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9 Key Elements To Include In Your CV

Here, we look at the 9 key elements you NEED to include in your CV to give you the best chance of success during your job applications.

Article Author

By Jess Wriggle

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We’ve analysed over 2 million CVs in the last 6 months.

We wanted to answer the question, what are the key elements you need to include in your CV?

Here, we have included the 9 key elements you NEED to include in your CV to give you the best chance for success during job applications.

Before we get into the key elements you need in your CV, let's clear a few things up first…

Why do you even need a CV in 2023?

So… as we probably all know, a CV is a simple document that outlines your educational and professional background.

It will typically be required as part of a job application and is used to give hiring managers an overview of your qualifications and experience.

The primary purpose of a CV is to help you secure an interview for a job. It provides a summary of your skills, experiences, and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

It is a way to showcase your qualifications and makes a solid first impression on a potential employer - your moment of WOW!

So, the point of a CV is to present a clear and comprehensive picture of your professional background and qualifications and to demonstrate to a potential employer that you are a strong candidate for the job.

How long does it take an employer to review a CV?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the time it takes for employers to look at CVs can vary depending on several factors.

Some employers may review CVs as soon as they receive them, while others may wait until they have a larger pool of candidates to review.

Generally, it is a good idea to assume that employers will spend at least a few minutes reviewing your CV. They may also spend additional time reviewing your CV if they are interested in scheduling an interview.

If you are still waiting to hear back from an employer after submitting your CV, it is typically appropriate to wait at least a week before following up. You can send a brief email asking if they have had a chance to review your application and if there is any additional information you can provide.

It is important to remember that the job search process can take time, and you may need to apply to multiple positions before receiving an offer. It is a good idea to remain patient and persistent during the job search process.

How long should your CV be?

Your work experience should determine the length of your CV. It is a good idea to aim for a CV that is two to three pages long.

A two-page CV is usually sufficient if you have less than five years of professional experience. If you have more than five years of experience or are applying for a position requiring a more extensive work history, a three-page CV may be appropriate.

Content is the most vital part of your CV, not the length. Your CV should include only the most relevant and significant information and be tailored to the specific job requirements you are applying for - don't waffle.

Ultimately, the goal of your CV is to showcase your qualifications and experiences in a way that is concise and easy to read while also highlighting your strengths and accomplishments.

In fact, we created a guide with 5 quick steps to create a CV to help you quickly create your CV when you have the content ready.

Here's a quick snapshot of the key sections you need in your CV:

  1. Contact information
  2. Professional summary
  3. Work experience
  4. Education
  5. Skills
  6. Accomplishments
  7. Professional development
  8. References
  9. Additional information
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1. Contact Information

Including your contact information on your CV is important because it allows hiring managers to quickly get in touch with you to schedule an interview or ask for additional information.

It also gives them a way to contact you if interested in offering you a job, win win.

It also allows you to maintain control over how employers contact you. For example, if you only want to be contacted via email, you can include your email address but not your phone number.

Finally, including your contact information on your CV is a professional standard, and failure to do so may make it seem like you need to be more serious about the job.

In the contact information section, you should include the following:

  1. Your full name: This should be displayed prominently at the top of your CV.
  2. Your email address: Make sure to use a professional-sounding email rather than a personal one.
  3. Your phone number: Include a phone number where you can be reached during business hours.
  4. Your location: If you are willing to relocate for the job, you can include your current location. You can also mention that if you are only interested in positions in a specific location.
  5. Your LinkedIn profile: If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can include a link in your contact information section.

It’s also a good idea to include a personal website or online portfolio, if you have one, as this can give hiring managers a more comprehensive view of your work and experience.

2. Professional Summary

A professional summary, also known as a profile statement, is a summary of your skills and experiences that is included at the top of your CV. You should tailor it to the job you are applying for and highlight your most relevant qualifications and experiences.

If you have a winning LinkedIn profile already, just grab your content from LinkedIn.

A professional summary is an important part of your CV because it gives hiring managers a quick overview of your skills and experience. It is usually one of the first things a hiring manager will read when reviewing your CV, so making a solid first impression is vital.

