Elements of the CV
Mandatory and optional elements of the CV
The CV shouldn’t be too long. It depends on your age and also the CV culture where you are, but it shouldn’t be longer than 2 or 3 pages. The aim of the CV is for you to be invited for interview, nothing else. The aim is not to lay all your cards on the table.
It is important that your CV is always kept up-to-date. Keep a record of who you have sent it to and when. The aim is not to lay all your cards on the table. You will have ample opportunity to talk about yourself at length at the interview; it will be there where it emerges what you need to emphasise from your professional career to-date. Additionally, only a highly enthusiastic person would read all of a 20-page CV. It is best if becomes evident from one compact page that they need you. This can be a starting point. Should you be at the beginning of your professional career your CV should by no means be long due to you writing in font size 16. For one, it won’t be taken seriously, and secondly, what will become of the rainforests? If you care about the Amazon jungle, keep the paper to a minimum.
- Personal data
- Educational qualifications (reverse chronological order, most recent first)
- Courses (reverse chronological order, most recent first)
- Workplaces (reverse chronological order, most recent first)
- Other jobs, other projects (reverse chronological order, most recent first)
- IT knowledge (especially important for IT jobs)
- Languages spoken, driving licence Hobbies, spare-time activities
The above order should generally be followed, but you can deviate in instances where it is justified. Particularly, the order of the education and workplace sections can be swapped, depending on which is more advantageous.
What though, if your otherwise exceedingly valuable qualifications are not relevant to the given position? If you also have a degree which has nothing to do with the professional field to which you are applying, then put this in another category (for example, other qualifications). If however, your highest qualification is not related, the best solution is if you list your relevant experience first, and then, if at all, put your qualifications in towards the end. For example, if you are applying for a programming position and you have professional knowledge which meets the expectations but your degree in biology is listed first in your CV, the reaction is likely to be one of “I’m looking for a programmer, not a biologist. How did this CV end up in my hands?” Following this, don’t bank on the person reading any further, seeing as they haven’t found the information they are looking for at first glance. In such instances, begin with your IT knowledge; list the work you have done in this field, and at the foot of the page, mention your degree. By the time the reader gets there the information which sticks will be “Java” and not “organic chemistry”.
Let’s take a look in detail!
Name – not obvious???
Birthplace and date – omit!
Address – include or omit?
Telephone – include!
E-mail – include!
Family status – omit!
Github/Stackoverflow account – well, if you’re a geek
Kaggle account – well, if you’re a trendy geek
Name: Don’t forget your name, especially if you are applying by e-mail. You can’t be certain that the same person who received your CV will be the one who originally received it. It is prudent to put your name at the top, in the centre in bold lettering. It should stand out from a distance that the CV is yours. Perhaps we should mention here that it is superfluous to write “Curriculum Vitae” at the top. It’s obvious what it is. What else would it be? Anyhow, most probably it’s going to land in the ‘CVs’ folder… Really, really, really we’ve seen CV’s without a name. :S
Birthplace: if by chance a compatriot or someone from where you come from reads your CV then you can make a good impression right from the beginning, irrespective of anything else. Yes, people are prejudiced. This is only relevant in case of non-international jobs, when you’re staying in your own country, and that particular place is not a big city. “Born in London” – well, you’re not alone. “Timbuktu” sounds way more interesting, except for everyone else in Timbuktu.
Date of birth: this is none of your employer’s business; indeed, it is illegal to request it. However, if you have a very common name, you do us a great service by including it. (The name “Gábor Szabó” won the Mimox in-house competition with having over 25 of them in our database.)
Address, telephone number: stating whether the number given is your home or work number and when it is best to contact you is a courtesy to the headhunter. Of course, the best is your mobile phone number. Your address is again, not a very interesting fact, unless for revealing your social status in some case, which is of course, none of the recruiters’ business.
Family status, children: again, this is none of your employer’s business; but you can imply things with this. For example, that you don’t wish to work overtime. If it’s a family-friendly company then this won’t cause a problem. There are also positions where is it is an advantage that the applicant has a family and children. If you are bringing up children then it’s likely that you have come across the concept of responsibility and the pressure of decision-making also in practice. We recommend that you play with this rather at the personal interview.
Who your parents are, what they do, whether you have siblings or not. These have no value as information, what with you not programming any better just because, for example, your mother is a teacher. Cadre-based selection is hopefully not in vogue any more (at least in the business sphere).
Don’t forget to put in the dates (years), in reverse chronological order. Why? Because your most recent educational qualification or workplace has the greatest influence on your current professional knowledge, and should therefore be placed first for the greatest impact. Everyone searches for this information first; it isn’t good if they have to go through the whole CV in order to find it. You don’t need to mention your primary school, there’s no point, as everyone more or less studies the same thing there. There may be an exception should you have studied at a school which had a special focus on, for example, mathematics, music, languages or sport. That is, in general, your high school should be in last place amongst the educational institutions you have studied at.
For your university degree it is worthwhile (primarily for fresh graduates) to list a couple of relevant subjects.
