How to make a professional CV

Are you looking for a job? Then there is one thing you can’t do without; a CV. Make a CV before applying for any vacancies or update it, if you already have one. Your curriculum vitae (CV) is a document that shows an employer or recruiter what you have to offer. But did you know that the average time a recruiter spends screening a CV is only 6 seconds? That may not seem very long, but it’s all the time you need to impress if you have a strong CV. Want to know how to make a professional CV or do you need some help writing a CV? Or do you already know how to write a CV for a job application (with no experience), but want to go the extra mile to ensure that you stand out among all those other applicants? We are happy to help you on your way by answering all of your questions. That’s why, on this page, you’ll find some tips, tricks, and a guide to writing a CV.
 

What is a CV?

Let’s start at the beginning. Because before you can make a CV, it’s important to know what a CV actually is. You probably already know that CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means ‘course of life’. You could indeed say that your CV is the course of your life on paper. It’s where you sum up your personal data, educational background, work experience, skills, interests and more. Because a recruiter or HR manager often only takes a quick look at this document, it’s important that your CV is concise and easy to scan. When you make your CV, you want to make sure important information, such as your qualifications and work experience required for the job, stands out quickly. This way, you have the best chance of convincing the recruiter or employer within those six seconds that your CV belongs on the yes-pile.
 

What to include in your CV

Although you probably want to stand out with your CV, it’s best to include only the standard things when you go to make your CV. After all, a CV is meant to make it quick and easy for a recruiter to find important information about you, so adding lots of (unnecessary) information can affect your chances negatively. The following components should always be included when you make your CV:

  • Personal information
  • Work experience
  • Educational background
  • Knowledge and skills

 
You can also opt to add a CV summary or profile, your hobbies and references on your CV. Need some in-depth help making a CV? Don’t know how to make a CV for your first job?

Or do you just want to know more about writing a CV profile, need some inspiration for CV skills, education, or work experience? Keep reading, cause we’ll explain each segment of a CV separately. That way it will be even easier for you to make your CV.

Personal information

When you make your CV, you want to add some personal information to give the recruiter an idea of ​​who you are and where you come from, and how to contact you. Make sure you add your:

  • First and last name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address (make sure it’s professional)

 
Not very exciting, but very important. If your personal details are easily scannable, a recruiter is much more likely to keep reading. So keep it short and concise here too. For example, a recruiter or HR manager has little use for information such as your place of birth, religion and marital status. So leave it out. Things like whether you own a driver’s license, your LinkedIn profile or a professional online portfolio can be interesting. When you make your CV, always ask yourself whether the personal information you want to add to your CV is relevant to the position for which you are applying.

CV summary, profile or personal statement

A CV summary (also known as a CV profile and personal statement) is not required but highly recommended. In this short piece of text, you can introduce yourself and show some personality, as opposed to the dry list of work experience and competencies further down on your CV. If you want to make a CV that stands out, a good CV is a good place to start. Writing a CV summary can be pretty difficult. How do you introduce yourself to a stranger in an original way, in only a few lines? Here are some tips:

Do not

  • Use clichés. Employers are not looking for yet another ‘hard worker’ that ‘always gives 110%’. Such phrases are not original and say little about who you really are.
  • Write long paragraphs, 4 to 5 lines is sufficient. Your profile should be easily scannable.
  • Copy your cover letter. A boring summary of your qualities (such as on your CV) is not suitable for your CV profile, you’re better off using this space to show some of your sparkling personality.

Do

  • Make it personal. Start your CV summary with the words “I am…”.
  • When possible, choose creative, original words that suit you. Give the text a personal touch and don’t forget that the style of the CV profile should be informal.
  • Mention something new about yourself in this piece of text, that can’t be read in your CV or cover letter. For example, write about your ambitions, talents or your ideal job.

 
Need some help writing a CV summary? We’ve got tips, tricks and examples for you in our article on CV summaries (aka personal statements).

Work experience

When you make your CV, you want to spend some extra time on the most important part: your work experience. Most recruiters and employers immediately look at your previous jobs when they open your CV. Write down your previous (relevant) work experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job. Make sure that the most relevant work experience stands out. You really don’t have to mention a weekend job that you held for a few months during your student days if you have been working full-time for years now. Mention the job title, the company name, the period you worked there and the most important activities for each relevant job.

No work experience? No problem

Not sure how to write a CV for a job with no experience? There’s still enough to mention on your CV. You can add weekend jobs or jobs during holiday periods. Internships, major projects for your studies or volunteer work also deserve a place on your CV.

Educational background

When you make your CV, you also want to spend some time on your educational background. Again, add the schools in reverse chronological order and go no further back than high school. If you’ve been working for many years and have a well-stocked resume, you can even omit your secondary school diploma. The following also applies to college: only add relevant courses and degrees. You can also add a course that is in line with your field or an interesting thesis you’ve completed. Don’t be modest and feel free to mention your final grade, especially if it is high or if you graduated with a first. This shows the employer that you are a hard and ambitious worker. Also, don’t forget to indicate whether you’ve obtained a diploma for each degree, course or school.

Want some more help with the education section of your CV? Take a look at our article about the CV education section.

Knowledge and skills

It’s smart to add any relevant knowledge and skills to your CV. Only add skills that are worth mentioning and that are relevant. Pretty much everyone knows how to work with Word nowadays, and your juggling skills probably won’t help you get that job in IT. Tip: Check which skills are listed in the vacancy. If you have these skills, it’s a good idea to add them to your CV.

Want to make sure your CV contains all the right skills and knowledge? Take a look at our article about CV skills and knowledge.

