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Create a resume

The ultimate guide

A curriculum vitae is an important – perhaps the most important – part of your application. It is therefore important to pay extensive attention to your curriculum vitae. In this time when dozens of application letters often come in for a vacancy, the appearance of your CV can be decisive for the recruiter in determining whether your letter will be selected from this mountain of submissions. What are the requirements for a good curriculum vitae? What do you name and what do you not name? How do you design your curriculum vitae and what is the best way to match your resume with your cover letter? We help you on your way with the facts and tips below.  

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Curriculum Vitae Content

A curriculum vitae, or resume for short, is a document in which you give a kind of summary of your life, mainly in the field of education and work. You show the reader who you are and what you can do.

Relevant facts

In your curriculum vitae you only state facts; relevant education, work experience, secondary activities, qualities and skills. You present these facts in a clear manner, so that the recruiter gets a good picture of you as a person and as an employee. Naturally, you emphasize the elements that are important for the position for which you are applying.

Important part

In most cases you send your curriculum vitae together with a letter of application to the company where you want to apply. In many cases, your resume will be the first item a recruiter looks at. Based on the content of your resume, the recruiter chooses whether he or she will read your cover letter. This shows how important a good resume is!

To sell yourself

Since your resume is often the first item a recruiter looks at, it is important to present yourself well in your resume. Bring out your strengths and make your weaknesses stand out as little as possible. Make sure you do this short, concise and clear, so that the recruiter’s attention stays with your resume.⇧ table of contents

The different types of resumes

There are different types of resumes when it comes to the way in which you are going to write your curriculum vitae. We will discuss some of them below.

Chronological resume

A chronological resume is the most standard resume. In a chronological curriculum vitae you make a division into sections. The parts you name in these sections are put in reverse chronological order. So you start with your most recent education and finish with your secondary education.

The sections in your chronological resume

Your chronological curriculum vitae contains the following sections:
  • Personal details – Your name, date of birth, address, telephone number, e-mail address and your marital status. Under this section you can also indicate whether you have a driving license and from which date you are available for the position.
  • Personal profile – This part does not necessarily appear in your chronological curriculum vitae, but if you want to quickly give the recruiter a good picture of yourself and of what you can and want, then it is good to draw up a personal profile.
In no more than five sentences, describe briefly but clearly what your skills and ambitions are. Place this text below your personal details, so that it is immediately visible to the recruiter. It is especially useful to add a personal profile to your curriculum vitae, if you have done many different things, or if your education and work experience do not fit seamlessly with the vacancy. In your personal profile you write:
  • What motivates you, so what makes you enthusiastic.
  • What you look for in a new position.
  • What are your qualities and competencies that characterize you.
Writing a personal profile is not easy and you will have to do a bit of planing and scraping in between to arrive at the right text. Let people around you read your personal profile and ask them if they recognize you in this profile.

An example of a personal profile:

My name is Sandra, a hardworking, flexible administrative employee with extensive administrative experience within medium-sized organizations. My working method as an administrator is best characterized as accurate and accurate. I ensure that I can work in a concentrated manner, but I attach great importance to working together within a team. Despite my serious work attitude, I also like to give room for some humor in the workplace!
  • Education followed – Within this section you will discuss your education followed, starting with your secondary school. Briefly describe your range of subjects, your specializations within your study programme(s) and the subject of your thesis or a description of your graduation internship.
  • Courses – Another section that you should mention on your resume is the ‘courses’ section. Here you name relevant courses that you may have followed. Briefly explain the content if you think it is necessary and describe the purpose of the course.
  • Work experience – An important part of your curriculum vitae is describing your work experience. Your new employer is naturally curious about what you can and have done. Describe what position you have held and at which companies. You also indicate the period in which you performed the position. You explain your work experience with a substantive description of your tasks and the results achieved.
  • Volunteering – If you do or have done volunteer work and it may be relevant to the position, you can mention this in a separate section. Remember that in most volunteer work you can name things that you have learned or practiced that will be useful within a position. For example, if you have taught a group of elderly people computer lessons, you may have learned to be patient or to be a good listener.
  • Publications – This section will not appear in every curriculum vitae, but if you have publications of your hand, it is certainly worth mentioning. If there are many publications to mention, consider creating a separate publication list and sending it along. Of course, you only do this if it is important for the position you are applying for.
Do you only have one publication to name, for example your thesis? In that case, do not state this under a separate heading, but place it with your study programme.
  • Skills – Under this heading you mention relevant skills, such as language skills and computer skills. You state at what level you master these matters. You can also name your personal characteristics under this section. You can also describe competencies that are not yet apparent from your work experience.
  • Hobbies – Discuss your hobbies here, but keep in mind that people can judge you on this too. If you are applying for a dynamic position, it might be better to forego that you enjoy knitting and collecting stamps.
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Drafting your standard curriculum vitae

