The various elements of a CV

A CV is like a calling card that you can give to a potential new employer. It may even prove to be – in combination with your cover letter – the key to receiving an invitation to a job interview with your future boss. Who knows what that may lead to. CVs vary from person to person, but there are generally a number of fixed elements. These are all listed and further elaborated on below.

The fixed elements of a CV

CVs can be produced in a range of formats, some of which are more popular than others. One good example is the functional CV, which is a skills-based CV format. In this format you focus on your transferable skills and experience. This is not the most common format. Most commonly used is the chronological format that lists your work experience, your previous positions and education in chronological order. In this format the elements of the CV are as follows:

  • Personal data
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Skills

Personal data
This part of the CV states who you are by listing your personal data (name, address, birthdate). The following should be listed:

  • First name and surname
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Telephone number
  • E-mail address

Optionally you may also list:

  • Academic title
  • Driver’s license (if in possession of)
  • Nationality

Under Education you indicate which studies you have completed. Begin with your most recent study, followed by education programmes you followed before that. Always include the following information:

  • Name of degree or diploma obtained
  • Dates in years
  • Name of education programme
  • Location of programme
  • Any specialisation

Work experience
This is a list of all the different places you have been employed. It is important to also record what exactly you did in each place. Start, as in Education, with the most recent job, followed by the job preceding that, etc. Include at least the following information:

  • Dates in years
  • Job description
  • Job title
  • Name of company

The section on skills provides information about your specific skill set. This includes, for example, proficiency in certain software programs, or your foreign language skills. You can also list any competencies here that you feel you master and that are relevant for this position.

Additional space

In addition to these fixed elements a CV often also has some space for two or three more sentences, in which you can say something more about your personal goals. You could also note what kind of team, company or sector you would like to work in. This also means you are not restricted to the information provided in the fixed elements: if there is some space left you can naturally fill it with any information that you think may be useful for potential employers. 

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