how to write a compelling cV

how to write
a compelling CV
Although there is a growing emphasis on demonstrating your skills to potential employers in other
ways, such as through online portfolios and social networking tools, the CV still has a key role to play
in getting you the job you want.
There are, however, some differences on how you should present your CV in each market.
Across the world, the way CVs are written and read varies. In Europe, it is literally translated as the
“path of your life”, so it’s important to show detail, responsibilities and progression rather than just
a chronological list of job titles and duties.
There is flexibility in how you create the right CV for yourself, but there are also some pitfalls you
should try to avoid.
Let’s walk through the kind of CV that compels employers to act and how you can create it.
The role you’re applying for, and the stage of your career, should determine the kind
of CV format you should use. These are the basic CV types to choose from:
Functional CV: If you’re applying for a job
that is a big step upwards, or is outside
your dominant skill-set or industry, this
format can be good. It also works if you’re
returning to work after a break because it
emphasises skills and ability rather than
employment chronology. State your career objective first, then, broadly discuss
your skills and qualifications, detailing all
the relevant technical skills you have. List
your education and qualifications and in
a separate section, provide your work history and what you’ve learned-without providing dates/timeframes. Be as detailed as
possible, and provide job titles and names
of organisations you’ve worked with if
Chronological CV: These list every position you’ve held and the responsibilities
you’ve had, starting with your most recent
position. If relevant, include both paid
and unpaid positions. This CV type is the
most common in Europe. List temporary
positions in reverse chronological order,
just as you would full-time positions. If
you worked with a temporary staffing
company, use its name as your employer,
grouping all of your assignments together.
Clearly state that the assignments were
Combination Functional & Chronological
CV: Use elements of both to highlight all
aspects of your skill base, particularly if
you have qualifications that have not been
utilised in specific roles.
Visual CV: These are becoming more common and can combine all kinds of visual
elements, including photographs, videos,
infographics, tables and charts. These
are great for people starting out in their
career who may not have a lot to say, but
want to show what they’re capable of.
More people are looking for work across borders and it’s important to get your application just right for the market you’re
applying in. In France, CVs should be written in French and accompanied by a handwritten cover letter. In Germany, it’s
common practice to put your picture onto your CV, yet in the U.S. employers are required to discard these if they receive them.
A little research can go a long way and if uncertain, contact a recruiter or HR consultant to help you out and provide you with
good examples. Targeting effectively means knowing what’s important.
For example:
The length of your CV is often considered less important than the structure to European employers. It’s recommended to avoid
avoid over-used statements in your industry or location. You can find great lists online, which show who uses which buzzwords
in each location and how you can differentiate your descriptions. Often it’s better to show rather than tell an employer you have
skills like creativity, motivation or problem-solving skills. You can do this by using concrete examples, or in the way you design
your CV.
Be specific about your qualifications as these are often difficult to compare across borders. Include important facts about the
schools, colleges and universities you’ve attended that might reinforce their good reputation to someone who doesn’t know
them. Be careful of your wording — English is a second language to most and using complex corporate or technical jargon can
make it difficult for the reader to understand what you can do or have achieved.
Beware of different formatting and printing standards across countries too. If you’re in Europe and sending your CV to the U.S.,
use the correct paper size and vice versa.
The New Digital CV
The digital or infographic CV format
is becoming ever popular. In a world
where people are increasingly time
poor, tools such as are
allowing job seekers to bring their
plain old paper based CVs to life using
visual images and icons.
This easy to digest CV option can
be created using links to your social
networks and provides a unique
way of presenting your skills and
achievements. Referring to a digital
CV in your job application can ensure
you stand out amongst the crowd,
especially in a highly competitive job
It can be a real challenge understanding all the do’s and don’ts when writing your CV across several countries in EMEA.
We’ve consulted with some recruiting professionals in the local markets to bring you their 3 top tips
3.Avoid sharing personal information, 3.Personal details should include:
1.Mention your position at the top of your CV to clearly identify the position you are applying for. You can also
mention - at the top - a foreign lan-
guage IF you speak it fluently.
2.Your professional experience: This part of your CV is generally the most important one, unless you are a junior with no experience. For each job,
you need to mention the following information:
- Dates (beginning/end)/job title/name
of the company/location
- A sales line/accomplishments with
real figures
- Keywords used in the job ad.
useless data and make sure the presen-
tation is nothing short of excellent. Do not print on both sides, send photo-
copies or use crinkled paper. Don’t ne-
glect to mention your foreign lan-
guages or computer skills if the posi-
tion requires them.
- Last Name, First Name
- Date of Birth
- Place of birth
- Citizenship(s).
