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What should be in your CV?

Kia Ora Whanau

Alex here from Costas Enterprises and today I want to start to get into the nitty-gritty of applying for a job.

Your CV! Yep, that’s right it’s time to look at what should be in your CV.

Note: This is just a generic guide to creating/ editing a CV.
As I have previously mentioned in my other post “Before You Apply For A Job” you should be creating a “Master CV” and then editing this, along with your Cover Letter for every job your applying for.

I am not guaranteeing that you will get every single job you apply for following these rules, but this guide might help you get to an interview at the least. I will try break down each section and suggest things like formatting, and guidance of what to cover.

Before We Begin: You do not need a pre-made CV as this guide can help you make one from scratch. If you do want some personal help, you can contact me through my email I do create CV’s and Cover Letters for a price that is significantly cheaper than recruitment providers.

The Big Debate

Ok let’s air this out, there has always been a big debate with CV’s … how long should it be?

In my personal opinion your CV should be no longer than three pages. If you can fit a CV in to two pages it is ideal, but don’t feel like you have to cut everything to fit two pages.
This is your time to show your future employer your representative.
That is what your CV and Cover Letter is made to do.
If you cant do it in three pages because your super qualified, look at cutting some of it down.


This section of your CV is where you announce/ introduce who you are, provide your email, address and phone.

If you are sending your CV electronically, you do not need to say Curriculum Vitae or CV in this intro section. You should instead be correctly saving your file as “Your Name – Curriculum Vitae”.
The employer will open this and see it is your CV.
If you are sending via “snail mail” then at the very top you will place your name (center-aligned) and underneath this place “Curriculum Vitae”.

Basic formatting of the Intro section

As I mentioned above you should be placing your name in the center of the intro section. Bold and colour your name. You don’t have to add a colour if you don’t want, my only suggestion is don’t make it too bright. Instead go with a darker colour like a green, maroon, dark purple, dark blue for example.
Your name should also be the largest font on your CV (but not stupidly large, use your judgement).

All other items in your intro should be Right-Aligned.

You should also provide bold titles of what is being provided, Home Phone, Mobile, Work Email etc …

If you are sending electronically – hyperlink your emails.

Formatting Sections Of Your CV

So what do I mean here? well . . . you want your CV to stand out right? So a way of doing this – without making your CV look too bland is create each heading, make it Bold, Center aligned and if possible try to use a line/ colour or a border section just to clearly break this up from one section to another.

For Example:

Personal Profile

My opinion on a personal profile is quite simply that I prefer not to use them. Now hear me out before you start screaming in the comments that I’m a mad-man. My reason for this is because your Cover Letter, which is the first thing an employer usually reads, is your Personal Profile.

The only time you should use a Personal Profile is if you are starting the workforce and you don’t have much of an employment history. For example you have just left school/ college and have never worked in any organisation.

In these instances, and hopefully only in these instances, you should be providing a Personal Profile.

If you do need/ want to add this, then make your personal profile no more than one paragraph.

You can highlight your goals about what you want to do for the employer, what’s great about you and why you deserve to be working for them … kind of what you should already be saying in your Cover Letter.

Key Skills/ Skills/ Qualities/ Capabilities

This section is really important. If you go back to my “Before you apply for a job” post (you can find it above) you will notice that I discuss identifying your skills. In this Master CV, your going to list all of these skills here.

Some employers like to see a bulleted list, others would prefer an explanation of the skill.

I suggest combining these a little. Instead of the bulleted list, Bold the title of each of your skills. Next, provide a one to two sentence example of this skill.

Remember that the skills you mention here can be interchanged with each new CV you create and send out. You can also develop some of these skills into your STAR examples (check out “What are S.T.A.R examples and how do I create one?”).

An example of potential skills are:

Excellent Communication SkillsOrganisational SkillsTime Management Skills
FlexibilityAdaptabilityAle to work within a team environment or independently
Judgement/ Decision MakingProblem SolvingNetwork and/or Relationship Management skills
Example of Skills to be included in a CV

So how do I expand on these?

You might say something like:
Working independently or in a group – In all of my roles there has been some aspect of both working independently or as part of a team and I have no issue working in either environment.

So how many skills should I put in each CV?

Ok for your Master CV – list all of these!

For each CV you send out, you should have already identified what are the main skills the employer is actually looking for. Simply copy and paste these in to your “Job-Specific” CV.

Work Experience/ Employment History/ Employment Summary

This part of the CV is where people get a bit confused.

You see we were all taught at school that in your CV, after your skills/ personal profile, your supposed to place your Education … Yeah … lets squash that now.
Employers for the most part don’t really want to see your education first, unless your being hired by a school/ tertiary provider. Even then they would want to see what experience you have first!

Your work experience should, in the first instance, be chronological listed especially if your have had no breaks in your work history. This means that your last/ current job should be the first job your future employer should see.

But what if I don’t have any work experience or I have been “taking an extended break”?
Look, life gets in the way and if you have had a Eric Forman year(s) off, or your fresh into the workforce you may instead consider to focus more on the skills and any potential work experience you may have and can show.

Now let me be quite clear, just because you may not have worked does not mean that you do not have work experience. You can have other experience and this section can be also used for any part-time/ volunteer work/ temp work.

If you have no work experience, it’s always OK to be upfront about this. You can shine in other aspects of your CV and Cover Letter.

So what should this section have?

Your Work Experience section should be set out like this:

Name of employer Date worked for employer (Be as specific or vague as possible)
Team you worked for
Position you held

Brief Description of the role. No more than two to three sentences.