Hobbies and interests

You don’t have to mention hobbies and interests, but they do make your CV more personal. Try to be distinctive here too. Of course, you like to meet up with friends, (almost) everyone does. This doesn’t necessarily give the employer a good idea of who you are. Mention instead, for example, which (special) sport you enjoy, which genre of books you like to read or if you do any volunteer work.

References

References on your CV are also optional, although some employers do ask for them. You can choose to state the details of your ex-employer or former colleague on your CV. Of course, it’s important that he or she is aware of this. You can also put on your CV that references are available on request. Want to know more about CV references? Take a look at our article on CV references.
 

How to make a CV in the correct format

Now that you know what to include when you make your CV, it’s time to talk about the CV format. For the appearance and scannability, it’s important that your CV looks professional and well-organized. But how do you make a good CV in the correct format? We’ve given you a few options below.

How to make a CV for free on Word

If you want an easy way to make a CV that looks neat and professional, Word is one of the easiest tools to make your CV with.

  1. Start with a blank document and make your CV from scratch. Choose a clear, professional font (like Calibri or Verdana – avoid Comic Sans) and use headings. By using the tab key you get a simple, but neatly aligned resume.
  2. Writing a CV with a template is even easier. You can find the templates by clicking ‘new’ in Word. Type in ‘CV’ or ‘resume’ in the search bar and the available templates will be shown. Choose your favourite and click on ‘create’. You can also download a CV template for Word online.

How to make a CV online for free

Making a free CV online is easier than you might think. There are several websites that offer free CV templates or where you can easily design a professional CV.

  • The easiest way to make your CV is with our (free) Jobbird CV builder, our online CV creator. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and then download your finished CV. Even better: you immediately become visible to employers who are looking for employers (unless you indicate that you don’t want this).
  • On websites such as cvmkr.com and zety.com, you also have the opportunity to make a professional CV in just a few steps. Some online CV creators do require payment, but often you can make your first CV for free or have a 30-day free trial.
  • Do you want to make a striking or creative CV? Then give Canva a try. On this website, you’ll find hundreds of free CV templates that you can customize to your own taste.

 

How to make a creative CV that stands out

Now you know how to make a basic CV, you’re probably wondering how to make a CV stand out. A creative CV is a great way to catch the employer’s eye. For example, you’ll attract more attention with a video CV or if you make a CV look like the cover of a magazine you want to work for. If you want to make a creative CV, it’s important to make sure it’s suitable for the job you’re applying for. As a (future) designer, for example, having a beautiful and creative CV can help you get a job, while in less creative sectors a simple CV may be appreciated more. Remember that the recruiter or employer should be able to find the most important information easily, no matter how creative your CV is. Would you like some more tips on how to make a creative CV? Check out our article on creative CVs.
 

5 tips on writing a CV

You’re probably so happy once you finally finish making your CV that you just want to go ahead and send it to loads of employers. We get it but wait just a little longer. Even though the content and layout are now in order, the details are just as important. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s with our 5 tips for a good CV, then you can send your application with complete confidence.

  1. Make sure your CV is no longer than two A4 pages. With more than two sides a CV quickly becomes cluttered (and boring). Put the most important information on the first page. Is this your first (real) job? Then one A4 sheet is probably more than enough.
  2. This one is obvious, but check your resume for typos and spelling mistakes. It’s smart to print your CV for this because mistakes are more noticeable on paper. It also helps to read your CV out loud and to have your resume checked by someone else.
  3. Is your CV easy to read? Make your CV easy to scan by using subheadings and blank lines. Make sure job titles and other important information are in bold. Shorten long chunks of text to a few sentences or bullet points.
  4. Save your CV as a PDF file before sending it. This way you can be sure that nothing moves around and that the layout remains the same when the recruiter or employer opens the document.
  5. Be sure to clarify who this CV belongs to. Put your name in the header and in the file name, and possibly also in the footnote of your CV and cover letter. This way the employer can find your CV quickly.

 
Bonus tip: While you’re at it, make a standard CV. This will save you time for any subsequent applications. In this CV, add all the information that’s useful for every application, such as your personal details, educational background and recent work experience. You can easily customize this CV for each application with information relevant to the job you’re applying for. Think of relevant skills, a course or specific job experience.
 

CV examples

Now that you know how to make a CV, what to include and what your CV format should look like, it’s time to get started. But even though you know how to make a CV in theory, in practice this can still feel kind of tricky. Sometimes it’s better to have a visual, so you get an idea of what your CV should look like. That’s why, if you want to know how to write a CV, examples can come in handy. Need some inspiration before you make your CV? Have a look at all of our CV examples.

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FAQ

  • How do I make a CV?
    The easiest way to make a CV is by using the Jobbird CV builder. Just fill in some information and we’ll do the rest. If you’d rather make your CV yourself, you can use tools like Word to help you. For more tips and tricks, check out our articles about CVs.
  • How do I write a CV using a template?
    A template is a super-easy way to make your CV. Simply choose a template and fill in the necessary information.
  • What does a (good) CV look like?
    A CV contains your personal data, work experience, education and skills. Other things you can add to your CV are a CV profile and a photo.
  • In what order do you set up a CV?
    Add any experience or education to your CV in reverse chronological order. This way the employer can immediately see what your most recent job or education was.
  • How long should a CV be?
    A CV should be no longer than A4 pages (single side). As a starter, one A4 sheet is often more than enough.
  • What font should you use for your CV?
    Choose a font that is easy to read. Sans serif letters read best on a screen and have a mature appearance. Examples include Arial, Calibri, and Verdana. Choose one font for your CV and use it for your cover letter as well.