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Writing a good CV. Rostislav Titov, CERN. Why?. Typical selection process. 150 candidates applied. 30 candidates selected for testing. 10 candidates interviewed. 1 person gets the job. Conclusions. Your CV should really stand out outstanding CV shows your talent and motivation

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Writing a good cv

Writing a good CV

Rostislav Titov, CERN

Writing a good cv

Typical selection process

150candidates applied

30 candidates selected for testing

10 candidates interviewed

1 person gets the job


  • Your CV should really stand out

    • outstanding CV shows your talent and motivation

  • It should be tailored to employee’s needs

    • modify your CV for each employer

  • Don’t give the recruiter a reason to reject it

    • funny e-mail, weird hobby, spelling mistake…

Your challenge: writing a CV that would impress a recruiter in 20 seconds and will be among the 20% of not rejected ones.

General principles
General Principles

  • 1-2 (or 3) pages maximum

  • Nice layout, readable 11pt typeface

  • Well-structured

  • Every word and line should be relevant

  • No spelling or grammar mistakes!

  • Don’t write in the first or third person

 I improved the work process …

 He improved the work process …

 Improved the work process …

Types of cv
Types of CV

  • Chronological

    • what most recruiters would expect

    • focuses on work history

    • best if you have a strong, solid history

  • Functional

    • focuses on skills and experience

    • good if you don’t have a lot of work history

    • good if you change career or have gaps

  • Combination

    • first skills and experience, then work history

    • best if you want to highlight relevant skills while also showing your work history

Chronological cv
Chronological CV

Personnel Information


Work history

Reverse-chronological,recent jobs first

Education and training



Other relevant information

Functional cv
Functional CV

Personnel Information


Skills & Competencies

Education and training

Work history & Other information

Combination cv
Combination CV

Personnel Information


Detailed competencies and skills

Work history

Education, training, other relevant information

Writing a good cv


  • Personal Information

  • Summary

  • Work History

  • Competencies & Skills

  • Education & Training

  • Spoken Languages & other information

Personal information
Personal Information

  • Name

    • make it stand out by using a larger font

  • Contact details (make sure they are correct!)

  • Age or date of birth

    • possible but not required

  • Including photo is not recommended

    • unless really important for job (i.e. model business)

    • you are judged by ability to work, not by your smile

    • photos in CVs are not allowed in some countries

  • Marital status, nationality, height, weight, …

    • NO (unless needed)! It is not your profile on a dating site

    • in some countries it is illegal for recruiters to ask

E mail

A funny e-mail address could ruin your CV

  • Don’t use your current employer’s mailbox

    • you may find yourself in an awkward situation

    • the CV might “fire” after you quit the company

  • Make sure your contact details are correct

    • not a rare reason of non-inviting good candidates

  • Create a new professionally-looking e-mail

    • it just takes 5 minutes

    • try to deriver it from your name/surname





  • Not strictly required… but extremely important

  • No more than 3-6 lines

  • It is the first (and possibly the only!) thing the recruiter will read

  • Don’t put your objectives, tell who you are (tailored approach vice “wide shot”)

  • Don’t use quotations (your CV will be rejected!)

“A regional branch employee looking for a job in the headquarters decided to show his sense of humour and knowledge of Russian classics by starting his CV with: "Милый дедушка Константин Макарыч, сделай божецку милость - забери меня отсюда..." (Dear grandfather, Konstantin Makaritch, for Christ's sake, I beg you, take me away – A. Chekhov).

P.S. Refused. We have too many clowns already.”


Poor Summary


You are expected to be…


“A good team player, self-organized and highly motivated, is looking for an interesting well-remunerated job”

Not perceived well


This summary is a waste of space and is counterproductive

Good summary
Good Summary

“A J2EE developer with over 7 years of experience in writing and supporting large-scale software in multinational teams. Lead architect of a corporate Java-based system (16’000+ users).”

Vacancy: “An international company is looking for a J2EE developer for maintaining and developing a corporate recruitment system”.