Duties Include:

  • List all of the duties you completed,
  • While working on this role,
  • Specifically mention any of the skills you used, as requested by the job you are applying for.


So for example Clark Kent’s Work Experience might look like:

Daily Planet 1938 – Current

As a reporter for The Daily Planet, I have created and published high quality articles to be distributed by Metropolis’s leading media outlet. I have specific knowledge and experience interviewing Superman and used my excellent written communication skills and time management skills to deliver my articles, on time and in a medium that can be understood and interpreted by all.

Duties include but not limited to:

  • Providing team mentoring to all other staff members
  • Using initiative to find a story and follow up before any competitors get a scoop
  • Provide excellent network relationships between Superman and myself as a representative to The Daily Planet
  • Provide Health and Safety advice as the Chief Health & Safety Officer and Fire Warden for the bullpen
  • Provide proof reading for fellow reporters.


The last thing I want to mention here about work experience is, if you have moved around a lot due to working in different places, you don’t have to list out all of the duties for every single job like above. Just focus on any jobs that are going to be relevant to the job you are applying for now.

This is the same as if you have stayed with the same employer for years but have done many different roles. List the employer and your time as that role individually under the over-arching employer time. If you worked for McDonald’s for twenty years, but only spent 2 years as the CEO and director of the franchise, You might say McDonald’s and the total time worked and then filter down the next line with CEO 2018 – 2020 as per the format above.

For all other jobs which may not be relevant for the job you are currently applying for and/or times when you may not have been working you can simply copy the first two lines of the Clark Kent example. The name of the job, time worked and the job you had. For those of you that have had those breaks, this can be a simple one line explanation of what you were doing and a time frame.

Honesty with your future employer is the best way to sell yourself. Your CV should make you feel proud not make you feel shamed. Your new employer will appreciate you saying that you spent a year travelling as opposed to seeing a unexplained gap in your CV.


If your fresh out of study then this will probably be your biggest section.

What belongs in this section?

Your education … but how much do you need to include?

If your fresh out of study and/or haven’t been in the workforce for a while then it’s good to list all of your education from your highest and last obtained qualification first and then list every other qualification you have gained.

Now if you have been in the workforce for a while, you should update this section with any other relevant qualifications you may have gained .. Like Clarke Kent gaining the Health and Safety certificate which allows him to be the Chief H&S officer for The Daily Planet.

Your education will look similar to the work experience but wont be that large. The main thing is make it relevant. If you have spent the last 7 years at University studying Law, you don’t have to include your national certificate in cooking you gained when you were fifteen.

For Example, Peter Parker’s education may look like:

Empire State University 2016 – 2019
PhD in Bio-Medical Radiation science
Thesis: “The cause and effect of radiation cross blending between arachnid and human physiology.”

Also don’t feel like you actually have to put your education history in your CV. I personally never gained high qualifications, but I have worked for the last 17 years and the skills I have gained can be detailed without needing to add my previous education so I simply don’t have an Education section.

Interests/ Hobbies/ Extra Curricular Activities

Some people think that they have to add this section into their CV to make them seem more approachable/ fun/ fill out their CV/ pick whatever excuse you want… but it is not always necessary.

If you feel strongly that you need to show your are humorous, like taking long walks on the beach, eating … share with the employer your social media account. Your CV is a representative of what you will be like at work.

If your hobbies are part of the reason you are applying for the job, then by all means include this, but also mention it in your Cover Letter. You will be sure to grab the attention of the employer both ways.

If you CV is getting long .. like over three pages long then this is the first section I suggest to remove.


We all like to show what a great job we are doing right? Achievements is a place you can do this.

I only suggest that if you list any achievements, make them relevant in the correct sections of your CV.

What do I mean by this?, if you achieved top of your class at Rydell High, then this should go under Education. If you helped your employer close that one in a million deal, then put this under the employer for Work Experience.

Your Achievements section, if you decide to have one, should be reserved for extra-curricular activities, specifically if this activity is part of the reason you are applying for this job.

So say you work in a call centre, but your really proud of becoming an official Amazon Affiliate that generates passive income through social media… This is not really an achievement you would list. Unless you’re applying for a job where social media marketing is required, and you want to show you can add insight and skills within this role.

Referees/ References

To provide, or not to provide.
That is the question!

Whether tis nobler to … ok you get the picture.

There is a lot of dived thought around this.

My personal suggestion. Provide the phrase “References to be provided upon request” – or something similar of that nature.

The reasoning for this is because you are asking to be contacted, you will know a few things:

  1. That you have made it to the third and final stage of the recruitment as referees are usually only contacted after a successful interview, and;
  2. You can provide relevant references .

What do you mean “relevant references”?

Ok follow me down the rabbit hole on this one, If you provide your referees at the start, and you have not personally called them to warn that they may be recieving a call they may not give you a good reference.

This is not because they want to throw shade at you, more that you don’t get a chance to let them know what type of job you are applying for and the potential skills the employer may ask about.


Ok so lets make this clear these are the headings you should be looking at if creating a new CV:

  • Introduction – Name Address …
  • Personal Profile – (optional) – I advise not to add this unless new to workforce
  • Skills – In your master CV list all skills, In Job application CV – three to four skills max
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Hobbies/ Interest/ Achievements (Optional) – Again I would suggest not adding these in the first instance unless they are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Referees/ References

That about does it for this post and thanks for sticking to the end!

As mentioned above I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the links below and buy anything, then I can get a commision from this. This would greatly help me grow this business. This time I wanted to make it a bit more fun as sometimes we need that little chuckle. So without further ado ..

Until next time, have a awesome day, and thanks for all your support.

Feel free to comment, like, subscribe or all three!!!

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