When preparing a chronological resume, go through the following steps:
  • List all the facts about your education, courses, work experience and hobbies. Then classify them according to the above sections. Here you do not have to pay attention to the length; you use this as the basis for your curriculum vitae and continue to refine it from there.
  • Include the vacancy text and determine which items from your basic resume are relevant to the position. Make sure you don’t just leave something out, because it is important that your curriculum vitae contains no or as few gaps in time as possible. Be critical, because things like hobbies, voluntary work and courses will not always be relevant.
  • The matters that remain are important for the position and you must write an explanation why this part is important for the position. Make the explanation as close as possible to the job requirements, to attract the interest of the recruiter.
  • When naming your skills, competences and characteristics, you always give relevant examples. For example, if you indicate that you are ‘social’, it only says something if you give a clear example.
  • Are you preparing a standard CV for an open application? Then take the type of work you have in mind as a starting point.
  • Try to keep your curriculum vitae to no more than two A4 pages. Do you need more space? Then it is necessary that all content is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
  • Carefully read the final version of your chronological resume and pay close attention to any language or spelling errors. Have another person read your resume and also the vacancy text.
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Skills resume

A skills resume is also known as a thematic or functional curriculum vitae. With a skills resume, you do not treat your experiences in chronological order, but you classify them according to skills, competencies, roles, work experience and achievements. For example, you can use a skills resume in situations where you are applying for a position for which you do not have the right work experience. That could be in case you want to make a career switch or if you have a gap in your resume. Even if you are a freelancer, setting up a skills resume is helpful.

The components within a skills resume

In a skills resume you cover the following parts:
  • Personal details By your personal details we mean your name, date of birth, address, telephone number, e-mail address and your marital status. Under this section you can also indicate whether you have a driving license and from which date you are available for the position.
  • Position The position for which your curriculum vitae is intended. What position are you applying for or what position do you aspire to?
  • Education The education you have followed, mentioned since secondary school. If necessary, state your range of subjects, specializations and the subject of your final thesis.
  • Skills and competences Name your skills, such as language skills and computer skills, and indicate the level at which you master these skills. You also let your competencies be discussed.
  • Achievements You discuss the achievements you have achieved during your education and especially during your career. This may also include any publications you have written.
  • Work experience You let your work experience be discussed and you mainly indicate the experiences and roles that match the position for which you are applying.
Writing a good skills resume is not easy. On the other hand, it can make for a very valuable resume. It contains no facts that infer, such as dates and names of organisations. It really is about you as a person and employee.

Compiling your skills resume

When you start putting together a skills curriculum vitae, take the following things with you:
  • Describing your skills and competences; Describe what relevant knowledge you have and what skills and competences you possess. Make sure that the description matches the requested job requirements as closely as possible.
In this section, don’t just think about lessons learned from previous jobs, but also describe your skills that you have developed through hobbies or volunteer work, for example. What matters is what you learned and not necessarily where you learned it.
  • When naming skills and competences, you mention facts. An example for a skills resume could be: I have an almost native command of the French language, as my mother is French and we have lived in France with our family for almost seven years. I went to a French school, but we spoke Dutch at home.
This text says and ‘proves’ more than when you say: I have an excellent command of the French language in speech and writing.
  • Formulate sentences in such a way that your competencies distinguish you from others.
  • Name your achievements; In this section you tell what you have achieved and what your achievements have been. You do this in the following way:  Only name things that have led to a visible and verifiable performance. – Also discuss relevant achievements you have achieved during your hobbies or other side activities .
  • In the case of an open application, it is useful to include a ‘Employable as’ or ‘Desired work’ section in your skills CV. In this you describe the type of work you aspire to and for which positions you consider yourself suitable. In this way you make it clear to the reader what exactly you are looking for in a position.
  • Describe your work experience based on roles. For example, if you have been in charge of a department for a period of time, you have probably fulfilled various roles, such as the role of manager, project leader, planner and so on. Describe the different roles, the actions you took and what the results were.
  • Try to keep your skills resume to a maximum of two A4 sheets. Do you need more space? Then it is necessary that all content is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
  • Carefully read the final draft of your skills resume and pay close attention to any language or spelling errors. Have another person read your resume and also the vacancy text.
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Creative Curriculum Vitae

