How to Create a Successful CV

When a recruiter looks at your CV for the first time, he or she tends to devote approximately 8 seconds to the first screening.

The aim of this article is to help you to get though this first stage of the selection process by giving you advice on what you should include in your CV in order to make it as readable and appealing as possible.

Golden Rules

Your CV is your calling card

Your CV is a calling card which might make the difference between being invited for an interview or being told you weren’t selected. The time has therefore come to transform your CV into an effective weapon:

Relevant Information

Include all information which highlights what you bring to the table and increases your chances of getting an interview. The fact that you organise a golf tour every year doesn’t matter when applying for a job as a Web Designer. If, however, you want to work for an event organiser, this information becomes important. Mould your CV to the job you are applying for.

Shrink it down

Try to reduce your CV down to two pages.

The most important idea is that you should be concise, precise and objective. Be creative without being too detailed. Bearing this in mind, a CV should be no longer than one or two pages but generally a new graduate’s CV does not need to be any longer than one page.

Well organised

Divide your CV into clear sections (e.g. personal details, education, professional experience, other information etc.) Include plenty of blank spaces to make it more readable.

Specific examples

Team spirit, perseverance and good communication skills are all very well, but without specific examples they are meaningless. State specifically how in the past you demonstrated team spirit or where you used your perseverance.

Type of CV

A chronological CV provides a list of your education and experience according to a logical time sequence. A functional CV adds qualities and characteristics per relevant area.


A little white lie to make yourself look good might seem innocent, but it could have negative consequences. By lying on your CV you are risking getting caught out sooner or later.

Active voice

Use dynamic and active verbs such as organise, teach, etc.

Graphic appearance

Each CV you send must be an original print. Any smudges, dog ears and creases are forbidden.

Different opinions state...

... that you should avoid repeating the obvious. For example, don’t write "Curriculum Vitae" at the top of your CV. If you’re applying to an Information Technology company you don’t need to say that you are skilled in Microsoft Office – it would be like saying you can read and write...

... that you should start by what you consider to be the most important information for your addressee. If in your higher education you wish to emphasise your university degree first you should write "Degree in Rural and Environmental Engineering from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa". If, on the other hand, you want to highlight the educational establishment then you should write "Degree from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, in Rural and Environmental Engineering". The same applies to additional training and extra curricular activities.

Structure of a functional CV

This is the most appropriate structure for a new graduate’s Curriculum Vitae, or for someone who does not have much work experience or wishes to switch career.

Personal Details (Name, Age, address, telephone numbers, e-mail)

Goal of the Application (optional)

Academic Qualifications

Professional Experience

Other Qualifications (Language skills, Computer skills)



Read your CV as many times as necessary and give it to others to read. Don’t let any misprints slip through, check carefully for spelling mistakes and do not commit any grammatical errors. It is very important for your CV to be perfect – one error, as insignificant as it may seem, could seal your fate.

Be determined, and it is important to show that you have set goals, that you know where you want to go and where you want to be in five years’ time. But it is also important to demonstrate flexibility.

Your CV should be legible and well presented: choose a conventional letter size and font.

Don’t highlight any activities you have undertaken or mastered if you don’t intend to continue with them in the future.

If you include any acronyms or abbreviations in your CV make sure that they can be understood by the recruiter. The fact that you are familiar with an acronym does not mean that everyone else is – when in doubt, spell it out.

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