Creating a Winning Resume/CV – Our Step by Step Guide

Is your resume or CV currently up to date with your most recent job experience, skills, and certifications? When is the last time you’ve reviewed yours? Do you even have a resume/CV to begin with, and do you know what information to include in one? 

If you’ve answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, you’ll certainly want to read on!

To start off, a resume, also known as a curriculum vitae (CV) in some countries, is a document that showcases the professional background of a person. Resumes & CVs are used when applying to jobs, scholarships, or other positions where someone wants to gain an understanding of who you are and the work experience and skills you possess. 

Creating a resume/CV for the first time can seem intimidating. What should you include, what template should you go with, and what are employers looking for? Creating a strong resume/CV can be done by following some simple steps, as well as doing some basic research to understand what information you’ll need to include. 

Below, we’ll discuss our steps for how to create a winning resume/CV!


Understand the purpose of a resume/CV

As stated before, a resume/CV is a document that draws a picture of you by showcasing your work experience, skills, certifications, volunteer experience, leadership positions, and more. It is essentially an autobiography of information that is typically 1-3 pages in length (depending on your country). 

Any time you apply to a job, scholarship, student organization, or other activity, you will most likely be required to submit a resume/CV. Any professional in any industry likely has at least one resume/CV that they keep up to date with their experience. 

Although these are mostly used for professional opportunities, students in high school and college should also consider creating a resume/CV and keeping it updated. The truth is, there is no age limit on when a resume/CV may be needed, so the earlier you create one, the better! 


Choose a template that best represents you

If starting your first resume or CV, it is usually recommended that you start from an existing template.

Templates are great and can save you a ton of time because all you have to do is plug in your information and experiences in the proper sections. There are literally millions of different resume/CV templates out there, which can actually make choosing a template a bit daunting. 

It is usually advised to stick to a simple template and one that is free of flashy colors, designs, and background images. These can sometimes distract readers (aka recruiters and hiring managers) from the actual contents of your resume/CV, and you definitely want to avoid this!

When deciding on a template, you should consider the following: 

  • Is this template easy to read?
  • Does it include distracting images, designs, or colors?
  • What do other resumes or CVs from my country look like?
  • Do I feel this template best represents me?

Of course, choosing a resume/CV template is not a lifelong commitment! You can decide to change up your resume/CV at any time if you want a change of aesthetic. 

For your first time, however, we recommend choosing something very simple. 


Think about what you want to include (and consider your country’s standards)

Arguably the biggest question surrounding resumes and CVs is “what information should I include in the document?” This question becomes a bit difficult to answer, because the truth is that each country has different standards for what is commonly required in a resume/CV. 

That is why it is very important to do some research on resume/CV standards in your country. A simple internet search can show you example resumes/CVs for your country and will help you understand the information that you need to include. 

Most countries across the board require the following information be included on resumes & CVs:

  • Your name & contact information
  • Work experience
  • Educational background
  • Skills
  • Language abilities 

The following information can also be added to a resume/CV, but you’ll want to check your country’s standards first. 

  • Career objective or summary
  • Volunteer experience
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Grade point average
  • Hobbies
  • Driver’s license information
  • A photo of yourself


Have a peer or mentor review your resume/CV

Once you’ve managed to fill in your resume/CV template with all of your information, take a good, thorough look at it. Check for grammar, spelling, and overall aesthetic. Does the final draft look clean, professional, and ready to be submitted?

In addition, it is also wise to get a “second opinion” on your resume or CV by asking a friend, colleague, family member, or mentor to review your resume/CV. Make sure it is someone you trust and someone who can give you real feedback and knows what they’re talking about. Ask them to double-check for spelling and give you their thoughts on the final product. 

If you attend university, we also recommend seeking out the help of your career development or career services office. They often have coaches who can give you strong and professional advice on developing your resume/CV and tailoring it to your specific industry.


Update your resume/CV every quarter 

One major problem is that many people do not update their resume/CV as often as they should. 

This is very important to remember because you never know when you may face a layoff or receive information about an exciting opportunity and need to have an updated resume or CV ready to go. Any time you gain new work experience, a certification, or a job, you should add it to your resume/CV. 

It’s also good to get in the habit of setting a routine, such as updating or checking your resume/CV every few months. As you develop yourself professionally, your resume/CV should grow with you!

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