As most job vacancies receive tens if not hundreds of applicants these days, having a good curriculum vitae/resume can make the difference in you getting a job interview or not. But what makes one CV/resume good and another less so?

In this online exercise on 'CVs/resumes', we will look at both what makes a good CV/resume and how to write one. You'll first look at an example of CV/resume and then do a quiz which will help to explain what makes it good.

Before you do this exercise, I recommend that you read my article on How to write a good CV/resume. It will help you to understand this exercise better.

In addition, you can also do an exercise (with example) on How to write a good job cover/covering letter.

There is one thing you need to know before doing this exercise, it takes time to learn how to write a good CV/resume (what to write in it, how to write it and how to organise it). Although this exercise will help you learn how to do these, there are other options you can use if you don't have the time.


Example & Exercise:

Look at the following CV/resume. The person is applying for a position as a senior sales executive in a multinational furniture manufacturer. Focus on both how and what information the person has included in their CV/resume, and on how this information is structured and presented.

Then do the quiz at the end of exercise to find out why this CV/resume has been both written and structured well for the job the person is applying for.

CURRICULUM VITAE

Juan Cruz

112 Doctor Esquerdo Street
Madrid 28007
Telephone: (0034) 645 921 788
E-mail: juan_cruz871@gmail.com

Nationality: Spanish

Date of Birth: 21st July 1981


PROFILE

A highly motivated individual with over 10 years experience of working in business-to-business sales. Experienced in selling a variety of different products to market leading business clients in both English and Spanish. Able to both work under pressure and apply different sales techniques and strategies when the situation demands. Have throughout my career constantly surpassed sales targets and won several sales awards.


WORK EXPERIENCE

Jan 11 – Now
Senior International Sales Executive,
Telefonica SA, Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain

Senior member of the international sales team at Telefonica. The team is responsible for landing large scale telecommunication networking contracts with businesses throughout the world.

Responsibilities & Achievements:
  • Performed full cycle sales process (from creating bids, through negotiations to closing) for multi-million dollar projects with clients from across the world.
  • Building up & maintaining relationships with both existing & potential new clients.
  • Implemented a new lead generating process with contributed to a €240 million growth in revenue.
  • Fire warden for the floor of the office.
  • Member of the sales strategy committee at Telefonica. Responsible for devising and implementing sales processes and procedures across the company.
  • Awarded 'Telefonica sales executive of the year' in 2013 for sales revenue generated.
  • Have been responsible for obtaining contracts for Telefonica worth over €61.3 million.
Sep 09 – Dec 10
Sales Executive,
Telefonica SA, Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain

Member of the small business sales team at Telefonica which is responsible for selling telecommunication solutions for small businesses throughout Spain.

Responsibilities & Achievements:
  • Onsite sales visits to existing and potential new business clients in Madrid.
  • Creating tailored solutions and offers to existing and potential new business clients.
  • Performed regular workshops to local business owners to promote the company and generate leads.
  • Due to performance, promoted to a senior position in the international sales team.
Mar 08 – Jun 09
Australian & New Zealand Travel

Travelled through Australia and New Zealand for a over year to both improve my English level and to see more of the world. During the year, I held various short-term jobs.

Feb 02 – Mar 08
Sales Executive,
Almagro Construction SA, Leganes, Madrid, Spain

Member of the sales team in the building materials division of Almagro Construction, one of Europe's leading constructors and suppliers of building related materials.

Responsibilities & Achievements:
  • Performed full cycle sales process (from creating bids, through negotiations to closing) for multi-million dollar projects with business clients from across the Europe.
  • Building up & maintaining relationships with both existing & potential new clients.
  • Co-created a sales team application to both document progress and aid in time management. Led to a 9% growth in new contracts.
  • I was a member of the division's marketing strategy group.
  • Created a training programme for all new sales staff in the division.
  • Generated the highest volume of new accounts in the department in 2004 & 2006. Won the company's 'sales executive of the year' award in both years.
Aug 01 – Jan 02
Customer Services Assistant,
Santander SA, Madrid, Spain

A temporary position in the customer services call centre of the bank Santander. Responsibilities included dealing with inbound customer enquiries and promoting the bank's products.

Jul 97 - Sep 00
Life Guard,
Alcorcon Municipal Pool, Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain

A part-time and temporary position during the summer holidays.


