How to draft the perfect CV that will get you hired in the construction and engineering industry? The 7 seconds test.

When applying for certain positions in Belgium, as well as jobs internationally, you may be required to submit a curriculum vitae rather than a resume. A curriculum vitae, or  CV, includes more information than your typical resume, including details of your education and academic achievements, research, publications, awards, affiliations, and more.

Writing the perfect CV is for many job seekers not an obvious thing to do. Especially when you have been off the active candidate (job seeker) market for a long time.
As you might know, recruiters often only spend 7 seconds to screen your CV. So you better make sure your CV stands out.

Here are some tips how to survive the 7 seconds screening test of your CV.

  1.  Start with your personal details and contact information. Keep it professional, avoid superfluous details such as religious affiliations, children’s names and so on.
  2. Education and qualifications. Take care to include the names of the institutions and dates attended in revers order
  3. Write in 3 sentences what you have to offer and what kind of role you are looking for (if not done in your cover letter). This will help the recruiter immediately to understand the context of your CV. You might be tempted to write more sentences, but rest assured, please don’t. This will be immediately a hint for the recruiter you can’t make your point.
  4. Work experience and employment historyMake it chronological. Your career history is presented in reverse date order starting with most recent. Achievements and responsibilities are listed for each role. More emphasis/information should be put on more recent jobs.
    Don’t leave any date gaps in your CV as this will trigger an experienced recruiter immediately asking questions afterwards you might want to avoid.
  5. Use a consistent formatting. Each block in your CV should start with your job title, the company you worked for and the start and end date. If your previous employer didn’t use the industry’s standard names, feel free to add (not to replace) the standard name as well so the recruiter doesn’t waste time on figuring out what you actually did. Write in max. 4 sentences the responsibilities you had, the budgets you managed, etc. Make sure not to drift from reality as this will harm your credibility. In short, don’t add upgrades of things you didn’t do.
  6. Use bullet points, come straight to the point. Avoid all the typical buzzwords like: specialized, leadership, passionate, strategic, experienced, focused, expert, certified, creative, excellent. Because if you think you are all that, so is everyone else.

As we are living in a Tech World where everybody is reachable, online, on the grid, in the zone, etc. You surely need to add your computer and software skills in your CV. In the engineering world, these skills can often make the difference in scoring your first interview or not.

Extras to add?

Only add extras if you think these will enrich your CV and tell the recruiter something more about the real person you are. Again, don’t do overkill!
Examples: Brief biography, scholarships, training, study abroad, dissertations, theses, bibliography, research experience, graduate fieldwork, teaching experience, publications.

What not to include in your CV?

Don’t be a poet, don’t be negative, keep an open mind and stay professional. You don’t mention your salary history or expectations, the reason you left your previous position and references in your CV. References should be listed separately and given to employers upon request.

Do I need to add my picture?

That’s a though question. If you feel confident you add your picture, otherwise don’t.
If you also added your picture to your LinkedIn profile, there is no reason why you shouldn’ add it to your CV as well.

Do I need to add a link to my LinkedIn profile?

If you have a LinkedIn profile, the answer would be “yes”. It will allow the recruiter to have a more complete idea of your track record and often triggers the recruiter to discover more about you. This is always a good thing. In the best case scenario, the recruiter will even connect with you on Linkedin even before you have been invited to an interview.

What should be the length of my CV?

That’s easy. Idealy 2, max 3 pages. Choose your words carefully.

Some extra tips

  • Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for and the company you want to work for. General written CVs often don’t go further than receiving a reject email.
  • Applying for the job of your dreams requires you to invest some of your time to make sure you give a smahing first impression.
  • Don’t forget to check for spelling errors. Ask someone to proofread your CV (and give comments).