The CV

A winning CV showcases your professional record and is clear, precise, attractive and impeccable in its presentation. It is addressed to a recruiter, an HR officer or directly to a CEO and its aim is to highlight what you are able to do in order to secure an interview. A recruiter will form a first impression in 30 seconds. If your CV is attention-grabbing, the recruiter will spend two minutes reading it. So it's essential to use a very direct style and carefully structure your information. When you are preparing it, try to put yourself in the place of the reader… the reader who doesn't know you. What would the reader think of you?

The ABCs of a CV

  • When you respond to an ad, your CV should be written in the language of the ad. If this is not the case, prepare it in the language of the region that you want to work in.

  • The CV should be 1 to 2 pages long (at most).

  • The structure should be clear, legible and coherent. (short phrases/neutral vocabulary).

  • Be sober about the layout (don't be afraid of white spaces).

  • Have someone check over your CV to avoid any spelling and syntax errors.

  • Adapt your CV based on your experience, the job to which you are applying and the position you are targeting. Leave out anything that isn't useful for the position sought, but don't leave any gaps in your sequence of activities.

 

Manpower’s tip: When you contact Manpower, your dossier is checked by one of our consultants first. That means that the more details you include about your background, your experience and your education, the more chance you have of being offered a position or assignment.

 

The structure

There are a couple of ways to present a CV: reverse chronological or thematic.

  • The reverse chronological CV (the most common type) presents your professional experience, as well as your training and education from most recent to least recent. It is made up of a list of the different companies for whom you have worked and the tasks that you performed there.

  • The thematic CV allows you to highlight several skill areas by arranging information according to the functions carried out. This form is best suited to demonstrating your versatility or your focus on a field in which you will have held several jobs calling for the same skills. This CV format also allows you to mask any periods of professional inactivity – what recruiters call "gaps" in the CV (e.g. unemployment or maternity leave).

Contact details

Our tips
Contact details
First name/surname
Address
Postal code and town
Nationality and/or work permit
Telephone no.: whether mobile or landline, choose the one at which you are most easily reached and pay attention to the recorded greeting on your answerphone!
E-mail address: create a "professional" address such as firstname.surname@e-mail server (e.g. bluewin, sunrise, yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc.) and check it regularly!
Birth date or age
Type of drivers license (only if your profession requires you to drive a vehicle)
You can also add a link to your LinkedIn or Xing profile, or a blog if it contains articles linked to your professional activity and shows you as an expert

Work experience

Our tips
Work experience
Start and end dates of all assignments or the year and duration of assignments that were less than one year, clearly indicate the job titles of the positions that you have held, the company names and locations (town/canton)
Below each job title, you can describe the tasks you performed and the achievements that you are proud of and that showcase your key skills
If you have limited work experience, but have completed numerous training or temporary assignments in which you were able to prove your skills, show this and support it with examples of accomplishments.
If you have recently completed your diploma and are looking for your first job, mention the jobs you held while enrolled in your program of study

Education

Our tips
Education
If you have pursued advanced studies, you can start off by listing the secondary school that you attended.
List the year and the diploma obtained. As with your work experience, you may list the start and end years, the school name, the program followed and the location (town/canton/country)
Avoid using abbreviations and acronyms for the school, even if these are well-known. Write the name in full.
If you have attended training and development programs, list these, as they help demonstrate your professionalism.
If you have attended training or a school but have not obtained a diploma or final certificate, indicate this and specify the "level" + the name of the diploma or certificate. Everyone will understand that you didn't complete the program, but this will allow you to not devalue yourself and also to avoid a chronological "gap" in your CV.

Languages

Our tips
Languages
Indiquez le nom de la langue et votre niveau actuel.
If your level is certified by a diploma, add the full name of it together with the year the exam was taken.
Choice of phrase If you don't have a language diploma or if you lived abroad and learned the language in the country, avoid using the obsolete, stock expression "written, read and spoken". Use expressions that relate to the work environment, such as "fluent professional conversation", "report preparation", "telephone interviews", etc. to help demonstrate your level.

Computer skills

Our tips
List the names of software programs that you are able to use. If you are indicating your level of knowledge, use the following scale:
Basic knowledge/good knowledge/very good knowledge/expert
For instance:
Word, Excel, Internet : daily use, very good knowledge
Microsoft Project : good knowledge
Photoshop : beginner, basic retouching or basic knowledge

Non-work related activities or personal interests

Our tips
If your hobbies involve skills that are needed in your work activities then don't hesitate to show this. The hobbies you list also show what you’re made of.

Polish your CV

Your CV now contains the main details of your experience and professional skills. Here is some extra advice to stand out from the crowd, especially if you aspire to a management position.

Get hired with a hook

Including a catch phrase in your CV is the best way to stand out from other candidates and get the attention of recruiters. A few well-chosen and well-placed words can make all the difference and send your application to the right pile. But what is a good hook? What should it include? How should you write it?

Learn more

Showcase Your Language Skills

“Working fluency in German, any other European languages would be a plus” This phrase is becoming more and more common in job postings. Today, citing several languages in your CV has practically become a prerequisite for getting a job. In the era of globalization, especially in a multilingual country like Switzerland, mastering two national languages as well as English is an undeniable asset. But how do you cite it in your CV? What wording should you use? What are the current standards?

Learn more

References for Your Application

Selecting references is a crucial part of job search success. Here are a few suggestions on choosing and using references to your greatest advantage.

Learn more

6 golden rules

While writing your CV, keep in mind that a recruiter will only spend about 30 seconds on it before taking a decision. Therefore, your CV must be clear, complete and to the point. If the recruiter feels reassured by the information he reads and sees the value that you can add to the company, chances are high that you will be called for an appointment. Your CV should be reassuring and leave a strong impression.

Your CV must be:

1
Customized

Adjust your CV according to the job you are pursuing. Only include the information that has an added value for the position you are applying to. Everything else is unnecessary.

2
Organized

Give each section a title.

3
Precise

Present your accomplishments and the results achieved (use numbers when you present results).

4
Striking

Use keywords, easily identifiable words and preferably action words. Privilege a positive vocabulary that will portray you as a driven, dynamic and serious candidate. Stay away from negations or negative constructions as much as possible. Avoid using abbreviations.

5
Flawless

Correct any grammar or spelling mistakes. Use your word-processor’s spell check. Proofread your CV and have somebody proofread it for you.

6
Sober and clean

Harmonize the style and layout of your CV. Use bullet points for lists and refrain from fancy visual effects. Use a font such as "Arial" or "Verdana" in 10 to 12 point size and avoid color overload.

6 fatal errors

You should not:

1
Sign your CV

It is not a letter.

2
Give your document a title such as “CV” or “Resumé”

The recruiter can see what it is.

3
Rush

Sending out your CV in a rush without updating it or sending it without a cover letter is not professional.

4
Lie about your education or experience

A recruiter is used to reading CVs. If the recruiter selects your CV and discovers, when double-checking the information provided against your social network profiles, that you have embroidered your experience or invented a diploma, then you will be discredited. Worse still, if your lies are discovered during the interview, you will be definitively out of the running. It’s best to avoid creating doubts in the mind of your interviewer.

5
Overload your CV

Avoid the “additional information” or “other” section – these are dumping grounds. If you don’t know what section information belongs in, then it has no place in your CV. Similarly, it is not necessary to mention student internships or summer jobs if you have more than five years experience.

6
Neglect the layout

Avoid frills and frippery, and complicated layouts where essential information is lost in a mishmash of insipid details.