EDUCATION AND TRAINING

1998 - 2001
Universidad de Complutense, Madrid, Spain:
BA(Hons) Geography
1991 - 1998
St Michael's Secondary School, Madrid, Spain:
A-levels: Geography (B), English (B), Sociology (B) & Economics (C)
GCSEs: 9 Grade C or above

Vocational Courses & Qualifications

Advanced Microsoft Access Certificate
Microsoft NT4 Network Support Certificate
Presentation Skills Course
Technical Writing Course

Diploma in Advanced Sales Methodology
Diploma in Ethical Sales Strategies
Time Management & Prioritization Course
Online Sales & Marketing Course
Advanced Microsoft Excel Certificate


Languages:
Native language: Spanish
Fluent: English


INTERESTS

In my spare time I enjoy cycling, cooking, socializing and reading history and fiction.







Quiz:

Below are 12 questions about the above CV/resume. Choose the correct answer from each question's selection box. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, this icon will appear next to the answer. Click on this for both extra information and a detailed explanation why this answer is correct.

1.

Which of the five main sections in the CV/resume can you choose not to include?

     

Interests:
To be honest, the 'interests' section has never influenced my decision to offer somebody a job interview (and often I don't read it). So if there is any section you can miss out from your CV/resume, it is this one.

Most employers only really want to know about your work experience and to a lesser degree for most jobs your qualifications and training. But if you decide to include it (and there's no problem if you do), keep it short and avoid including things which put into questions your ability to do the job (e.g. activities which may interfere with you doing the job or require you to take a lot of time off from work.).

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2.

What is the reason why the different sections on the CV/resume are in the order they are?

     

Potential employers are used to CVs having this section order:
This is the standard order for the different sections on CVs/resumes for most professions:

1. Contact & Essential Information
2. Profile
3. Work Experience
4. Education & Training
5. Interests

The reason why keeping this section order is important is that the people who are going to be reading your CV/resume will expect to see it. By using this standard section order, it enables them to quickly find the information they are looking for.

When a company advertises a job, they are more than likely going to get tens if not hundreds of CVs/resumes sent to them for the position. The harder it is for them to find the information that they are looking for on a CV, the higher the probability that the candidate will be rejected. So use a standard section structure/order.

Although you should use this structure on your CV/resume for most jobs, for some professions (e.g. for academic jobs) different sections or a section structure may be used. So, make sure that you use the standard structure and sections on your CV/resume for the type of job you are applying for.

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3.

Why are the section titles in the middle of the page and use a large font?

     

To help people quickly find the information they are looking for:
Having a good CV/resume is not only about having well written and appropriate information, but also how easily this information can be found. You need to make sure that there are clear divisions between the different sections on it. If you don't, people reading it may have problems knowing where one section stops and another starts.

For me, the best way to do this for sections is to centre the section heading in middle of page with a larger size font than the rest of the text. Also make sure there is a clear separation between the different sections.

You should also use a similar separation when writing down the different jobs and positions you have had in the work experience section.

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4.

Why do some of the sentences on the CV/resume have bullet points (•) in front of them?

     

To highlight important abilities, experiences & achievements:
Bullet points are good way to highlight information which you believe is important. I find they work well when listing responsibilities and achievements for different jobs and positions you've had and you want the person reading the CV/resume to know about.

Don't over use bullet points on a CV/resume and only use them for highlighting one type of information. For example, I would use bullet points to only highlight responsibilities and achievements for different jobs and positions.

If you want to highlight other things on CV/resume (e.g. qualifications), use a different form of highlighting (e.g. underline or bold). It makes the CV/resume both easier to understand and to find things.

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5.

What is the main purpose of the profile section on a CV/resume?

     

To summarize the most important information contained on the rest of the CV:
A common mistake which people make with the profile (personal profile) section is to use it to say how good they are (the best place to self promote yourself is on a cover/covering letter which you should always send with a CV/resume when you apply for a job), but it shouldn't be used for this.

This section should be to give a quick insight (like a summary) into you and to what information you've included on the rest of the CV/resume. Briefly talk about your most important abilities, experience and achievements which are relevant to the job you are applying for.

This section is good for clarifying information which you may not have pointed out or be clear on the rest of the CV/resume (e.g. 'able to work under pressure' or 'total number of years you have worked in a type of job').

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6.

What style of vocabulary should you use on a CV/resume?

     

Formal:
This is pretty obvious, but the choice of vocabulary you use on your CV/resume is quite important. The use of formal verbs and words makes you sound more professional. For example, instead of using 'can', use 'able to', or 'thorough' instead of 'careful'.

Although using professional sounding vocabulary won't help you get an interview if you don't have the skills or experience that they are looking for, it will help if you do.

Click here to see examples of professional sounding CV and job interview vocabulary.

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7.

Why do some jobs in the work experience section have a list of 'responsibilities & achievements', while others don't?

     

These jobs are more relevant for the job being applied for than the others:
In the work experience section on a CV/resume it is important that you write all (or the majority of) the jobs you've had. Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of space on a CV/resume. So, you have to focus more on some jobs than others.

