How to write a killer CV: a student’s perspective

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My journey to having a killer CV which got me interviews at top tech firms, banks, and consultancy firms was a long and rocky one. I looked at templates online and followed them, but none of them were truly useful. When I met my mentor, Anita-Mai Goulding, she showed me her CV – and I realised I had been doing it the wrong way.

Here are the lessons I have learned on creating a killer CV from the many people who have mentored me and helped me on the way. This article is predominantly focused on students and recent graduates. However, I hope more experienced people will find inspiration here too.

STEP 1: Brainstorm 🤯

Take a piece of paper and write down every single bit of work experience, education, certification, volunteering, awards you have done and achieved. Literally everything.

Don’t worry about relevancy, because you will decide later what is useful from this brainstorming paper.


STEP 2: Structure CV 🧱

A clear structure is everything. When I was hiring a new intern at Adobe, I barely looked at CVs that were poorly structured. If the person can’t put a structured CV on paper, they most likely can’t think in a structured way. You want it to be easy for the recruiter to understand who you are from your CV.

This is an example of a structure you should follow if you are a student or a recent graduate.



STEP 3: Tailor it to your role & industry 👩‍💻

Define what type of role you are applying for. Are you applying for investment banking, marketing, or sales roles?

Take the most relevant examples from your brainstorming paper, and add them to your CV.


STEP 4: Sell yourself by quantifying (the most important section) 💁‍♀️

Whenever I sent a CV that described what I did at a particular role, I was unsuccessful. So I asked experienced people from big firms what they were looking for.

They don’t what to see what you have ‘done’. They want to see what you have ‘achieved’.

This is a formula that Laszlo Bock from Google suggests: “I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ (It is not necessary to include ‘relative to Y’)

Wrong: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’

Correct: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to an average of six by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following areas for three years.’

After I started using this formula, I finally got more interview invitations with companies like Goldman Sachs and Google.

Here is an example of my CV.


STEP 5: Design your CV 🎨

Use Word or Google Docs for creating the content for your CV, but use other creative apps to design your CV. There is nothing more boring than going through 100 black and white boring CVs. Make your one standout and personalise it to the company.

Use canvas or other designing tools. I use Adobe InDesign or Adobe XD.

Here is an example of my CV for Google.


STEP 6: Spelling & review ✏️

I would look over my CV million times and see no grammatical mistakes. Then, I asked my friend to look at it and BOOM. “How did I not see it?” I would ask myself 🤷🏻‍♀️.

First, use Grammarly, and then ask your friends, family, or connections to critique your CV and spelling. This is such an underestimated step, but it’s super important to get someone else’s view on your CV.

Relevant and quantifiable content, great design, and peer critique! You should remember these three things. We live in a competitive world, and you should go above and beyond to stand out if you are reaching for the best of the best.

You live only one life, you might as well try reaching for the best by being your best self.

  • Khulan Davaajav is a SOAS Digital Ambassador and third-year student on the BA International Relations and Hebrew. Khulan is due to join Google as an Associate Account Strategist upon graduating in 2020.
  • SOAS Careers is open to all SOAS students & Alumni. They offer one-to-one careers guidance, CV & application checks and interview preparation, as well as a huge host of online careers resources. Find out more at

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