Tips on what should you keep, and what to cut from a CV

The rules have changed

After spotting an appealing job ad, the all-important next step is to reach out to the employer. And the best way to make a good impression is with a persuasive cover letter and an immaculate CV, and following the latest resume trends.

While some areas like photos and hobbies remain hotly debated, most HR experts say you can still begin by listing off recent employment.

“Start with your most recent position,” is the classic ground rule that still applies, says Corinna Sponer-Kessinger, a managing consultant at von Rundstedt, a career and outplacement consultancy in Frankfurt.

Another idea is creating a cover sheet for your resume, says Jutta Boenig, a career consulting expert who chairs the board for the German Society for Career Advice (DGfK).

Here, photos can either be a no-go or a welcome addition, depending on what country the company is based in. While in many cultures photos on CVs are still accepted, hiring managers in some western countries warn they only fuel racial, gender and ageist bias.

Next is a summary of your abilities, ideally using key points to enable your reader to gain a swift impression of who you are. That means listing facts, along the lines of “management responsibility for 30 people” or “responsible for a budget of”, rather than characteristics such as being creative or eager to perform.

You can then get into more detail by listing your previous professional activities, and below these, the successes you achieved.

Follow that with a section on your further training, and then any internships, and lastly, your education. Always put the most recent item higher up then go back in time.

Put separate entries for higher education or vocational training in their own area in the training section.

Lastly, finish up with areas of further knowledge, languages, IT and skills. Hobbies aren’t a must, but they can help you give a more rounded picture of your personality, HR experts say.

What about school education? “To some people it feels old-fashioned, if you have a university degree, to also put your high school on your CV,” says Boenig. Obviously, if you have some level of higher education, you are likely to have a high-school diploma.

At the very least, you should cut out elementary school. Most people in charge of hiring at a company will give your CV little more than a minute or two to read, meaning you want to keep their attention on the most salient points.

You don’t need to list every internship in your curriculum vitae either. A rule of thumb is the older they are, the less relevant they are to your current CV.

The good news for anyone with a few years behind them is that applicants do not necessarily have to fit everything onto one page.

“Depending on your professional experience, your CV can easily run over three to four pages,” says Sponer-Kessinger. Make sure it is relevant experience, though, to the job you are applying for.

While there are plenty of CV templates available online, be wary, says Boenig. You are better off creating your own individual CV. If you are going to use one you found online, do adapt it a bit to add an individual touch, she says. – dpa

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