How to Write Your Resume/CV
January 01, 2010
Your resume or Curriculum Vitae will be the most important document you will prepare in your search for a job - it's worth spending some time to get it right.
Here are some general guidelines - then some specific tips
Write, or at least tailor it, for a specific job if possible.
Do a draft then develop it. Show it to people and ask them what it says about you and how clearly it says it.
Start early - well before the time to make applications. (Your CV will not change very much during your program - excepting that you may wish to list any electives you decide to take in your program, and you will have lots of things that must be done later).
Make it a good looking document - check all spelling, grammar, syntax, layout etc. and do not use fancy designs, clipart or humour.
Tell it 'like it is' - don't exaggerate, lie or conceal anything, and don't be vague.
The more senior the position that you are applying for - the more details you will be expected to provide.
Follow any specific instructions - don't send standard CVs.
Write it yourself- don't get someone else to do it for you.
Always send your resume/CV with a cover letter - and be clear about the purpose of each (see section on cover letters).
Give basic details of your last salary - only if recent and relevant.
Tips writing your resume-
- In a CV for a specific job - use language that they will recognise (look at their Web page - look for key phrases - eg 'adding value' and use them sparingly in your Resume/CV).
- Start with an Objectives section, ie what job or type of job you seek, then:
- Put it in chronological order - most recent things first.
- Be concise and precise.
- Keep sections/paragraphs short.
- Focus on the company's needs - not yours. Say what you can contribute.
- Identify your achievements - focus on results, not responsibilities.
- Give specific examples - eg managed project X over Y months to achieve Z.
- Don't use 'I'.
- If possible - put the key points at the beginning of a section.
- Send a top copy - not a photocopy.
- Differentiate yourself - don't fold and post your resume - send it in a bigger envelope.
- Don't list referees unless you have been asked for them.
- Make it action oriented - ie what you 'managed', 'developed' etc.
- Keep biographical/personal details to a minimum.
Some organizations will allow you to send Resumes/CVs electronically. Always check before you do so.
Send your cover letter electronically also.
Put both the cover letter and the resume as a single document.
Don't send either as attachments - they may never be opened.
Send a hard copy of both as follow up.
- Use a standard word processing application, and don't use complex formatting.
- Make the maximum line length 65 characters, inclusive of spaces.
- Send your document to yourself or someone else first, to see that it arrives and looks OK.
- Save a copy.
- Put the strong points first - readers are less likely to scroll down than to flip pages.
- Run a spell check but don't rely totally on it - it won't find words that are correctly spelled but incorrectly used.
Never send your resume/CV or cover letter by fax - unless you are specifically asked to do so.