2 to 10 pages depending on your industry, supplementary information, and what the employer or job posting has cited for you to provide. The most important thing for your CV is to make sure you showcase your full career profile and background through relevant experiences in and out of the workplace.
What countries widely use CVs?
CVs can be used for a variety of jobs in most countries. These are the top countries where CVs are the main derivation of a job application: The UK, New Zealand, Germany, France, India, Italy, The Arab Emirates, Portugal, Chile, and The Netherlands.
Should graphics be used in a CV?
Depending on your industry, graphics and photos are actually required to be on your CV, especially if you are in the arts, an actor, or a model. However, in some European countries, the UK or the U.S., a ‘no-frills’ CV is preferred so photos should not be included. Other countries like Germany, South Africa and Asia may require not only photos but personal information such as your date of birth and personal ID, so it’s very important to make sure you meet the requirements set in the job posting.