Crafting the perfect curriculum vitae—or CV—means taking the time to revise and improve it throughout your professional life. By making consistent improvements to your CV, you can create a standout document that highlights your qualifications to employers. In this article, we review what a CV is, why it is important to enhance your CV and 10 ways to enhance your CV for the best results.
What is a CV?
A CV is a professional document that outlines your work and education experiences in great detail. This can include extensive information about the courses you took in college and specific projects or research papers you wrote as a part of your coursework. CVs are typically used in the place of a resume when you apply for jobs in academia. However, in some countries outside the United States like Australia, a CV is considered to be the same as a resume.
Related: Q&A: How Long Should a CV be?
Why is it important to enhance your CV?
It is important to enhance your CV because you can stay up-to-date on CV trends and incorporate them into your own document. You can also use this as an opportunity to refresh your writing and add additional education and work experiences that you have not yet included. This allows you to submit your CV to employers with little revision. Enhancing your CV could also improve your chances of getting an interview, thanks to the improvements you made.
10 ways to enhance your CV
There are several ways you can enhance your CV. Here are a few to consider applying to your own, along with examples:
- Change your objective statement to a CV profile.
- Add quantifiable statements throughout.
- Ensure your CV is two or more pages in length.
- Create multiple CVs for different industries.
- Revise the font and format throughout.
- Add a summary to each experience about what you learned.
- Remove references to create more space for experiences.
- Shorten paragraphs for enhanced readability.
- Incorporate keywords that relate to specific jobs.
- Always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.
1. Change your objective statement to a CV profile
An objective statement can be a smart way to summarize your qualifications if you are just starting your career. However, a CV profile can provide a more thorough summary of your qualifications, which allows employers to get a quick overview of all you have to offer. You can place your CV profile at the top of your CV, just below your name and contact details. CV profiles can include the following components:
- Professional Profile heading: Use the heading "Professional Profile" or a relevant title to introduce your statement. You could also title it, "Career Objectives," "Personal Statement," "Profile Statement," etc.)
- One to two paragraph professional statement: The length of your CV profile is up to you, but it is best summarized in one to two short paragraphs so as not to overwhelm the reader. In this statement, you can use the third or first person to describe your professional traits and background.
- Skills heading: This is an optional component of your CV profile. However, it allows employers to get a sense of your qualifications.
- Bulleted list of skills: Include a bulleted list of skills under the "Skills" heading. You can include relevant skills along with certifications you currently hold. Structure this section to include groupings of three or four bullet points that take up horizontal space.
Related: Q&A: What Is a CV Profile?
2. Add quantifiable statements throughout
Just like on a resume, you want to demonstrate to employers what you accomplished in addition to your responsibilities when talking about professional and academic experiences. This helps employers determine the results you could potentially bring to their business. For example, instead of saying, "I coordinated events while overseeing a team of event specialists," say: "I coordinated over 200 events while overseeing a team of 15 event specialists."
3. Ensure your CV is two or more pages in length
Unlike a resume where the average length is between one or two pages, CVs encourage professionals to go in-depth with their experiences and qualifications. Two pages are okay if you are just starting your career, but if you have held multiple jobs, achieved several certifications or done a lot of volunteering, use the CV's length expectations to your advantage and aim between two to four pages.
4. Create multiple CVs for different industries
Another way to enhance your CV is to create multiple documents for different areas of your expertise. For example, if you have experience working as a history professor, but you also have experience as a researcher and author, consider creating three different CVs that highlight each area of relevant expertise. If you want to pursue a writing job, create a CV that specifically showcases your previous educational experiences and jobs that qualify you for a writing position.
This enhancement tactic might be more useful to those with years of professional experience because it allows you to organize them and discuss them in greater detail.
5. Revise the font and format throughout
Besides enhancing the content of your CV, you can also revise the overall format of your CV for a more appealing look. Some standard professional fonts include Times New Roman, Calibri, Avenir and Helvetica, while people tend to use other fonts like Courier, Futura and Comic Sans in creative and decorative circumstances. Also, review the amount of white space in your CV, restructure your CV so that each section fills these white spaces. You can do this by centering headings and making horizontal lists.
6. Add a summary to each experience about what you learned
This is an optional element, but it can be a great way to increase page length while also showing employers what specific skills, habits and lessons you learned from each professional and educational experience. For example, for a job as a marketing manager, you could include the summary: "From my time as a marketing manager with Clawson Marketing Solutions, I developed an understanding of inbound marketing strategies, and how these methods could invoke cost-saving initiatives within a larger marketing campaign."
7. Remove references to create more space for experiences
To enhance your CV, remove any references you might have included for past jobs. You can give these references to an employer as a separate document along with your CV. This gives you more room to expand on your work and educational experiences. You can also simplify your reference section only to include the name, relationship and contact details for two or more references for employers to contact. For example:
Name: Jordan Smith
Relationship: Former supervisor
8. Shorten paragraphs for enhanced readability
Just like a resume, employers might not have time to read through everything on your CV. That is why it is important to make your paragraphs small, between two to three sentences in length. This is more pleasing to the eye and makes it easier for employers to skim through your qualifications. You can also shorten paragraphs by transforming written lists into a bulleted format where appropriate.
For example, instead of saying: "I learned how to communicate better with teammates, prioritize time management and develop problem-solving skills," you could say something like: "From my role as a project manager, I learned to:
- Streamline communication with teammates
- Prioritize time management
- Develop problem-solving skills"
9. Incorporate keywords that relate to specific jobs
Keywords are a great way to enhance your CV and improve the chances that employers select it from a pile of other applicants. You can find keywords by reviewing a job posting for desired candidate skills and qualifications. For example, a civil engineer job posting says that applicants need to be dedicated, energetic and experienced in physics and geology. Use the keywords "dedicated" and "energetic" in your CV profile and highlight physics and geology under your skills.
If the employer uses an applicant tracking system (ATS), then it is programmed to select applications that include relevant words and phrases from the job description.
10. Always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes
Be sure to always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation when reading through your CV. You might notice mistakes that you did not see in the past, and you can make corrections to improve the quality of your CV. You can also print out a copy of your CV to look for mistakes, install a software program designed to catch errors or have someone else read over your CV to identify potential mistakes.