1. Aim for 3 pages maximum.
2.Photos are not advised in the UK -
1.Include a professional headshot pic-
ture either in the upper left- or right-
hand corner.
2.You should use up to two pages for your CV. However, these two pages should not be crammed with small-
print information. It should be reader friendly. Therefore, choose your word-
ing very carefully and make sure that your font is a minimum of 11 points.
including one may inadvertently
encourage discrimination. Also there is no necessity to include, sex, age, marital status for the same reasons.
3.Avoid clichés.
2.Recruiters in Russia prefer to receive Portugal
1.Describe the tasks of your most recent a CV with your photo. But make it a professional photo with a clear white background.
1.Keep it short - A good CV should ide-
jobs matching them to the job you are applying for.
2.Structure to follow: personal informa-
3.Always write about goals you’ve tion and picture, professional experi-
ence, educational background, lan
guages, IT knowledge, special recog-
nitions/certificates, hobbies, faculta-
tive: references (can also be requested on demand).
3.A nicely designed cv is always a plus > use some colours or background de-
sign, structure the text very well and make it easily readable.
achieved, and specify them (#, %).
The Netherlands
ally cover no more than two pages.
2.Layout - Keep it clear and accessible.
3.Have different versions available Keep each one relevant to the job you are applying to.
1.Keep the layout to a maximum of 2 to 3 pages, make it short and concise.
2.Recruiters prefer a chronological, clear structure with the most recent experi
ence listed at the top.
3.Add your personal interests and hob-
bies to give your CV some added per-
1.If you apply to any middle or senior management position never reference your unprofessional private e-mail in your CV like [email protected]
Take a look at tools like the LinkedIn analytics site, which shows what other people are doing with their
job search and CV writing (and what to avoid). Specific elements to pay particular attention to are:
Write a great objective
Take some time to think about this. It
needs to reflect how you genuinely feel
about your career. If you’re motivated by
customer service, say so. If you’re focused
on promotion and leadership, say so. If
your goal is simply to work for one company because you believe in the culture,
purpose and what they do, say so. Be
Be measurable
and give examples
When highlighting your achievements, be
specific about what you’ve done. If you’ve
worked with a large team on one project,
use the word “I” instead of “we”— say
what you did in the process and what you
were responsible for. If you’re going to
give examples of cost or time savings,
say how much you saved rather than stating you made ‘significant’ or ‘substantial’
savings. If you improved a process, say
what you did and how it benefited the
Be aware of your tone/style
Be professional, direct and to-the-point.
Try to be objective and accurate in everything you say — descriptors like ‘good
communicator’ or ‘results-oriented’ are
very common and should only be used if
you have examples to prove you really are
these things. Find tangible ways to prove
your ‘team-player’ attitude and all other
‘soft’ skills, and if you don’t have any, consider leaving them out. Without examples
they make very little impact anyway.
List all your contact details
It sounds obvious, but triple-check your
phone number, email address and street
address is correct. Include your twitter
tag, website address and your LinkedIn
profile reference if appropriate as this will
provide employers with more material to
assess your suitability for the role.
When reading your CV employers will have these questions at the forefront of their minds.
If you can answer them, you’re on the right track:
“What can you do for me?”
“Do you have the skills I need?”
Ask yourself if your CV captures the
reader’s interest, clearly summarises who
you are, your greatest strengths, and the
main benefit of hiring you.
Place key words or phrases from the job
ad you’re responding to throughout your
CV. Reorder your skills list to put the most
relevant to the role first.
“Are you a valuable
“Do you have
relevant experience?”
Ensure that your CV demonstrates that
you have made successful contributions
elsewhere. This doesn’t all need to be
about other employers — demonstrate
value at your school or university, community organisations and other volunteer
positions too.
A job title might not accurately convey
your relevant job experience. Consider using bullets to outline interesting information that applies to the position. Keep this
information brief and accurate.
“Are your education
and credentials appropriate?”
Use correct terminology and keywords to
ensure your information isn’t overlooked
by employers or CV scanners.
“How are you unique?”
Distinguish yourself from other candidates
before you meet the prospective employer. Highlight ways that you work that
is different from others with your skill-set,
and highlight extra skills such as foreign
languages or technical expertise.
Proofread and get feedback. If you’re not sure
you’ve answered these questions, get a trusted
friend or colleague to proofread and doublecheck the detail in your CV. They can also
help you pick up inconsistencies, errors and
unintentional negative comments or tone.
Don’t assume that a human being will be reading your CV at the first stage. Applicant tracking
systems (ATS) are software tools used by recruiters to sort candidate applications. They are used
often across Europe, so you should assume your CV will be processed by one, particularly if you’re
applying for a role with a large organisation.
