The ABC's 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.


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 content of the CV

In a few lines and broad strokes, it should provide:

  • your personal data

  • your professional record

  • your education

  • your language skills

  • your computer skills

If you wish, you can add:

  • your non-work related activities

  • your references

  • a photo

  • your notice period

  • the target salary

The structure of the CV

The CV can be written in two different formats:

  • Reverse chronological

  • Thematic

The CV almost always contains the same sections, but its content will vary based on the industry in which you work and/or your work record.
An accountant's CV will not be the same as that of a worker in the agribusiness sector. The recruiter's expectations of these two profiles will differ, even if the people are employed by the same company.

6 golden rules of the CV

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:


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.


Give each section a title.


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


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.


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

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 for your CV

You should not:

Sign your CV

It is not a letter.

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

The recruiter can see what it is.


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

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.

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.

Neglect the layout

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