Five universal rules for the perfect CV

Published on: 12 August 2019

The quality of your resume can determine whether or not you are invited to a job interview. Whether this is your first resume or yours needs an update, these five universal principles will bring you one step closer to your dream job.

The purpose of a resume is to display your relevant skills and performance in the best possible way. Recruiters are always looking for the same basic elements:

1. Don't forget the basics

  • Contact details. In addition to your name, it is best to provide a clear overview of your personal contact information, such as an address, telephone number and e-mail address. Make sure you are always easily accessible.
  • Relevant educational degrees or certificates. List these in chronological order and only include the educational credentials that are relevant to the job description.
  • Relevant work experience or volunteer work. Avoid listing all of the responsibilities you had during previous jobs. Instead, focus on your personal achievements. Ask yourself: How do I distinguish myself from other candidates?
  • Relevant skills. Only list the skills that are relevant to the position for which you are applying. Also state your level of mastery, for instance: "fluent French" or "basic English".

2. Be inspired by other CVs

Finding someone who has already made a CV is not a difficult task. Why don't you ask one of your friends if you can view his / her resume? This allows you to explore how others frame their experiences in interesting ways. You can get inspiration from the layout, but also the description of their achievements and skills.

3. Use as few words as possible

Employers often have to go through a high number of CVs in a short period of time. So make sure your resume is as concise as possible. Use short sentences instead of long paragraphs.

The following description, for instance, is too long: "I was responsible for budget management to reduce departmental costs by 20% through careful research where I identified redundancies."

Instead, write: "I saved 20% on departmental costs by identifying redundancies."

The usual length of a resume is no longer than two pages, so make sure that all the information you have included is essential. If you cannot decide what is important, ask yourself what is relevant to the job description.

4. Use the correct keywords

Use keywords that employers use in their job descriptions. Recruiters want to see that you speak the same language as them. When they find their own keywords in your CV, it will reinforce the idea that you are a strong candidate for the position. In addition, the right keywords are crucial to being found in databases.

Carefully read the job descriptions that interest you and learn from the vocabulary that employers adopt. You may find similarities there that you can include in your resume - if they match your background of course.

5. Check for writing mistakes

A resume with writing mistakes significantly reduces your chances of getting invited to an interview. So make sure you carefully read your resume. Leave it for a day and then check it again. No matter how time-consuming it may be, a faultless resume can help you land your dream job.

To be sure, you can have one of your friends or family members proofread your resume. A fresh perspective is always a good idea. They may also suggest alterations that you may not have initially thought of.

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