How To Write A Great CV or Résumé

5

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writing cv

 

Oxford
Dictionary
Definition

Résumé

noun -
1) a summary

2) N Amer. a curriculum vitae

origin from French, 'resumed'

 

Section 2 - CV or Résumé ?

After sitting in the employer's chair, you should have got a few clues about how best to approach the job application process, what the employer is looking for and what information you give away besides the facts that you've written.

There are many styles of CV or Résumé and the mode you choose will usually reflect the country in which you live as well as the profession or chosen field of work.

The more formal and detailed Curriculum Vitae is usually more lengthy and includes more information generally than a Résumé. A CV tends to be the preferred option in some countries and with academic institutions generally.

The US generally seems to favour the style of the Résumé, which is more concise and summarises some information.

Whichever approach you take, CV or Résumé, there are still some principles that apply regardless.

Presentation

In particular - legibility, spelling, grammar.

Whatever the style, your job application, CV, Résumé and/or letter of introduction should always be neat, organised and well written. This is an absolute essential.

 

Oxford
Dictionary
Definition

Curriculum
Vitae

noun
(pl curricula vitae)

a brief account of a person's education, qualifications and previous occupations, sent with a job application

origin Latin, 'course of life'

 

 

Contact Information

Contact information should be clear, accurate and complete.

Include all modes of contact, including telephone, mobile, fax, postal address, email address. The more ways that you can be contacted, the easier it makes it for them to get in touch.

 
Job Target or Objective

State the position that you are applying for, up front, right at the beginning of your CV.

Bear in mind that the position you are applying for might not be the only one that is being dealt with by the person receiving applications. It would be a shame if your application was filed with the wrong batch and never reached its intended target for consideration.

 
 
Capabilities or Summary

This is a short synopsis or bulleted list at the beginning of your CV/résumé that summarises what you are capable of and that is relevant to the job application.

There is no point including irrelevant information here, keep it concise and firmly targeted at the job position you are applying for.

Make sure that you include the key words that an employer might be looking for, for the position you are applying. These might be tools or equipment, accreditations, languages, methods of work or systems. They are generally industry specific and would be used by people who really do work in that industry.

If you have been supplied with the selection criteria for the job, then this will guide you as to what is relevant.

In some cases you are asked to write a covering letter addressing the selection criteria and this would be completed as a separate document to preface your CV.

You still need to prepare your CV according to these guidelines though - CV's of the top applicants are often filed for future reference, even if they didn't get the job, because they might be relevant for a similar post or a further recruitment. You want your CV to include all the information that is necessary if it is picked up later, without the covering letter.

Example

Job Target: Project Manager (Information Systems)

Capabilities:

  • Plan, direct and co-ordinate activities of designated projects throughout all areas of an enterprise to ensure that objectives are accomplished to specification, on target and to budget.
  • Take responsibility for the set up and management of a project team and motivate its team members towards achieving its goals.
  • Monitor time, resources, costs and standards throughout the duration of a project and prepare status reports and risk analyses for senior management and clients.
  • Control and document all stages of a project to conform with ISO9001/BS5750 and standard project management methodologies in particular PRINCE.
  • Utilise project management tools such as MS Project to assist in project planning and the development of resource plans and work schedules for each phase of a project.
  • etc......

This summary contains job specific keywords and is a brief synopsis of the attributes of the applicant that are relevant to the position being targeted.

Life coaching advice

 

Qualifications & Credentials

List them with the most relevant and highest level of qualification first. The first on the list might as well give the best impression, because details further down could be glossed over.

 

 

Career History

Reverse chronological order i.e. the most recent jobs first, working backwards.

You are making sure that someone scanning your CV has got the most recent information first - they are looking for what experience you have in the field you are applying for and it needs to be recent.

They may not read beyond the beginning of it or might just scan the whole for continuous employment - unless you get through to the detailed scrutiny stage.

It is also important to cross-check your dates and be clear if jobs overlapped, or if you had time out of employment for specific reasons - such as further training or education, sabbaticals, etc.. Some people may misinterpret the information and wonder what you were doing during "missing years"!

How much detail you put in this section depends upon whether you are writing a CV or Résumé, but the above principles apply.

It is also worthwhile listing for each job, what are the important skills, tools, systems, etc that you used during this time. It helps the reviewer to build up a more complete picture of your experience over a period of time.

Example career history description:

Jan 1979 - Apr 1984 at Associated Dairies
Senior Programmer

As a Senior Programmer I was responsible for systems design, specification and more complex programming work on order processing, invoicing, stock control and EPOS systems relating to their general store's operation.
My other responsibilty was for the management and co-ordination of the work of a team of programmers, and included all aspects of staff management such as interviewing, training, allocation of work and progress reviews.

Honeywell L66/DPS8 (GCOS4/8);
IBM 3083 (MVS, JES3, TSO, ISPF, PANVALET);
COBOL, BASIC,
GMAP, MDQ, IDS, TDS, DMIV, TP, TSS/TEX,
DL/1, IMS DB/DC, MFS, BTS, VSAM

The above lists all the computers, software and languages used during this job. It is relevant to someone in this field, and gives a quick snapshot of what experience is current, or how long ago it was used.

 

 
Other Information

Depending upon the position and the particular industry, there may be other information that is relevant to include.

Examples might be -

a list of industry specific or workplace training courses that you have undertaken, languages that you are fluent in, computer software that you have used, mechanical equipment that you have worked on, publications that you have written and so on.

These should have an appropriate heading and be grouped in a way that someone can quickly assimilate the information.

Key Words

If you are a serious job hunter, then you are probably registered with several job agencies. Your CV will be in a database against which job opportunities will be matched. It is important therefore, to ensure that your skills list is up to date and includes all appropriate key words.

If you are registering with an online agency, via the internet say, then you will probably have an opportunity to add keywords to your details as a separate list - make full use of this, as it will determine how your CV is indexed. When matching jobs and CV's there is a better chance of yours being picked up and for more opportunities if you have all the variants of a key word listed.

Key Word Examples :

Sous Chef and Sous-Chef - if there can be more than one way to spell something, list all variants.

Project Manager, Project Coordinator, Team Leader are similar roles that you may be interested in, but different titles used for searching might mean your CV gets missed, unless you include similar roles in your key words.

Spreadsheet, Microsoft Excel, Excel97, Excel2000 etc.. Include generic references as well as more detailed keywords. Someone may not be fussy about what type of spreadsheet that you use, others may need you to be able to use a specific version.

 

It is worthwhile preparing a list of all the keywords relevant to your own CV. Group them according to type e.g. all job descriptions and roles together, all tools, all training courses, etc.. With a pre-prepared list, it can save you time when registering your details with job agencies and ensure that nothing important is overlooked. Being thorough with your registration details means that your CV has the best chance for being selected when a suitable job comes up.

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