The basics
Study abroad : Essentials

Essentials: Top 5 CV tips

How do you write an effective CV? Read our quick guide for some easy tips to improve yours now...

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If you’re lucky, you won’t have to submit many CVs in your lifetime. However right now as a student, you should have one as this can come in useful for several purposes. A CV is essential if you’re looking for a part-time job to help fund your studies abroad, while some institutions may require you to provide one as part the admissions process. Plus it’s always good practise to be able to transfer your skills and experience onto paper effectively.

 

So what makes a strong CV? Take a look at our 5 top tips below:

 

Note: This is a quick guide to writing your CV; you can read our full guide to CVs here.

 

Read the job advert or prompts

If you’re applying for a job, carefully read the job role, description and responsibilities which are listed in the advert (or where you hear about the role). If you’re putting together a CV as part of an admissions process, you can be slightly broader (though think about what qualities that institution will be looking for – read the prospectus or other materials which cover the kinds of students they’re looking for). These are all prompts which are being provided so you deliver the kind of information which an employer/admissions department is looking for. So listen to them!

 

Plan ahead

You should write down a (chronological) list of all the work and academic experience and achievements you’ve had so far. This is good for reminding you of everything you’ve done or achieved which can be helpful (especially if it’s been a while since these or if you’ve done a lot). Once you’ve made this list, you can pick and choose which to include for different roles and purposes. You should always tailor a CV for specific jobs or purposes, rather than send out the same CV for every job.

 

Play with the format

There are a few different ways to structure and display the information which makes up your CV. There are definitely some no-nos but you shouldn’t feel like there is just one, proper way. Some principles to follow can include:

  • List your most recent experience first
  • Avoid unorthodox or informal font or font colours
  • While it’s not necessary, if you do include a photo of yourself, ensure it is appropriate for a formal context
  • Make sure key information can be extracted quickly

 

Proofread

Make sure you re-read your CV before sending it off. If you’re adapting it for each job or purpose, you’ll be making changes so it’s natural that you might make a typo when doing this. A spelling, punctuation or grammar mistake will look really bad on your part, particularly if attention to detail is a requirement for the role. If you’ve spent several hours on your CV, proofread it on another day or once you’ve taken a break; you’ll have spent so much time staring at it that you’ll lose the ability to notice any mistakes or way to improve your CV.

 

Get a 2nd (and 3rd opinion)

You should also ask someone else to look at your CV as a fresh pair of eyes always come in helpful. Another person will notice mistakes you wouldn’t as well as bring a different perspective. If you can, try to get someone who has experience looking at CVs in a professional context such as a parent or family friend who has recruited someone previously. Your school may also have a careers counsellor or department who can provide assistance when putting your CV together.

 

 

Read more:

‘Phone (and Skype) interviews: Dos and Don’ts’

‘Who can I ask to be a reference?’

‘Reference letters: Things to consider’

 

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.