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Tips for a successful CV in NL

Formatting tips:

  1. In Europe, a CV could be 2 pages but no more than 2.
  2. Make absolutely no spelling/grammatical mistake, align all bullet points, sentence, and make sure using the “.” in the same manner (either at the end of ALL bullets, or just take it out from all).
  3. Use concise sentence, no jargon or abbreviations, and don’t make the recruiter to think too much.
  4. Use no more than 2 different fonts on your CV, as too many fonts cause distracting. However you can use bold, italics or underscore if you want to highlight something. The font size is advised to be 10-11, depending on the amount of contents.
  5. We don’t recommend you to put personal picture, gender, and nationality on the normal jobs you apply for (avoid being discriminated on any of the three).
  6. For the sake of easy formatting, alignment and understanding, we suggest having numbers rather than abbreviations of month for the timeline. MM/YY is the common practice in west Europe.

Start your CV:

  1. Draft a tailor-made CV for a position you are applying is very important, this includes covering most of the requirements on that job description. However we also advice that please don’t overdo this as the recruiter can easily tell if it was farfetched and unnatural.
  2. Personal summary is optional, however do not duplicate what you have already in your CV and don’t be too much subjective. It doesn’t help with much subjective wordings without example to back them up. (e.g. I’m a very diligent student; I have excellent interpersonal communication skill etc. Remember to use examples to back them up!)
  3. Present experience/education etc. in reversed chronological order. Only show the most relevant experience/education.
  4. For a graduate with limited working experience, start the main body with education/training rather than working experience. For a professional with several years working experience, the order can be switched.
  5. Even for open application, please be specific with mentee’s application objective. That gives recruiter a feeling that this CV might be tailor made.


  1. When you present your university, apart from name, also put in which country the university is based in. Present your degree and major in a concise way. For your highest degree, or the degree you think the most relevant to the job you are applying, you can present the name of your thesis and relevant core courses. However don’t overdo this as it’s a CV, not a transcript!
  2. If you have any work related accreditation (CFA, CIMA, ACCA, CPA, etc.) you can list it in your education field (just like on Linkedin). In case you are in the process of finishing the accreditation, put a date when you expect to finish.
  3. If your GPA is high, include it in Education as well.
  4. For foreign universities, good to highlight the ranking in that country.

Professional experience:

  1. Use bullet points to describe your achievement (not only what you have done, but what impact you had or what really makes you be proud of)
  2. Always start the bullet with the past time of a verb (unless the action is still undergoing). Try to use more preferred key words (example see: here). Those words are more result oriented. (what you have achieved). An example of non-preferred word could be – “learned”. However if you intended to say this skill is completely external to your academic study, sure you can use that, but don’t overdo it.
  3. If possible, try to quantify your work experience and achievement. (It could be a monetary value, number of people involved, the percentage of your scholarship etc.) These give recruiter a straightforward view how hard your task was and competitive you are.
  4. A way to show your achievement or impact is what kind of legacy you’ve left the team with or in what way your work was used.
  5. If in any of the company you worked, you had a positive high-level exposure, feel free to present it here in an objective manner.

Extra curriculum and other info:

  1. If all of your extra-curriculum activities were related to or reflects your strong leadership, then your can categorize this section as “Leadership”. Similar words could be “entrepreneurship”, “Team work experience” etc.
  2. Everyone can use Microsoft products, and most of them will say “excellent skill” on CV. If he masters (or know how to use) advantage functionalities (e.g. VBA, Macro etc.) please do put them on. Also for relevant jobs, please add other specialized software such as Matlab, FEM, SPSS, etc.
  3. Do list all the languages you know in this session and be very concise. The level could be: basic, functional, median, fluent, native (bi-lingual).
  4. Reference section is optional, if you already have a reference letter or you are confident that your previous manager can be a good reference of you (i.e. he/she knows you well and can stand up for you if being called up) then it’s a good idea to put their names on CV.


The tips for an ideal cover letter are based on our professional career coaches from HoiTalent 10+ years collective experience as career consultants in Europe as well as literature. However please recognize that different industry, company or even HR might have different selecting criteria and preferences.