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How to write a CV: A beginner’s guide for career starters

How to write a CV: A beginner’s guide for career starters

For career beginners, writing a CV for the first time can feel daunting, but it’s a necessary step to one day landing your dream job. A curriculum vitae (otherwise known as a CV or resume) is essentially a marketing tool that showcases your skills, experience, and education to potential employers, and it's important to make it as strong as possible to help you stand out.

Even if your work experience has been limited so far, there are plenty of ways to boost your prospects and get noticed in today’s job market. Here are some tips for nailing an impactful CV that you can be proud of.

1. Lead with your education

When just starting your career, it’s likely that your CV will be a little light on work experience. Instead, focus on what you’ve already achieved — lead with your educational experience and include any relevant academic accomplishments and highlights.

2. Include internships and volunteer roles

Internships and volunteer roles show that you have a foundation on which to build your career, even if the roles weren’t in your desired field. Volunteer work (no matter the duration) illustrates your commitment to causes that are important to you.

3. Keep it concise

While it's important to include all relevant information on your CV, it's also important to keep it concise and to the point. Aim for a one-page — maximum two page — CV, and focus on the most relevant information.

4. Customize your CV for each job application

Tailor your CV to highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for by customizing your CV for each job application. It takes some extra time, but it’s worth it if potential employers can see an obvious connection between the job spec and your background and experience.

5. Use bullet points and clean design elements

Instead of simply listing your responsibilities under your work experience, use clean design elements. Try implementing bullet points to outline specific achievements and responsibilities in an organized way. It’s also important to keep things tidy — make sure to avoid cluttered CVs with little structure.

6. Action verbs to demonstrate results

When you use action verbs to describe your accomplishments (for example: “coordinated”, “assisted”, “created”), it helps convey exactly what your contribution was to specific achievements.

7. Talk about your results

If you do have a bit of work experience already, include any results you’ve achieved on your CV to show how your responsibilities impacted your work’s bottom line. Phrases such as, "Coordinated digital campaign to support sales increase of 20%” show that your contributions made a positive impact, so don’t be afraid to claim your accomplishments proudly.

8. Proofread, proofread, proofread

It's important to triple-check your CV for spelling and grammar errors to show that you have a keen eye for detail. Even small mistakes can be a red flag to employers.

9. Promote your international experience

If you’ve studied abroad or completed any cultural exchange programs internationally, be sure to include where you studied and what you learned from your experience. Employers are increasingly seeking candidates with international experience. Being able to communicate in multiple languages and cultures can open doors to new business opportunities and enhance communication with clients and colleagues.

10. Share your language skills

Remember to include your language certifications in addition to any international exchange experience. List your language certifications, such as the EF Standard English Test (EF SET) or Cambridge ESOL examination certificates to demonstrate your ability to converse in English.

Now that you’re armed with these tips, you'll be well on your way to building a strong and competitive CV as you embark on your career journey. Here’s to taking the first step towards your dream job!

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