How to Write a CV

How to Write a CV

Creating a standout CV is crucial in the competitive job market. A well-crafted CV not only showcases your qualifications but also demonstrates your commitment to the position. Here’s a comprehensive guide on writing an effective CV, brought to you by edX.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a CV?
  2. Tips for Writing an Effective CV
  3. CV FAQ

What is a CV?

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a document that details your professional and academic history. It includes your education, employment, awards, and other relevant achievements.

CV vs. Résumé: While the terms CV and résumé are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. A CV is typically longer and more detailed, especially in academic or research settings, whereas a résumé is more concise and focused on professional experience.

Tips for Writing an Effective CV

Sarah Han, a career coach at edX, shares five essential tips for crafting a compelling CV:

1. Make an Impression Within 30 Seconds

First impressions matter. Your CV should be clear, concise, and visually appealing to grab the employer’s attention quickly.

  • Concise Text: Be direct and to the point.
  • Headings and Subheadings: Break up text to enhance readability.
  • Bullet Points: Use these to list skills and experience.
  • Avoid Jargon: Ensure clarity by avoiding unnecessary acronyms.

Consider creating multiple CV versions tailored to specific roles. For instance, a CV for a UX designer might include a visually engaging layout, while a text-based version can be optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

2. Present Yourself as a Problem Solver

Highlight your problem-solving skills by providing specific examples and quantifiable results.

  • Specific Problems: Detail the types of problems you’ve solved.
  • Quantify Results: Use numbers to show impact (e.g., “Increased customer satisfaction by 10%”).
  • Data Storytelling: Use data to make your achievements more credible and persuasive.

3. Highlight Key Information

Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for by including relevant skills and experiences.

  • Keywords: Incorporate keywords from the job description.
  • Detailed Experience: Specify the extent of your skills (e.g., “Five years of experience using Microsoft Office”).

4. Research the Company

Understand the company’s culture, values, and goals to align your CV with their expectations.

  • Company Research: Visit their website, read their mission statement, and follow them on social media.
  • Network: Connect with current employees or contacts within the company for insights.

5. Prepare a New CV for Each Job

Customize your CV for each application to increase your chances of success.

  • Quality Over Quantity: A tailored CV is more impactful than a generic one.
  • Repeat Keywords: Use language from the job description to show familiarity with the role.


CV vs Résumé: A traditional CV is a detailed document used primarily in academic and research environments, while a résumé is shorter and focuses on professional experience. In some regions, a CV is the standard job application document.

What to Include in a CV?: Your CV should contain your name, contact information, work history, technical and transferable skills, and other relevant details tailored to the role you’re applying for.

Additional Tips for Writing a CV: Proofread carefully and consider using tools like JobScan to match your CV with the job description. Having someone in the industry review your CV can also provide valuable feedback.

What Does CV Stand For?: CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin. It is a comprehensive document detailing your educational, professional, and research experiences.

Final Words

Crafting a well-written CV tailored to each job application can significantly enhance your chances of landing an interview and advancing your career. Use these tips to create a CV that stands out to employers and showcases your qualifications effectively.

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