These systems can be error-prone and relatively simplistic in how they group information.
So, you need to ensure your CV is ready to meet the robot and make the right impression.
Send the right format: word documents
are still best. PDFs and other formats can
be difficult for the software to import.
Avoid other graphic elements too — text
is all that will be imported.
Be clear about role titles and employer
names: don’t get too creative here, list
things clearly and succinctly so the ATS
imports your information correctly — this
is very high on the recruiter’s priority list
so if you get one thing right, make it this!
Use the job ad as your guide: take note
of the keywords mentioned in the job
description and mirror these in your CV.
Say what you mean: label each section
clearly so that the ATS imports the correct
information into the right fields. Title your
employment history as “employment history”, “work experience” or anything else
that says what it is.
ATS can reduce 75% of job seekers’
chances of gaining an interview*
* “5 Insider Secrets for Beating Applicant Tracking Systems”
Even if you’re not an active job seeker right now, there are benefits to taking a proactive stance in your career.
Different employers will search for you in different places, so diversify your presence online to increase
the likelihood you’ll be found by the employers you’re targeting.
It’s increasingly important to use everything from social media and networking events to online job boards
in your search—don’t rely solely on your two-page CV to get you noticed.
Boost your job-seeking
presence by:
Networking and connecting with col-
leagues and like-minded individuals
(on and off-line).
Starting discussions on blogs
and industry sites.
Participate in groups and engage with others in your field to broaden your networks.
Position yourself as the thought leader/
subject matter expert within your field by publishing examples of your work.
Consider creating a digital portfolio with
tools like weebly or
Post your CV in places like Slideshare,
CareerBuilder and anywhere else that
might be relevant to your industry.
Get active in professional social media
networks, such as LinkedIn.
Consider putting your CV into animated
PDF or PowerPoint presentation format
(but don’t send these formats if you’re
going through a recruiter as their ATS will
not be able to read it).
Crowdsourcing through Kelly experts:
Stefan Renzewitz
Sally Hunter
Bence Bak
Stefano Giorgetti
Patrick Broderick
Lauren Clovis
Astrid Akse
Stefan is the Operations
Lead for Talent Sourcing
in the DACH region. He
has strong experience in
Career Event, Employer
Branding and Talent
Relationship solutions
including campaign
planning and execution
with a focus on graduates
and young professionals
(Business, Engineers
and IT).
As RPO Practice Lead
EMEA for the Kelly
Outsourcing & Consulting
Group, Sally is responsible
for the RPO proposition
from client relationships
via the account management team to consulting
on HR transformation. Sally
has extensive experience
in the human capital sector, including leadership
positions within strategic
account management
for staffing providers to
operational delivery.
Bence Bak is EMEA
Sourcing Manager. Bence
has 4 years experience
in both researching and
sourcing for different
levels of candidates in
the IT industry. Currently
responsible for training
and maintaining the
knowledge base for
different stakeholders,
creating new standards
and processes around
proactive search and
implementing a new
international IT system.
Stefano is the Managing
Director and Vice President
of Kelly Services in Italy.
He has a strong history
of working within the
recruitment industry and
is currently an innovation
champion for Kelly focusing
on improving the candidate
and customer experience.
Patrick Broderick –
Business Development
Director EMEA, is a hugely
respected ‘Consultant
to the Recruitment
Industry’. His pedigree in
Recruitment is ‘Executive
Search’ where he was a
‘360°’ Consultant and
personally responsible for
the launch of four “desks”
in Telecommunications in
an award winning team.
Lauren is EMEA Marketing
Manager, focussing on
employer branding,
candidate communications
and events organisation.
With a strong background
in finance recruitment and
a history of working on
client premises to deliver
contingent workforce
solutions, Lauren’s
experience focuses
on both B2B and B2C
Astrid is HR Manager
EMEA at Kelly Services.
Having worked for several
years within recruitment
leadership roles, Astrid is
now responsible for HR
across the EMEA region.
Astrid has an international
outlook and her current
role focuses on internal
recruitment amongst other
Kelly promise
You’re unique and you’re different, it’s what makes you, you! At Kelly we understand that not everybody wants the same thing out of their work. Whether you’re just starting your career or have many years
of experience behind you, we are committed to helping you find a role that’s just right for you. Every person’s path has its own twists and turns and in this new world of work, it can be tricky to navigate
through. You can find useful DIY career information at and when you decide to contact us directly, we’ll work together with your passion and expertise to guide you to your next
challenge. Whether this may be in the flexible and temporary workforce or as a permanent employee, Kelly is here to help every step of the way.
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