  • Tailored to the employee’s needs

  • Immediately tells you have the right profile

Work history
Work History

  • Chronological, recent jobs first

  • No unexplainable gaps

    • include reasonable explanations

    • do not cheat

  • Explain in which sector/area the company works if it is not obvious (what is Beeline?)

  • List your key responsibilities/achievements

  • Use action “resume words”!

Power words
Power Words

Including power resume words increases chance of getting hired by 80%!

accelerated accomplished achieved addressed administered advanced advised applied arranged assessed assisted assuredaudited awarded built changed chaired clarified classified collected

compared completed conducted conceptualized considered

consolidated constructed controlled converted coordinated

corrected created defined delivered demonstrated described designeddeveloped devised diagnosed directed distributed documented doubled drafted earned edited endorsed enlargedensured established estimated evaluated examined expanded explained exploredextendedfinanced formulated found gathered generated guided handled helped identified implementedimproved incorporated increasedinnovated installed interviewed introducedinvented invested investigated launched led made maintained managed measured modified moved negotiated opened organized participated performed persuaded planned prepared presented processed procured promoted proposed provided published purchased questioned raised realized received recommended recruited redesignedreducedreorganized repaired replaced reported researched resolved restored revamped reviewed revised saved selected set up simplified sold solved specified staffed streamlinedstrengthened structured studied submitted succeeded suggested summarized supervised surveyed systematized tackled tested traced trained transformed translated treated tripledtroubleshoot turned tutored uncoveredunified unraveled updatedupgraded used utilized verbalized verified visited widened worked wrote …

Work history example
Work History: example

  • Managed

  • Restructured

  • Implemented

  • Doubled

  • Optimized

  • Trainedandsupervised

  • Established

  • Supervised

  • Directlymanaged

  • Improved

  • Best Insulation, Ltd., May 2009 - Now

  • Vice-Director

  • Managed daily operations of a $1 million foam insulation company.

  • Restructured product pricing/discounts resulting in an 80% bid acceptance rate.

  • Implemented new bidding process utilizing Excel spreadsheets to formulate more accurate bids.

  • Doubled company income by optimizing internal business processes

  • Crazy Constructions,April 2006 – May 2009

  • Manager

  • Optimized business process allowing to save about 150’000$ per year

  • Trained and supervised work crews in more efficient product installation techniques that have reduced material waste by 20% and labour hours by 43%.

  • Established a new safety policy

  • “Russian House” Construction company,April 2001 – April 2006

  • Work superintendant

  • Supervised construction of 2 skyscrapers in the Moscow business centre

  • Directly managed work of about 150 workers

  • Improved construction quality by introducing innovative building techniques

Dealing with gaps in the career
Dealing with gaps in the career

  • Don‘t list the month for “over a year” positions

    • e.g. say 2008-2012

  • Freelance, consulting, volunteering count as a job!

    • list them as you would list other jobs (job title, dates, etc.)

    • If you were on training, list it in the “Education”

  • For big gaps, put the explanation in the history

    • consider everything you were doing (e.g. travel, family)

    • try to present them so they're relevant to your job objective

  • Explain irrelevant gaps honestly and with dignity

    • don‘t refer to illness or unemployment, write instead about something you were doing during that time, even if it’s not related to your job objective.

Dealing with gaps in the career 2
Dealing with gaps in the career (2)

  • Here are some “job titles” to cover gaps:

  • Full-time Student

  • Independent Study

  • Full-time Parent

  • Family Management (or Home Management)

  • Family Financial Management

  • Adventure Travel (or Travels to …)

  • Personal Travel

  • Call the section “History” instead of “Work History” if it includes “gap descriptions”

  • Be prepared to explain gaps at the interview

Competencies skills
Competencies & Skills

  • Start with the most relevant skills

  • Indicate your level of proficiency

    • how many years of experience?

    • when have you used it last time?

    • have you used it in real projects or just for fun?

  • Give examples

    • use action words

  • Don’t waste much space on irrelevant skills

    • will Lisp skills help you to get a Java-coder’s job?