To stand out among many other cover letters and resumes, the craziest things are often thought up these days. A CV printed on a cream cake, your own magazine… it attracts the recruiter’s attention and distinguishes you from other applicants. However, before you go all out, it is important to check whether you achieve your goal with such a creative CV: being invited for a job interview. Perhaps the sector in which you are applying is not yet ready for such a creative excess, or it may not fit the culture of the organization. For example, if you are applying for a position as a registered accountant, it is better to ensure that your curriculum vitae is businesslike and clear. When to prepare a creative resume? The situations in which you can indeed opt for a creative CV are:
  • When you apply for a creative position, such as a position in the graphics sector, communication or marketing.
  • When you want to emphasize certain skills, such as graphic design or knowledge of printing.
  • If you want to make your application stand out among many other application letters.
Examples for a creative resume A creative CV is of course also called creative because you come up with something striking, funny or beautiful yourself. However, we can give you a few examples that are often used when making a creative resume.
  • Making a video in which you present yourself.
  • Designing an infographic about yourself and your knowledge and skills
  • Writing a curriculum vitae in Prezi
  • Writing a curriculum vitae in Pinterest
  • Create your own website for your resume
Then of course there are the tangible creative curriculum vitaes. You can give free rein to your imagination and creativity. Pay attention! No matter how many creative ideas you have, keep in mind that design isn’t the ultimate goal of your creative resume. The implementation is only to support the content that matters in the first place. Your creative resume should grab attention, but the content should ultimately be seen and remembered. You do this by:
  • Creating a perfect opening that stimulates the reader to continue reading your curriculum.
  • Provide clarity. Make sure that, despite all your creativity, the content of your curriculum vitae is clearly laid out and that all information is divided into blocks. Formulate in short sentences and state your parts concisely.
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Network resume

A network resume is in fact an extensive profile. This kind of resume is suitable to distribute in your network when you are looking for a new job. It’s also the kind of resume you can use at recruitment agencies or send as an open application to organizations where you’d like to work. In a network resume you put basically the same as in a chronological resume or skills resume. You only add what kind of function you are looking for. With a network resume it is certainly important to clearly state what your qualities are. A section about your skills and competences should therefore not be missing. When to make a network resume? If you want to send the same curriculum vitae to multiple recruitment and selection agencies or companies, you can make a network CV. You can put out your resume in many places in a short period of time. However, this can also be a disadvantage. You do not go deeply into specific wishes, requirements and the culture of the company where you want to bring yourself to the attention. That can sometimes seem a bit selfish. Decide for yourself whether your situation and that of the recipients lends itself to a network resume.

What to put in a network resume

In a network resume you describe what kind of position you are looking for.
  • Personal details Your first and last name, date of birth, address, telephone number, e-mail address and your marital status. Under this section you can also indicate whether you have a driving license and from which date you are available for the position.
  • Desired position Under this heading, you provide a brief description of the activities you would like to perform within a position and, if necessary, a specific job title.
  • Skills and competences Describe the skills and competences that are important for the intended position. Since you don’t have a specific job description, you can think a little more broadly here.
  • Education and courses you have attended State the education you have attended, including any specializations and specialization. Only describe the courses that have some connection with your work area.
  • Work experience List your work experience chronologically, or focus it on your competencies, such as with a skills resume.

Europass resume

A Europass curriculum vitae is a standard CV that is recognized in every EU country. This form of a CV provides information about education, work experience, competences and language skills in a standard way. It is intended to unambiguously formulate your qualifications and skills in case you want to apply in another European country. Even if you find it difficult to design your resume in a different way, you can keep this format. Rules and guidelines for preparing a Europass CV You can obtain a Europass curriculum vitae by carefully filling in a form. Most data is meant to be classified according to the EU-defined frameworks for the subject in question. An example of this is that all educational institutions have a code, which you must look up or inquire at the institution where you followed your education. Language proficiency is also divided into six different categories for each language you master. When you fill in the Europass CV list, it forms a complete portfolio together with some other documents. These other documents include the Europass Language Passport, in which your language skills can be recorded. The Europass Mobility Document is also part of this and this document contains possible exchanges with other higher education institutions. You can also add the Europass Diploma Supplement; a document that describes in a standard way how your education is structured. This is in line with your ‘regular’ diploma, but makes it easier for employers abroad to assess the value of your diploma. Finally, there is the Europass Certificate Supplement, which describes all the competences you have acquired in higher education.

Competencies

An important part of your curriculum vitae that we would like to discuss separately is your competences. These are crucial for whether or not to select your application. Your competencies are your most important behavioral characteristics and skills. These competencies match certain job profiles that belong to the vacancy. A recruiter takes a close look at your competencies to determine whether you fit within the position and the company. Here you will find a list of competencies. ⇧ table of contents

Curriculum vitae tips

When preparing your curriculum vitae, you sometimes run into a problem. After all, what do you do if you haven’t completed your education, or if you’ve been out of work for a while? Do you indicate this in your CV and if so, how do you do that?

Training not completed

There can be several reasons for not completing your education. It can be tempting not to mention the program in your curriculum vitae. However, it is wiser to do so, because your CV is, after all, a description of your career in education and work. This also includes unfinished training. In addition, there will be a gap in your CV if you do not complete this training and that is noticeable. In many cases there is an understandable reason why you stopped the training. An example is that during your training you discovered that the subject for which you learned does not match your interests, or that you became ill during your training period. It is better to be honest straight away than to be told about the things that you keep silent during your job interview. State your reason in a positive way, demonstrating that you made a well-considered decision to discontinue your education.