A well-written professional summary can help you stand out from other candidates by highlighting your key achievements and qualifications. It can also demonstrate how you are a good fit for the specific job you are applying for.

Including a professional summary in your CV allows you to control the narrative of your professional background. It allows you to highlight the most important and relevant aspects of your experience and skills and present yourself in the best possible light.

Overall, a professional summary is valuable to your CV because it helps showcase your strengths and qualifications and gives hiring managers a quick overview of your background and suitability for the job.

Some things you may want to include in your professional summary are:

  1. Your current job title or career level
  2. A brief overview of your work history and relevant skills
  3. Your key achievements and accomplishments
  4. Any relevant certifications or qualifications
  5. Your career goals and areas of expertise

Keep your professional summary concise and to the point. It should be a maximum of a few sentences long and focus on the most relevant and impressive aspects of your background.

Here is an example of a professional summary:

“Experienced project manager with a proven track record of successfully delivering complex projects on time and within budget. Skilled in project planning, stakeholder management, and risk assessment. Holds a PMP certification and a bachelor’s degree in engineering.”

3. Work Experience

Including work experience in your CV is important because it shows potential employers that you have relevant skills and experience for the position you are applying for.

It demonstrates your ability to perform in a professional setting and to take on responsibilities.

And… it helps to give a sense of your career progression and can highlight any achievements or notable projects you have worked on.

Ultimately, including work experience in your CV helps to give a more well-rounded and complete picture of your abilities and can help you stand out to potential employers.

Your work experience section on your CV should include a reverse-chronological list of your previous jobs, including the following information:

  1. Job title: The title of the position you held at each company.
  2. Company name: The name of the company where you worked.
  3. Dates of employment: The dates you worked at each company.
  4. Key responsibilities: A summary of your responsibilities and duties in each position.
  5. Achievements: Any notable achievements or accomplishments you had in each position.

Be as specific and detailed as possible when describing your work experience. Hiring managers want to know what you have done in the past and how it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

Consider including any relevant internships or volunteer work and any freelance or consulting work you have done.

Finally, using bullet points and action verbs is a good idea to make your work experience section easy to read and understand.

4. Education

The education section of a CV is used to list your academic qualifications and any professional certifications or licenses.

Here, you should list the degrees, diplomas, and certifications you have obtained. The education section demonstrates to potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills required for the job.

Including your education on your CV can also help you stand out from other candidates who may have similar work experience but have yet to gain educational qualifications. Employers often place a high value on education and may consider it a key factor in their hiring decisions.

It can highlight any relevant coursework or projects you completed as part of your degree program. Showing employers that you have specific skills or knowledge relevant to the job you are applying for.

Overall, including an education section on your CV is an excellent way to showcase your academic achievements and show you have the qualifications and skills necessary to succeed in the role you are applying for.

Here are some things you might include in this section:

  1. The name of the degree you earned and the field of study.
  2. The name of the school, college, or university you attended.
  3. The location of the institution.
  4. The dates you attended the institution.
  5. Any relevant coursework or academic achievements.
  6. Any academic honours or awards you received.
  7. Any professional certifications or licenses you have obtained.

It is generally a good idea to list your education in reverse chronological order, with your most recent qualifications first. You should also include the highest level of education you have completed and any relevant technical or vocational training you have received.

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5. Skills

The skills section of a CV highlights the abilities and competencies that a candidate has that are relevant to the job they are applying for. Including a skills section on your CV is important because it helps demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary abilities and experience to perform the job effectively.

Here are some examples of skills that you may want to include on your CV:

  1. Hard skills: These are specific technical skills and knowledge required to perform a job. Examples of hard skills include programming languages, software proficiency, and data analysis.
  2. Soft skills: These are personal attributes and interpersonal abilities that are important for most jobs. Examples of soft skills include communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.
  3. Language skills: If you are proficient in more than one language, list them in your CV. This can be particularly useful if you are applying for a job requiring language skills or if you are applying for a job in a country where the primary language is different from yours.
  4. Computer skills: In today’s digital age, many jobs require basic computer skills such as word processing, spreadsheet management, and email. Be sure to highlight any computer skills you have on your CV.
  5. Specific skills related to the job: If particular skills are required for the job you are applying for, be sure to highlight them on your CV. For example, consider including content creation, SEO, and social media management skills if you apply for a marketing role.

