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How to write an English CV

I have helped many of my students write a CV and find a job and I have had many jobs in my life, so I definitely know how to write a CV! 📝

SO….. I thought I would share my incredible knowledge with you.

In this article, I will give you a STEP-BY-STEP guide for how to write a CV in English and at the bottom of the page there is a FREE TEMPLATE that you can download and some SECRET tips.

BUT….

Before we get started, let me ask you a question:

WHY did you spend 20 (maybe more) years in the education system?

It’s a simple answer: to GET A GOOD JOB and make a good life for yourself.

The thing I find very strange is that people spend 20 years preparing to find a job, then 10 MINUTES writing their CV which is the key to finding a job!

Without the 20 years in the education system you won’t be able to DO the job. However, without a good CV, you won’t GET the job!

So a good CV is very important!

Remember this: the person with the best experience doesn’t always get the job. The person with their experience presented in the best way does!

Ok, so let’s start….

Europass Format

The very first thing to say is…. DON’T USE THE EUROPASS FORMAT.

If you want to find a job in Germany, France, Holland, or any other country in the EU (I still can’t believe that we’ve left the EU 🙁 ) then the Europass format should be fine.

BUT…

If you want a job in an Anglo-Saxon country, then the Europass format WILL NOT WORK.

General CV Writing Rules

Let’s look at some general rules for writing a CV in English before we move to the step by step process:

  • Your CV must stand out – Employers only look at CVs for 6 seconds, so you need to get their attention quickly – this is why the PROFILE is so important.
  • CVs should be written in “3rd person” – I say “3rd person” because in reality, it is not in any person, never use any pronouns like “I”, “he”, “she”.
  • Your CV should be 2 pages – No more than 2 pages, no less than 2 pages (unless you are a student with very little experience).
  • Do not lie on a CV – but remember you can always exaggerate the truth 😉
  • Avoid SPAG errors – SPAG means “spelling, punctuation and grammar”.
  • Avoid clichés! – Do not write “hard working individual”, but instead you need to show this in what you write. Something like “often stayed in the office until 10pm to finish work when we had big deadlines” – this SHOWS that you’re a hard working individual!

SECTIONS

An English CV can be broken down into sections, now let’s take a look at each one:

Personal Details

This part SEEMS easy, but many people MAKE MISTAKES – so read the points below CAREFULLY!

Remember to:

  • Write your name in bold.
  • Give only ONE phone number and ONE email address.
  • If you have one, put a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  • If you live abroad, put your Skype contact so that they can arrange a telephone interview.
  • DO NOT put any stupid email addresses like playboy69@hotmail.com.
  • DO NOT write your date of birth – this creates problems for the employer, as it could show that he / she is discriminating against you because of your age.
  • DO NOT write your sex or nationality, this again creates similar problems for the employer and they should be able to understand it from your name anyway ;).

Most importantly, DO NOT PUT A PHOTO. This again creates problems for the employer, as people can accuse them of only choosing the beautiful people.

Keep this section as short as possible, as you want to leave space for the other (more important) parts.

Profile

This is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the CV. Here you must give a short description of who you are and your experience, but remember to CAPTURE ALL OF YOUR IMPORTANT SUCCESSES.

Let’s have a look at an example. You are an employer, you are looking for someone to work as a junior chemist in your company, you have received 100 CVs, so you don’t have time to read all of them. What can you do to save time?

The normal thing to do to solve this problem is to read the first part (the Personal Profile) of the CV, if it’s interesting, you continue, if it’s not, you throw it in the bin. Simple.

SO…. here is the profile of one CV:

Hard working individual who is comfortable working in a team and alone. Good communication skills who always gets good results in everything.

What REAL or SPECIFIC information does this give you? Think about it for a second, then read this one:

Qualified Italian Pharmacist with more than 3 years’ professional lab experience and co-author of a published paper Characterisation of Diarylheptanoid. Experience in extraction, data analysis as well as manufacturing new and innovative cosmetic products – vast experience in working in an international environment and using foreign languages to communicate.