  • Don’t put things you are not easy with

Competencies skills example
Competencies & Skills: Example

  • Human Resources(8 years of experience, last used in 2012)

    • Established a pro-active career monitoring process (2012)

    • Designed and implemented a modern recruitment and staffing policy (2010)

    • Improved staff selection process by introducing a new software tool (2007)

    • Comprehensive understanding of Russian employment law legislation

  • Leadership & Project Management (4 years of experience, last used in 2012)

    • Designed, staffed and lead an award winning new recruitment unit

    • Introduced Key Performance Indicators in HR selection process

    • Directly supervised 18 persons

Competencies skills example 2
Competencies & Skills: Example 2

  • Java – over 7 years of experience (J2EE/Spring/GWT/Hibernate)

  • Lead developer of a large corporate Java-based system

  • Designed robust and scalable web applications (16’000+ users)

  • Developed a billing application (1500 users) using Spring/GWT

  • Improved system maintainability by rewriting it with Hibernate

  • C++ – 4 years of experience (last used in 2010)

  • Created an expert system for Government of Ukraine

  • Maintained and enhanced 7 mission-critical C++ applications

  • Web technologies – 5 years of experience

  • Redesigned web interface of a big corporate system with AJAX

  • Created a corporate web site with HTML5/CSS3/JQuery


  • Most recent and most relevant first

  • Give qualification details, place and date

    • you can include incomplete qualifications but make it clear that you have not completed them yet

  • Do not include irrelevant qualifications

  • Include relevant training (e.g. courses) and other facts (e.g. prizes in school competitions)

  • Experienced job seekers: include basic facts

Other information
Other Information

  • Languages

    • With some details (oral skills, reading skills, etc.)

  • List of publications / presentations

  • Don’t put “references available upon request”

    • You are expected to provide them if needed anyhow

  • Hobbies? Don’t mention them, unless you are sure they will help to get the job!

    • They take precious space

    • Employers don’t have to care

    • Weird or inappropriate hobbies could lead to a fail

“Hobbies: computer games, hacking web sites”

Writing a good cv


  • Don’t use too many fonts and colors

  • Main font size 10-12pt

  • A bit of colour might improve the CV


This is how recruiters look at your CV


Java. Over 7 years of experience (J2EE/Spring/GWT/Hibernate). Lead developer of a large corporate Java-based system. Designed robust, durable and scalable web applications used by thousands of persons worldwide and available on 24/7 basis. Developed a billing application (1500 users) using Spring/GWT architecture. Improved system maintainability by rewriting it with Hibernate.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

  • Java – over 7 years of experience (J2EE/Spring/GWT/Hibernate)

  • Lead developer of a large corporate Java-based system

  • Designed robust and scalable web applications (16’000+ users)

  • Developed a billing application (1500 users) using Spring/GWT

  • Improved system maintainability by rewriting it with Hibernate

Spelling and grammar
Spelling and grammar

  • No errors allowed!!!

    • they indicate you are uneducated, lazy, careless or not professional

  • No red highlighting ≠ no errors

    • e.g. than ≠ then

  • Show your CV to a friend

  • Have it checked by a native speaker


Paper version

  • Use the best possible paper and printer

  • Don’t fold unnecessarily

Electronic version

  • PDF or Word format

  • No ZIP, RAR, JPEG, TIFF,...

No one called… Perhaps I shouldn’t have sent my CV in CorelDraw format?

Writing a good cv


  • Great tools for job hunting

  • Online profile might be more up to date than the CV

  • They don’t substitute the need for CV

Social networks usage
Social Networks Usage


  • Very powerful professional network

  • Get references and endorsements

  • You could use it for company search

  • Gives you a list of jobs you are interested in


  • Don’t afraid to network on Facebook

  • Friends who know you could help you


  • Let people know you are looking

  • Tell people what you are looking for

Social networks dangers
Social Networks Dangers

“Your first impression isn't made with a firm handshake – it's with a Google search”

  • Survey: 70% of candidates refused based of what was found about them online

  • Remove complaints about your job, any confidential work information, photos of yourself acting in an inappropriate way, …

  • Make your Facebook profile private

Writing a good cv