6. Accomplishments

The accomplishments section of your CV is a place to showcase the achievements you are most proud of and relevant to the job you are applying for.

Including accomplishments in your CV can help you stand out from other candidates and demonstrate the value you can bring to a potential employer. When an employer reviews a stack of CVs, they are looking for reasons to invite candidates for an interview.

Including specific, quantifiable achievements can help you capture their attention and show that you are a top performer.

Your accomplishments can also help an employer understand the tasks and responsibilities you have handled in the past. This can give them a better sense of your skills and abilities and help them determine whether you are a good fit for the position they are trying to fill.

Overall, the accomplishments section of your CV is an opportunity to highlight your most impressive and relevant achievements and to demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified and talented professional.

Some ideas of what you could include in this section might be:

  1. Awards and honours you have received
  2. Publications you have written
  3. Research projects you have completed
  4. Professional certifications you have obtained
  5. Volunteer work or community service you have participated in
  6. Leadership roles you have held
  7. Significant contributions you have made to your previous employers
  8. Problems you have solved or challenges you have overcome in your professional life
  9. Results or metrics you have improved or achieved in your past roles

It’s essential to be specific and quantify your accomplishments whenever possible, for example:

“Increased sales by 25% over 6 months” or “Implemented a new filing system that reduced search time for client documents by 50%.”

7. Professional Development

Adding a professional development section in your CV shows you are proactive in seeking opportunities to learn and grow in your career.

Especially important for early-career professionals who may still need to gain experience in their field, as it shows that they are committed to developing their skills and knowledge.

Professional development can also be relevant for more experienced professionals who want to showcase their ongoing efforts to stay current in their field and broaden their expertise.

There are several types of information that you may want to include in the professional development section of your CV:

  1. Training courses: List any courses you have completed that are relevant to your current career goals. Be sure to include the name of the course, the institution where you completed it, and the date.
  2. Certifications: If you have any certifications, such as a teaching certificate or a certification in a specific software program, be sure to include these in your professional development section.
  3. Conferences and workshops: If you have attended any conferences or workshops related to your field, you can list these in your professional development section.
  4. Professional memberships: If you are a member of any professional organisations, you can include this information in your professional development section.
  5. Online courses: If you have completed any courses or MOOCs (massive open online courses), you can also include these in your professional development section.

Keep this section of your CV up to date; it shows employers that you are actively working to improve your skills and stay current in your field.

8. References

There are several reasons why you might want to include references on your CV:

  1. To provide additional information about your skills and experience: Your references can speak to your work ethic, abilities, and achievements in a way that may not be apparent from your CV alone.
  2. To demonstrate your professional network: Including references on your CV can show that you have a strong network of professional contacts and are well-respected in your field.
  3. To give the employer more confidence in your abilities: If an employer sees that you have positive references from previous supervisors or colleagues, it can give them more confidence in your abilities and increase the chances that they will offer you the job.
  4. To provide an additional source of information for the employer: Your references can provide additional information about your skills and experience that are not covered in your CV or during the interview process.

The references section of your CV should include the following information:

  • Name: Include the full name of each of your references.
  • Title: Include the job title of each of your references.
  • Company: Include the name of the company where each of your references works.
  • Contact information: Include the email address and phone number for each reference.
  • Relationship: It is helpful to include a brief statement about your relationship with each of your references, such as “a supervisor at XYZ Company” or “colleague at ABC Company”.

Only include references on your CV if you have permission and feel confident they will speak positively about you. You should also provide the employer with your references' current and accurate contact information.

9. Additional information

So this is pretty much anything that doesn’t fit into the other eight sections.

Anything you think will aid your application, add it here.

Only add it if it's going to help, don’t add information for the sake of it.

What next?

Creating the content for your CV is the most challenging and time-consuming part.

Now, you can start to format your CV with the best CV builders and use the best tools that will get you hired to make your job search journey successful.

Next, start searching for your dream job on the world's biggest job boards.

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