After reading both of them, which one would you choose?

I hope you said the second one!

To write an effective profile you must explain the following:

  • Who you are – A recent master’s graduate in Economics
  • Experience you have – with more than 2 years’ experience in the banking industry (remember, any experience is good, even if you worked in a restaurants you can write “with 2 years’ working experience whilst studying”).
  • Achievements you have had – any big successes such as publish papers, high marks on your degree, anything of note.
  • What you want to do next – you can also write what type of position you are looking for. For example: Looking for an entry role position in banking.

For some more examples of profiles, click HERE.

Work Experience

First of all write down each job that you had and the dates that you worked there. Also write a small 1-2 line description of your role you did.

After this, make sure you do the following:

  • Write in chronological order.
  • Write your achievements, not just tasks! If you worked as a waiter in a restaurant, don’t write “took money, cleaned tables, served meals”, but write “supervised the bar alone whilst supervisor was away” these are transferable skills that you can use for any job!
  • Remember, there is always a way to make a simple task sound good! “Taking money with the till” can become “Learnt from zero the till system and all the administrative procedures and managed the system alone after just 2 days” – shows that you are a quick learner!
  • Begin each point with an action verb, such as “designed” “created” “managed”. This is powerful positive language (click HERE for a list of action verbs).
  • For old jobs, write the action verbs in the past form, like “designed” “created” “managed”. If you are writing about your current job, write the verbs in the -ing form like “designing” “creating” “managing”.
  • Avoid gaps in your CV!
  • Include SPECIFIC numbers. For example “Managing 6 clients’ portfolios” sounds better than “Managing clients portfolios”.
  • Change the length of sentences. Write long sentences and then write short sentences as this keeps the reader interested. It works. Really.

Education

This should always go under experience. If you are a student that has just graduated, try to find some work experience to put before. Remember:

  • Put the dates that you studied and the name of the university / school, as well as the mark that you obtained.
  • Write any subjects studied that are relevant to the job.
  • Think about transferable skills and achievements!
  • If you did a presentation in front of 50 people (or something similar or any special projects that you did), put this, as this is something that you might do at work.

If you have very little work experience, go into more detail in this section.

Further Qualifications and Personal Development

This is your chance to SHOW that you are SPECIAL. Put in any relevant qualifications that you have – this is a great place to say whether you have any English certificates or any knowledge of special software.

Be INVENTIVE, for example, if you don’t have any English certificate you can write: Constant self-study of English – following online lessons and practising with mother-tongue friends.

Avoid things like “good knowledge of using e-mail and Microsoft Office” – we are in 2017, so if you don’t know how to use e-mail or Word, there is a big problem! Any specific program knowledge should be included in your work experience points, as this shows that you have experience using them.

Hobbies

Only write something here if you have space, or if you are extremely passionate about something.

DO NOT write things like “reading, socialising with friends”, it would be the same as writing “eating, sleeping, breathing” – these are things that EVERYONE does!

If you have a hobby that is quite particular, this can be a good thing to write as it can be an interesting thing to talk about at the end of the interview. For example, something like karate, horse riding, musical instruments or something similar would be good.

SECRET tips

Put your CV on job websites like www.monster.com, www.indeed.com, but re-upload it EVERY MONTH. This way it will be treated like a NEW CV on the system.

These job sites use key words, so you can hide them in your CV. Do the research on the job you are looking for and the keywords in the job advertisements which might be “experience in banking” “economics degree” – these should be included in your CV anyway, but you can also write them in white text in the footer, so the words are invisible but the search engines still picks it up.

If you send your CV directly to someone, find out their name and send the CV in PDF, as it looks more professional.

FREE Template

Last but not least, click HERE to download the free template – you’re welcome 😉

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my FREE podcast, there is a new episode every Monday and Thursday… ROCK ON! 🤘

Martman99
Martman99
I'm Martin. I'm an English Teacher. That's about as interesting as it gets.

2 Comments

  1. marina says:

    Extremely useful!!! Thanks a million

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