For your workplaces (as well as for your relevant summer jobs and work experience) you should list the companies, positions and introduce your work, the various tasks being allocated under sub-headings. If it is a more-well known company it isn’t necessary to introduce the company. Who wouldn’t know, for example, what Coca Cola produce? Decision-makers understand how a drinks manufacturer operates. If, however, it is a company which most people don’t know, then it’s also worth mentioning, in brackets, what the company does: “Some Company Ltd” (1m dollar turnover, bin-bag distributor)”. If your position within the company changed, or you were promoted more than once, put it in; give the years you worked in each position, but within the section relating to that company. The advantage of this is that it shows that for one, you can be trusted to do all sorts of things, and also, that company management trusted you; you obviously brought something to the table for this to be the case.
If you have had numerous workplaces, or many periods when you were doing more than one thing, this is the most awkward thing to deal with. This has to be seriously tweaked and straightened out. It’s bad if it appears that you have been spinning too many plates, doing all sorts of things that you never complete. Of course, we know that there are mitigating circumstances. The most prudent action is the liberal use of the “delete” button. There should be continuity, and if it’s important, not because you were promoted, but because it portrays you in a better light, because it is important professionally, because it puts you into a professionally more advantageous position, then place this in a separate section under the heading “other projects” and list there the parts that are interrupting the straight chronological order. If you changed jobs on a yearly basis, then after a while its best to leave out a few of them.
Other courses, side-jobs, projects
Here you need to list your award-winning software, your patented invention; the shorter projects (don’t forget to mention key-words!) Express in a few sentences the role you had, the tasks involved, and the projects’ key characteristics.
Here you can list the short courses (courses lasting a few days or a few weeks). If possible, leave out the secretarial, baby-sitter, and the nail-technician’s courses. You can, however, include the ITIL and sales-techniques courses, possibly speed-reading and anything which will strengthen your image.
Write everything that you have an understanding of (taking into account the target audience of course). Group them into categories such as programming languages, developer environments, database handlers, operation systems, user programmes, and graphics programmes. This way you facilitate the search.
Include the level of your knowledge too, unless you decide to include only the strongest skills. Expect a technical question in everything you write here! So, if you omit the “beginner level” phrase, it means you think yourself good at that particular technology.
Don’t beat around the bush; write down the level to which you have mastered the given language. Don’t write things such as “conversational level English knowledge”. This sounds very diplomatic but it isn’t obvious from it whether you know English or not. It may be very uncomfortable if you are unable to converse in an foreign language interview. It is difficult though, to express your true knowledge in a manner that everyone has the same understanding of. By all accounts write “fluent” or “advanced” if this means that you are just as comfortable speaking in the given language almost as you are in your native tongue, and should anyone switch to that language during the interview, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Hobbies, spare-time activities
Your favourite leisure activities tell a lot about you. There are no good or bad answers. For example:
- Stamp-collecting: persistence, possesses taste, introvert, enjoy being on your own.
- Chess: logical, strategic thinker, high levels of concentration for long periods of time.
- Parachute jumping (and other extreme sports): keeping to the rules as if your life depended on it, spirited, brave, risk-taking, cool-headed under pressure, you possess great reaction times, challenge- and adventure-seeking.
- Basketball (and other team sports): teamwork, paying attention to others, unselfishness, concentration, success depends on the whole team.
- Table tennis (and other individual sports): persistence, determined, success belongs only to you.
- Judo/karate/taekwondo/kung-fu, etc: physically strong, endurance, persistence, focused on your opponent, reflexes, self-confidence, harmony, humility, ‘good soldier’.
- Latin dance: you are social, and just maybe, warm-blooded! 🙂
If there’s anything else, such as, for example, sowing or knitting in the case of men, it’s worth including due to the attention-grabbing factor. Things like travel and reading aren’t as important since it portrays us as being no different to others, which is not the whole idea here. Although, once, the only reason why we invited a guy for an interview was because he included in the spare time section his travels to an African country. And he turned out to be a really nice guy and a good candidate.
Not necessary. You can leave it out completely. Saying “good team-player”, “adept at working individually”, “creative”, “excellent communication skills”… words are wind! And so we, recruiters simply don’t believe you! 🙂
Verbs! Verbs! Verbs! And not adjectives! That’s the rule in the CV! “I have managed 150 people for 10 years” – this tells us more than saying “good management skills”. Or “1st level customer service clark, 2010-2012, 2nd level customer service clark 2013-2016” means you cannot be possibly be a bad communicator, and most probably you ARE able to speak to customers of all sorts, aren’t you?
But if you enter “creative”, don’t be surprised if someone asks “how are you creative?”.
So, instead of “I’m a great boss”, rather: “I have twice been promoted to manager”.
Instead of “flexible”, rather: “I commuted between three countries”.
And so on. By describing your work experience in terms of what you did and what you accomplished you have outlined your strengths. Write in the past tense. This helps emphasise the feeling of completeness; that you have already done, seen and tried this and that. It isn’t a promise; it’s evidence.
Usually it’s just your driving licence that fits here, unless you really have a strong skill in something very special.