700,000 Applications Taught Us What an Effective CV Looks Like

700,000 Applications Taught Us What an Effective CV Looks Like



Writing an effective resume or CV that will get you through the door to the first interview is not exactly rocket science, but we are stil seeing a lot of hard-to-read CV's flying through the gates. Based on more than 700,000 applications we know what works and what doesn't when it comes to a resume that gets read and (hopefully) leads to an interview.

The average time it takes a hiring manager to scan a CV is 6 seconds. And that was S-I-X seconds! That means a 6 pages CV with no headlines or bullets probably won't get you very far. Luckily we know what does, so let's dive into the things you should be paying attention to when crafting a bulletproof resume.

TL;DR: The CV Checklist

This is what you need to pay attention to when you put together your CV:

  • Up-to-date contact information
  • Picture
  • Personal Summary
  • Education
  • Job Experience (important to include numbers here)
  • Specific skills
  • Show your personality
  • Clear headlines
  • Action oriented verbs
  • Easy-to-scan layout (use Canva, EnhanCV or Easy Resumé for inspiration)

The Essential Questions You Need to Ask Your CV

How Can You Be Reached? Update your Contact Information

Update Your CV Contact Information

You might be in a hurry to advertise your work experience before anything else when creating your CV, and that’s understandable. However, before getting down to business, you should first consider that tiny section at the top of any CV template that contains your contact info. When recruiters or potential employers go over CVs, they also need to know how and where to reach you. If your contact info is missing or has not been updated in a while, they will not be able to get through to you, which means no incoming job opportunities! This is why you should always provide accurate details in this part of the CV.

Wondering how much contact info to share? When putting together the CV that will land you your dream job, there is no such thing as TMI! Therefore, the contact section on your curriculum vitae should always include the following five essential details, in this particular order:

  • Full name (first, middle, and last)
  • Full address (street address, city, state, zip code)
  • Phone number
  • Professional email address (
  • LinkedIn or personal website URL
  • Picture (bordering nice-to-have but it will help build your brand in the recruiters head)

And yes. LinkedIn has become more or less required in today’s recruiting process as a source of information about your profile. Are you worried about how your LinkedIn profile looks or should look? We wrote a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you master your LinkedIn game.

Who Are You? Start Describing Yourself with a Summary

Write a CV summary

You might not know this yet, but an inadequate or nonexistent opening paragraph is the number one thing that disqualifies your CV. By its very definition, the CV summary is the very first thing companies notice about you.

The first step in writing a good CV summary is hyping yourself with relevant action-oriented verbs. What is the one powerful word that best describes your career so far? We’ve compiled a shortlist of examples below, but don’t be afraid to get creative with it:

  • Accomplished
  • Experienced
  • Skilled
  • Qualified
  • Talented

Now that you’ve caught their eye, it’s time to tell them what you do. Use the keyword that best encapsulates the essence of your profession. A good way to find it is by researching the job market a bit and see what terms companies use for listings.

Who are you? An accomplished content marketing specialist? A talented senior graphic designer? An experienced corporate attorney? The list can go on and on. Find your niche and stick to it.

Finally, you need to figure out what your schtick is. Complete your CV summary with gaugeable accomplishments and integrate quantifiable metrics wherever possible. And keep it to the point! You want to be concrete and relevant from the get-go.

Where Did You Go to School? Elaborate on Your Studies

Elaborate on your studies

Regardless of how high on the academic ladder you’ve managed to climb, your CV needs to reflect that. However, unless you went to a fancy institute for gifted children up in France when you were a pre-teen, no one wants to read about your middle school experience. Our best piece of advice when it comes to listing your education in a curriculum vitae is to limit the list to higher education accolades only and focus on the most relevant ones. This means a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate only.

While it is hard to generalize here, we can recommend across the board to keep this section under 30 words. In this particular case, less truly is more. Here are the vital details you should mention:

  • School name
  • School location
  • Field of study
  • Years attended
  • Degree (if applicable)

What Have You Accomplished? Showcase Your Success

Showcase your success on CV

It’s time to discuss your employment. When listing past jobs, it is essential to mention the following aspects of your previous experience in the workforce:

  • Specific job title
  • Company name
  • Company location
  • Employment dates
  • Brief job description
  • Performance

However, including these details only will leave your CV feeling a little dry to the eye. Remember the quantifiable metrics we talked about in the CV summary portion of this article? Now’s your chance to elaborate on them and stand out!

Don’t think of your previous jobs in terms of just responsibilities, but rather focus on what you accomplished while working there. How much revenue did you generate through sales? What was the size of the budget you handled? How many people did you train or manage? Providing hard numbers and data to reflect your success is the surest way to catch a recruiter’s eye. It works like a charm in certifying your competencies and makes you stand out from the rest as a proven professional with a legit track record that can support your recruiter’s goals.

Any Personal Projects? Show That You Have Initiative

CV Personal Project

A CV is more than a testimony of the fact that you went to school for a number of years and then got some jobs. Ideally, yours should also reflect the things you are passionate about. Thus, if you’ve got any personal projects to put on display, why not take advantage of the value they can add? This is the part where you truly get the chance to separate yourself from the competition and become “unique” to the viewer's eyes. As a general rule, we advise you to list projects directly related to the industry you want a career in. This will show employers that you are interested in pursuing a particular line of work in your spare time as well. Examples of creative side projects that will boost the quality of your CV include, but are not limited to:

  • Websites
  • Personal blogs
  • YouTube videos
  • Portfolio

However, presenting other types of projects that you have been involved in over time can also boost your status among candidates. For example, community or charity actions such as volunteer work will always resonate with employers, regardless of their field. By emphasizing on this you will paint a more personal portrait of yourself that will increase your chances of being remembered because you have shown effort and determination as a professional. It almost translates into the x-factor that most employers seek - a proactive role player that does not necessarily need to be told how to do their job day in and day out.

What Skills Do You Have? Let Your Career Speak for Itself

CV skills

Regardless of the niche you want to work in, at the end of the day, it all boils down to what specific skills you have. The essential aspect to keep in mind at this point is that you should always correlate your professional aptitudes with your career. What skills did you develop within a certain position? How did these skills influence your accomplishments later on? What are your hard skills, and what are your soft skills? Every single facet of this matter is relevant, so don’t leave anything out.

And speaking of hard skills and soft skills, don’t forget to differentiate between them properly when putting together your CV. Remember, hard skills are teachable and quantified, while soft skills are interpersonal and depend on various factors.

Nonetheless, it’s essential to show that you master both. Your foreign language proficiency, advertising certificate, or typing speed won’t have much value if you can’t manage your time properly or function well in a team - you want to be a culture fit as much as a role fit, remember this nugget!

How to bring your CV into 2021

How to get creative with your CV

Now that you have filled your resume with the most essential elements and gotten straight to the point, there is one BIG question you need to be asking yourself: is this easily scan-able?

We see quite a few resume's that are heavy on the eye, and if you are one of 60 applicants you are making it hard to cut through the noise if you insist on an 800 word .docx.

The best CV's are visually pleasing, and helps the reader navigate. Luckily you don't have to start from scratch, as there are a ton of resume builders out there. Our favourites include:

Shop around and find something that works for you. Good luck on your job hunt.