Hole in your curriculum vitae

Of course you want to convince your potential employer of your qualities for the position to be filled in all kinds of ways. But what do you do if you haven’t worked for a while and you have a gap in your resume? Here too the following applies: be honest and emphasize your qualities. A gap in your curriculum vitae does not have to be an obstacle during your application. When you focus on your strengths and competencies that match the position, you stand as much chance of landing that great job as any other applicant. You can name the reason for the gap in your curriculum vitae. It’s even wise to do this, because every employer will wonder what caused the gap in your resume. It may have been a conscious choice, because, for example, you wanted to stay at home to take care of your children for the first few years. Another cause could be that you were fired and therefore forced to sit at home for a while Be honest when you give the reason for the gap in your resume. A few months of ‘lying’ is out of the question, because when a potential employer finds out, you can assume that it means the end of the application procedure for you.

Laid off

Are you fired? Then the question is whether you should state this in your curriculum vitae or cover letter. The answer is not necessarily ‘yes’. The trick is to write your curriculum vitae in such a way that it doesn’t seem important that you were fired. You can do this in two ways:
  1. In your curriculum vitae, focus primarily on why you want to fill the position and why you are the right candidate. Highlight your qualities that match the work to be performed.
  2. If you do choose to mention your resignation, describe the reason for your resignation in a positive way. State what you learned from the situation.
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Frequently changed jobs

Fortunately, it is no longer very strange if an employee changes jobs every now and then. Nevertheless, recruiters are sometimes critical of the so-called ‘job hoppers’. If you have changed jobs often, you will have to introduce yourself carefully to your potential employer. The recruiter will wonder why you changed jobs so often and whether you will stay with his or her organization for a longer period of time. Job hoppers are sometimes seen as unreliable or capricious and of course you don’t want that. Tips for ‘job hoppers’
  • List several jobs that you have held briefly under one heading. For example, if you have been a project manager for several organizations, then you state the names of the companies where you held this position under that job title. Include the tasks and responsibilities you had.
  • Give a good explanation for the different jobs you have had. Try to convince the recruiter that you changed jobs regularly, because you wanted to gain a lot of experience and develop yourself. Make a connection between the jobs, so that you can demonstrate the added value.
  • Show in your job profile within your CV that you have made a conscious choice for this position and this company.

Under Qualified

Of course it is possible to apply for a position that is more ambitious. Do stay realistic. Some positions require specific prior education, such as a nurse. Without a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will not be able to work in this position. So don’t bother. However, some jobs don’t necessarily require a certain degree of education. Then put your profile next to the job profile from the job description. Then make an analysis by asking yourself the following questions:
  • What requirements do I meet?
  • Which parts do I have less to offer?
  • Can I make up for the requirements I don’t meet with other skills or qualities I possess?
  • Do I need additional training to gain or update certain knowledge?
After mapping out these questions, you can make a realistic estimate of your chances. Do you want to apply? Then use a skills resume. Here you do not display your work experience per time period, but you divide your experience into tasks or responsibilities.

What to tell and what not to say?

Some things, such as a pregnancy or disability, you may prefer not to mention in your curriculum vitae, because you think it will reduce your chances of getting the job. What is important to say and what is better not to say? In theory, the answer to this question does not seem difficult, but in practice it often turns out to be different.

Your rights

The law states that you do not have to mention anything about your current health or your medical history in a curriculum vitae. Employers are prohibited from asking about this.

Your duties

Even though you have the above right, you are obliged to declare matters that may form an obstacle in the performance of the position. This concerns, for example, certain tasks that you cannot perform because of your disability, but which are part of your tasks.

Our advice

You ultimately decide what to describe or not to describe in your curriculum vitae. Tips we would like to give you:
  • Do mention your illness experiences, if they can be useful in your new position.
  • If it is clear from your CV that you have been out of the running for a while, then it might be better to just open up and describe what the situation was and what it is at the moment.
  • Describe in your curriculum vitae the extent to which you consider yourself capable of performing the position well and emphasize this.

Pregnant

Are you pregnant? Congratulations! Well, you have to make an assessment yourself whether or not you mention that you are pregnant in your CV. If you can’t hide your pregnancy anymore, there’s no point in hiding it. It will then come true during a job interview. But if your belly is not yet visible, you can decide not to tell it yet. An initial interview is mainly intended to see whether the position suits you and whether the company appeals to you.

And then, send it!

Now that you’ve got the tools above, you’re probably ready to write a great resume. Keep in mind that employers nowadays regularly use CV verification to check whether your CV is correct. Such a CV verification is mandatory for positions where integrity is important. ⇧ table of contents