How can I prepare a perfect CV?

The following tips will help you prepare a CV that is convincing in both form and content.

Layout and formatting

Professional formatting

Prepare a professionally formatted document that makes a positive impression right from the start. Unfortunately, too few applicants give proper attention to formatting their CV so that it is easy to read and visually attractive. In this way, they risk having their job application end up in the wastepaper basket.

  • Assess your CV with a critical eye.
  • Ask someone who can give an objective opinion to read through the document.
  • Revise and correct your CV until it is truly perfect.
  • Be sure to avoid typographic errors.
  • Good printing quality in case of hard-copy letters and sufficient resolution in case of PDF documents are essential aspects of a professional CV.

Organisation and content

1. Personal information

  • The first thing you must state in your CV is your personal data, such as your name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail address, and date of birth.
  • If you wish, you can add a brief personal profile to the basic data. Highlight four or five of your major qualifications for the advertised position. Describe them briefly in terms of your previous achievements and projects. This sets you apart from the other applicants.
  • Always avoid clichés such as "excellent starter", "outstanding team player", "born leader", and "perfect communicator".

2. Chronological employment history with examples of achievements

  • Present your employment history in chronological order. Start with your current position. Bear in mind that the recipient of your CV wants to obtain a first impression as quickly as possible. For this reason, describe the most important aspects (from your perspective) briefly and succinctly.
  • For each position, state the time period, the name and location of the company, the exact job title, and your duties, core responsibilities and achievements.
  • Use examples to illustrate how your work contributed to the success of the company. For instance, if you completed a project below the planned budget, then emphasise this point.
  • Describe your present position in more detail. This is also where the most important success and achievement data for the new position is usually found.

3. Education and training

  • Here again, state the most recent data first. If you have post-secondary education, state the time period, the name and location of the institution, your course of study, the name of the degree, and the subject of your thesis or dissertation.
  • In the case of training courses, state the time period, the name and location of the training course provider, the certificate awarded, and the core topics and achievements.
  • Also state the time period, name and location of the school, and the subjects studied and/or certificates awarded.

4. International experience

  • State your international experience with dates and a brief description.
  • You can note your 'study abroad' period under the entry for your post-secondary education.

5. Additional qualifications and avocations

  • State any relevant further education and training. For example, if you are presently pursuing further education that will soon enhance your qualifications, you can mention this in your CV.
  • Also mention relevant qualifications such as foreign language skills and IT expertise.
  • Activities you have undertaken outside of the work environment, such as volunteer work, should also be mentioned in your CV.

The initial job interview

Your CV influences the job interview

Remember that your CV will have an essential influence on the course of the conversation in the interview. For this reason, make sure that it is free of gaps and vague statements that you will have to rectify with detailed explanations in the interview. Before the interview, consider how you can reply to the usual questions (see "Six critical questions in the job interview").

Your CV: what not to mention

  • A full list of all seminars and training courses you have ever attended
  • Information about your nationality, race, political views, etc.
  • Any mention of a foreign language if you cannot conduct an extensive conversation in this language
  • Your current salary

One final suggestion: if you submit your application by e-mail, make sure that the data volume of your documents is not more than 1 MB. This way you can be sure that they will reach the intended recipient.