How to Write a Compelling CV | Career Guidance | Kelly Services

How to Write a Compelling CV

Although there is a growing emphasis on demonstrating your skills to potential employers in other ways, such as through online portfolios and social networking tools, the CV still has a key role to play in getting you the job you want. There are, however, some differences on how you should present your CV in each market.

Across the world, the way CVs are written and read varies. In Europe, it is literally translated as the “path of your life”, so it’s important to show detail, responsibilities and progression rather than just a chronological list of job titles and duties.

There is flexibility in how you create the right CV for yourself, but there are also some pitfalls you should try to avoid. Let’s walk through the kind of CV that compels employers to act and how you can create it.



The role you’re applying for, and the stage of your career,should determine the kind of CV format you should use. You could choose from a function CV, chronological CV, a combination of both or the ever more popular visual CV which can include photographs, infographics and videos.


More people are looking for work across borders and it’s important to get your application just right for the market you’re applying in.In France, CVs should be written in French and accompanied by a hand written cover letter. In Germany, it’s common practice to put your picture onto your CV, yet in the U.S. employers are required to discard these if they receive them. A little research can go a long way and if uncertain, contact a recruiter or HR consultant to help you out and provide you with good examples. Targeting effectively means knowing what’s important.


It can be a real challenge understanding all the do’s and don’ts when writing your CV across several countries in Europe and Asia. We’ve consulted with some recruiting professionals in the local markets to bring you their 3 top tips. See the full guide for all their top advice.


Take a look at tools like the LinkedIn analytics site, which shows what other people are doing with their job search and CV writing (and what to avoid). Specific elements to pay particular attention to are:

  • Write a great objective
  • Be measurable and give examples
  • Be aware of your tone/style
  • List all your contact details


When reading your CV employers will have these questions at the forefront of their minds. If you can answer them, you’re on the right track:

  • What can you do for me?
  • Are you a valuable employee?
  • Do you have the skills I need?
  • Do you have relevant experience?
  • Are your education and credentials appropriate?
  • How are you unique?


Proofread and get feedback. If you’re not sure you’ve answered these questions, get a trusted friend or colleague to proofread and doublecheck the detail in your CV. They can also help you pick up inconsistencies, errors and unintentional negative comments or tone.


Don’t assume that a human being will be reading your CV at the first stage. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are software tools used by recruiters to sort candidate applications. They are used often across Europe,so you should assume your CV will be processed by one, particularly if you’reapplying for a role with a large organisation. These systems can be error-prone and relatively simplistic in how they group information. So, you need to ensure your CV is ready to meet the robot and make the right impression.


Even if you’re not an active job seeker right now, there are benefits to taking a proactive stance in your career. Different employers will search for you in different places, so diversify your presence online to increase the likelihood you’ll be found by the employers you’re targeting. It’s increasingly important to use everything from social media and networking events to online job boards in your search—don’t rely solely on your two-page CV to get you noticed.

dream job

Download a full copy of our guide How to Write a Compelling CV.