Writing your first CV can feel beyond daunting. Yes, there are examples on the internet. Yes, you learned the basic structure and got some templates from the career center. Yes, you have legitimate and useful job experience.
But how do you make your CV stand out from the crowd?
A good resume could be the crucial element that lands you the job of your dreams, so it’s time to write one that shines. This guide will help you write a CV for the first dream job of your adult life – and hopefully the beginning of an amazing career.
What makes a good CV stand out
You have probably heard the rumors that many recruiters spend six seconds or less on a resume. That may or may not be true, but how you choose to start your CV can determine whether they read any further. Catch the reader’s attention with the very first line of your personal statement: why are you the absolute best fit for this job?
For the body of your CV, use bullet points, bold or italics, and subtitles to draw attention to key sections and help the reader scan the page. Looking for a job in NYC? Contemporary, sleek formatting. A more traditional city? Go with classic font and formatting.
One CV to rule them all?
It can be tempting to re-use your CV for each job application, but don’t fall prey to that trap. Every job requires a revamp, if not an entirely reworked CV tailored to the particulars of the role. Do yourself a favor and create one master CV that you can edit for each new opportunity, saving time and giving you the chance to keep fine-tuning.
How to start
Decide what CV format makes sense for the job you are seeking and your current level of experience. Almost all CVs start with a Personal Statement, so we’ll begin there. This is your chance to sum up your job-seeking intentions in two brief, impactful sentences. Keep it concise: why do you want the job, and why should they hire you? Two sentences means 50-100 words, so avoid common cliches or buzzwords when describing yourself in favor of effective statements.
What to include
- Start with relevant contact information. Your name, phone number, a professional-looking email address, and mailing address if applicable. If you’re planning to relocate for a job, put your anticipated new city.
- After your Personal Statement, highlight your skills and educational experience. Since we are discussing how to write your first resume, you probably don’t have a lot of job experience – and that’s ok. The ‘Skills’ section is the most important part of your CV! Highlight applicable coursework and include your anticipated graduation date and degree if you haven’t finished school yet.
- Include work experience if it is relevant. The experience to include in a CV depends on what is relevant to the job. As a first-time jobseeker, the bulk of your credibility likely comes from your education. Feel free to list volunteer work or internships if they support your skillset.
- Add references if requested. Not all companies ask for references, after all. Alternatively include the phrase, “References available upon request” if you run out of room.
Don’t forget the cover letter
Unless the employer specifically states otherwise, every CV should be accompanied by a well-written cover letter. Think of this as your chance to expand on your Personal Statement and:
- Explain why you are interested in and qualified for the job in a narrative format.
- Use it to complement your CV, not just echo what it already says.
- Display your work ethic and sincere interest in the job.