Writing a résumé/CV

Before beginning to draft your résumé/CV, read the job posting carefully so that you are clear about the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for. It will create a good impression if you tailor both your application letter and the résumé/CV to the job in question, focusing on qualifications and experience that are particularly relevant.

 

Dos and Don’ts
 
Here are some general points to bear in mind when preparing your résumé/CV:
 
Do
 
  • keep your résumé/CV brief and concise: there is no need to go into a lot of detail about your education or employment history.
  • try to keep your résumé/CV to one or two pages (using both sides of the paper is preferable).
  • use brief, informative sentences, short paragraphs, and standard English.
  • when describing your responsibilities and achievements, start each point with an action verb (such as teaching, leading, developing): this creates more impact.
  • use bold type or bullet points to highlight key information.
  • proofread for spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes: many employers routinely discard résumés/CVs that contain this type of mistake.
  • update your résumé/CV regularly as your situation changes.
Don’t
 
  • go into too much detail: employers are too busy to read rambling or unfocused résumés/CVs.
  • leave gaps in your employment history: add a sentence or two explaining any periods that are not accounted for.
  • use too many different fonts or typefaces: keep to one or two that are clear and easy to read.
  • use inappropriate colors, graphics, or photos.
  • name people as references unless you’ve confirmed that they’re happy to provide a reference for you.
 
Structuring your résumé/CV
 
A résumé/CV should be clear and well structured, with a limited number of main sections, so that an employer can pinpoint the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. Here are some broad guidelines on how to structure an effective résumé/CV:
 
Personal details
 
Always begin with your personal details, i.e.:
 
  • name
  • address
  • telephone number (home and/or cell)
  • e-mail address (personal, rather than work)
  • personal profile
 
There’s no need to include your date of birth, your marital status, or your nationality unless the job posting has specifically asked you for this information.
 
A personal profile is a way of introducing yourself to a potential employer. It outlines who you are, what skills and qualities you have, and why you would be an asset to the company. It also provides a good opportunity to tailor your application to the requirements of a job before you move on to the details of your experience or qualifications.
 
Employment history
 
Beginning with your current job, if you have one:
  • Give a brief outline of your current role, responsibilities, and skills, focusing on those that are most relevant for the job you’re applying for.
  • Work backward through other jobs you’ve held, giving a brief summary of each. There's no need to go into a lot of detail unless you want to highlight an aspect that’s particularly relevant to your application. Include work placements and volunteer work, if applicable.
  • Unless you’re very young, or you’re applying for your first main job, it isn’t necessary to list all the less important jobs you may have done. You could summarize them as, for example, ‘various temporary administrative posts.’
  • Avoid leaving unexplained gaps in your employment history as this can create a negative impression. If you've been raising a family, unemployed, or taking a career break, add a sentence explaining this.
  • Treat any significant periods of unemployment in a positive way: you could outline any activities you engaged in while unemployed, such as carrying out volunteer work or learning new skills.
 
Educational qualifications 
 
  • If you’re still a student, start by giving this information, making it clear that your studies are ongoing and when your classes are due to end.
  • If you’ve completed any other further or higher education, outline this next.
  • Then give your secondary school or schools and the dates you attended, together with a list of your majors, as well as other specific and relevant courses of study.
 
Any other skills, achievements, or training
 
  • List any relevant courses or training you’ve completed (e.g., to gain IT skills or knowledge of a foreign language).
  • Mention any significant awards you have received or other professional achievements that would be relevant to the job you are applying for.
Interests or pastimes
 
  • A brief outline of your interests and hobbies can help to give a potential employer an insight into the type of person you are. They may also indicate skills you have that you are not using in your current position.
References
 
  • Give the names and contact details of people who would be willing to give you a reference. Ideally, one person should be from your current (or most recent) place of work, while the second could be from a previous employer.
  • If you’re applying for your first job, you could give the name of a teacher, or anyone who knows you well enough to vouch for your character (apart from members of your family).
  • Always make sure that the people you have in mind are happy to provide a reference for you before you add their names to your résumé/CV.
 
Sample résumés/CVs
 
Here are two examples of résumés/CVs. The first résumé/CV is for a student who's starting out on her career by applying for a job as a business analyst with an international company. See her accompanying job application cover letter.
 
The second résumé/CV is for a person who’s planning to change his career from teaching to social work, after having returned to college. See his application cover letter.

 


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