By: Sobhan Mohmand, Editorial manager Last updated: 18 Nov 2018
Your CV’s header is the first thing that prospective employers will see when they look at your CV so it is vital that you present the heading in the best format possible.
Over the years, applicants have written different things as the headings of their CVs. Some are good, some bad and others are just plain ugly!
Do not start your CV with any of the following headings:
You shouldn’t do this for two simple reasons:
“Confidential” as a heading is also not a good idea because a CV by its very nature will contain some sensitive or personal information.
Ask yourself: “Is my CV too confidential to be read by prospective employers or their secretaries?”
If the answer is no, then why write “confidential” at the top of it?
Let’s face it; your CV probably does not contain top secret or highly sensitive information about artificial intelligence projects or the Pentagon’s secret UFO programs.
Your CV is just one of the millions of other CVs that is being read and reviewed on a monthly basis during the recruitment process.
Besides, employers do not have a habit of – or the time for! – passing around your CV to others without it being part of the recruitment and candidate selection process.
It should be assumed that employers treat everyone’s personal details with the utmost care, regardless of whether the documents are labelled “confidential” or not.
Consider below the CV header of Carlos Norris (NOT related to the legendary Chuck Norris):
Carlos has made excellent use of his CV heading by using this valuable space to write his first and surname in:
He has not wasted additional valuable space of his CV by writing “Curriculum Vitae” or “Confidential” as its header.
By writing his name in big bold letters and centred on the page, he has made it easier for employers to instantly identify who this CV belongs to.
Besides the main heading of your CV, it also contains a number of subheadings.
A typical CV format consists of the following 9 sections:
This section contains your name and contact details.
Your personal profile statement is a short statement that outlines your skills, abilities, education and work experience to date. It is an overview of what you can offer to the employer and their organisation.
The achievements section of your CV contains a list of your most important achievements that are relevant to do the job.
You can include a lot of accomplishments in this section, including awards, promotions, excellent grades, increased sales or productivity, etc.
The education section is a summary of your educational background to date. All entries should be in chronological order (i.e. most recent entries first).
You may put this section before or after the work experience section, it depends entirely on where you are in your career for which job you are applying for. As a rule of thumb, place the education section before the employment section if you do not have a lot of relevant work experience.
The work experience section should contain all the relevant work experience that you have to date. This may include work in full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, paid, unpaid, placements and internships positions.
You can also label this CV subheading as “Employment” or “Employment history.”
The qualifications section contains a list of your qualifications, particularly those that are relevant to the job.
The qualifications section is sometimes combined with the education section. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. You may completely remove this subheading and combine it with the education section with the heading:
“Education and qualifications”
The skills and abilities section is located on the second page of your CV, containing a brief list of your key skills, abilities and competencies.
Examples of skills that you can include in this section are:
You can use the hobbies and interests section of your CV to demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded person who is engaged in extracurricular activities and in the community.
The references section should be the last subheading of your CV.
You can either write the complete contact details of your two referees, or you can simply write: “References are available upon request.”
Both methods are acceptable.
Tip 1: Do not CAPITALIZE your CV headings as it gives the impression that you’re shouting which is off-putting and it also makes the text more difficult to read.
Tip 2: Use your name that you are known by rather than your full legal name as it appears on your birth certificate.
For example, if you’re known as Ruby Philips it can be quite confusing for others if your CV is entitled: Ruby Karla Sarah Phillips!
Tip 3: Do not use nicknames – e.g. Dave instead of David – it makes you look less professional in the later stages of the application process where your actual name is required.