Tips for writing your CV

Do submit your CV!

Your CV is like your signature, your opportunity to convince us that you may be the right person for the job.

Content: keep it relevant.

Keep any job-unrelated material to a minimum. A typical CV contains five sections, usually in the following order:

  • Personal details (name, address, your digital footprint (e.g. Linkedin, a personal webpage) etc.). Don't feel obliged to tell us about your gender and family situation, this is not job-related.  A picture is not necessary either: it doesn’t tell us anything about your competencies and we’re not hiring on looks!
  • Profile summary at the top of your CV: a brief statement that summarises your journey and key skills for the job you're applying for.
  • Key skills: be selective, focus on those that are relevant to the job. An overloaded list will lose its impact.
  • Relevant work experience, in reverse chronological order. This is the most important section, as past experience will inform us about your potential for the position. Refer as much as possible to specific  achievements e.g. size of team you have managed, length/budget/scope of projects you have worked on, gain in efficiency you have achieved etc.
  • Educational background, languages, training courses: mention only background which is relevant for the job.
    • Specify the start and the end dates of your studies and professional experiences or expected graduation date (in the following format : DD.MM.YYYY) .
    • Specify the type of your most recent university diploma (MSc, BSc, PhD, etc) as well as the one you’re intending to enroll for in the coming months, if you plan to continue studying.

Format: keep it short, clear and concise

  • Aim to fit your CV on no more than two A4 pages, whatever the length of your experience.
  • Avoid using standard CV templates you find on the web. Writing a CV is personal, so an opportunity to convey your unique strengths and skills: make the most of it and tailor it!
  • Take care of layout, headings, spacing and font: your CV must look attractive, easy to read and professional: avoid overloading with colours or quirky formatting.
  • Check any spelling, grammar and other mistakes: a CV littered with errors affect the credibility of your application.
  • Use bullet points to explain your duties and achievements. Keep them simple and impactful by using action verbs. Avoid narrative style: recruiters have little time to read it.. Efficiency and clarity are key!
  • Please submit all application documents either in French or in English, the two official working languages used at CERN.

And now come the tips: how to stand out from the crowd!

It is key that you catch the recruiter’s attention within the first seconds. Here are 3 tips to make your CV stand out of the crowd.

  • Tailor your CV to the position in question: if you have many years of professional experience you may want to share all of it: as a result your may  end up with a 15-page CV which is not advisable. Short and concise is key: succeeding in focusing on and highlighting what is relevant for the post you apply for is a great  asset for your application.
  • Read the vacancy notice carefully, tailor your wording to the job and emphasise those experiences that are relevant to it! If you have been waiter at a restaurant, that's great, but it’s probably not very helpful in designing superconducting magnets.  Recruiters at CERN don’t use software search for key words, nevertheless their eyes unconsciously seek them out when they have to read over 200 CVs.

The sooner the recruiter identifies key words that relate to the job, the higher the probability you will make it through this first stage.