The decision on which jobs you focus more on depends on their relevancy to the job you are applying for. If a job is not relevant, write a couple of sentences at most about what it was and your main responsibilities.

Some people leave off these irrelevant jobs from their CV/resume. Although you can do it (if the job was a long time ago or you did it when studying), if it leaves a large unexplained time gap in your work experience, the person seeing it may wonder what you were doing then.

In the work experience section you need to account for all your time. So it's best to include any period of unemployment, sabbaticals (e.g. world travel or study) or irrelevant jobs you had.

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8.

In a CV sent for a sales position, which sentence in the responsibilities & achievements part of the 'Senior International Sales Executive job at Telefonica' should not be included?

     

Fire warden for the floor of the office:
You don't have a lot of space on a CV/resume, so make sure that everything that you include is both important and relevant for the job you are applying for. The best way to decide what is, is to put yourself in the position of the person looking to hire somebody for the job. What experience, responsibilities, achievements and qualifications would they be looking for and what wouldn't they care about?

I would recommend that you consider modifying what you include on your CV/resume for each job you apply for. It won't take long to do and it will improve your chances of getting a job interview.

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9.

Which sentence in the responsibilities & achievements the 'Senior International Sales Executive job at Almagro Construction' is written incorrectly for a CV/resume?

     

I was a member of the division's marketing strategy group:
For some reason, there is a certain convention for how you write sentences on a CV/resume. When you write about yourself, you don't start sentences with a subject (e.g. 'I'). Instead, you should always start a sentence with a verb (e.g. completed), adjective (e.g. motivated) or adverb (e.g. successfully). For example:

Instead of writing,

'I presented the annual sales team awards for the company'

You should use,

'Presented the annual sales team awards for the company'

This is especially important to do when you write about your roles, responsibilities and achievements in the different jobs you've had. For some reason it just looks more professional.

The only section where you should start sentences with a subject is 'interests'.

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10.

In a CV sent for a sales position in a furniture manufacturer, which vocational course/qualification in the education & training section is not necessary to include?

     

Microsoft NT4 Network Support Certificate:
You don't have a lot of space on CV/resume, so make sure that everything that you include is both important and relevant for the job you are applying for. The best way to decide what is, is to put yourself in the position of the person looking to hire somebody for the job. With qualifications and training, only include those which the potential employer would see as necessary or relevant. Exclude those which have nothing to do with the job.

I would recommend that you consider modifying what you include on your CV/resume for each job you apply for. It won't take long to do and it will improve your chances of getting a job interview.

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11.

Which of the 3 factors below is the most important in deciding what information to include on a CV/resume?

     

It is relevant for the job you are applying for:
Although using the right vocabulary is important when writing a CV / resume, including experiences, responsibilities, qualifications etc... which are relevant for the job you are applying for is by far more important. This is what any potential employer will be looking for on a CV/resume. If they don't find it or there's too much information which they don't see as relevant, your chances of being offered an interview are low.

What is relevant will change for each job you apply for. The best way to decide what is or what isn't, is to put yourself in the position of the person looking to hire somebody for the job. What experience, responsibilities, achievements and qualifications would they be looking for and what wouldn't they care about?

I would recommend that you consider modifying what you include on your CV/resume for each job you apply for. This is especially important in the responsibilities & achievements parts of the jobs you've had. Ask yourself if there are things you need to add to your CV/resume that will make you appear as a good candidate for the position. Likewise, are there things you need to change or remove because they are not relevant for the job you are applying for.

To help me do this, I have a word document which contains all the phrases which I have used (for achievements, responsibilities, qualifications, trainings etc...) when applying for different types of jobs. I use these phrases to change the content on the CV/resume to make it more relevant for the job I was applying for.

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12.

Why should a CV/resume be short (2 pages long), well organised/structured and only contain information relevant to the job you are applying for?

     

It makes it quicker and easier to read for potential employers:
When a company advertises a job, they are more than likely going to get tens if not hundreds of CVs/resumes sent to them for the position. It’s not an enjoyable task to have to look through all these CV/resumes to choose a select few to interview.

To save time, most people normally skim through most of them, searching for experiences, responsibilities, achievements etc... which are relevant for the position. The harder and longer it takes them to find the information that they are looking, the higher the probability that the candidate will be rejected.

So it's essential you try to make this task as easy for them as possible. Keep your CV/resume short (around 2 A4 paper sides is perfect). Use a standard structure where the different sections, jobs etc... are clearly separated (to help them quickly find information they are looking for). And make sure that the information you include is relevant for the job you are applying for.

If you do this, you chances of being selected for a job interview will be significantly increased

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