*if you think mine looks aight
Although these are arguably just simple suggestions, it goes without saying that what I wrote here is my personal opinion. These are not definitive rules and you should use these suggestions as a general guideline to explore what suits your situation best. You can also find the CV template I use on both github and overleaf.
- Try out ideas: Iterate over different designs, experiment with different wordings. Don’t hesitate to scrap things.
- Help the reader: Remember that person reading your CV might not know every scientific term in your field. Use simple words where you can.
- Don’t lie: It won’t get anyone far. Though it’s alright to shift the focus and talk less about unwanted stuff.
- Keep it simple: Colors, charts, shapes… It’s mostly a good idea to avoid all of them. Another rule of thumb is to use a serif typeface, which is both readable and professional.
- Be consistent: Pick a style and just follow it. For example, if you write a company’s name in bold, you should probably make all of them bold. Definitely stick to a typeface or two.
- Mind the gap: All blank parts are important for readability. Try to have some room in between headings, paragraphs and lines. Not having sufficient page margins would go horribly wrong.
- Leave aside personal stuff: Like your marital status or your birthdate, unless you think it is really relevant for the position somehow.
- But not all of them: Name, address, phone, email must be there. Your name should be more than just visible. Don’t forget to include your professional web presence, if you have any.
- E-mail is a must: If you have an institutional one it may be a good idea to use it. For personal adresses, try to use a professional-sounding one — like something with your name in it. If you don’t have one, just set up a new one.
- Keep it up-to-date: Your CV should tell what have you been doing until now. Specifically try to avoid any possible confusion on your current status.
- Don’t leave gaps: Without any explanation, at least. Try to bring out the positive aspects of your gap while also being honest about them.
- Explain yourself: A cover letter could always be a good addition. If not, a summary or an objective driven introduction in your CV would also do good.
- Keep it short: One-pager is always the best option. Do not use more than one page, especially if you’re just going to keep it mostly empty. More than two pages is a no-no. If necessary, you can use a website for your portfolio or other details.
- Be succinct: Same idea also applies for sentences and paragraphs. Keep them short, break the longer ones into short ones. You can use more detail in your cover letter or such.
- Be self-explanatory: No need to write a “Curriculum Vitae” on top, no need to write “Email:” before your email. Leave out clutter where you can.
- No mistakes: There is no excuse for any errors, even for a typo or a grammatical error. CVs are all about leaving a good first impression.
- Proofread: Again and again, just in case. Ask your friends, colleagues. Grammar & spell checkers are handy, but they may have their limitations.
- Get help: Not only for proofreading, but also for all kinds of suggestions. There are career centers in universities for students and graduates, make use of their help.
- Detail your work: Don’t just say you worked somewhere for some time. Try to explain what did you do, how did you do it and what did you achieve or what positive effect your work had. One sentence for each should be manageable.
- Show, don’t tell: A team player and a problem solver? Who says so? Try to show off your skills with your work. Same applies for assessments like “proficient in Java” or “expert in Python”.
- Fill it: When in doubt with a detail and if it’s not really irrelevant, put it. It doesn’t have to explicitly fulfill a requirement for the job.
- Keep it relevant: That does not mean that you should talk about everything you ever did in your CV. Try to tailor the content for the specific position.
- Guide the reader: Bullet points, horizontal rules, spaced out sections… whatever makes it more readable. Remember, it’s your CV, you decide on the pace.
- Sort the stuff: For example, if you are a student or a fresh grad it is generally quite a good idea to talk about your education first. You decide on what’s important and what’s less.
- Reverse chronological order: Is the way to go. List the most recent positions and achievements first inside every section.
- Photograph: People just do not use them on CVs anymore. LinkedIn, social media or a personal website can provide a professional one.
- References: Are available on request, right? If they really are, why not. If you are putting such a claim on your CV, your references must be informed beforehand.
- Hobbies: Put them, as long as it is more than just “reading books, traveling and sports”. It is a nice idea to underline soft skills with your hobbies, if it applies.
If you think anything is missing or misleading, please do tell.