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How to Write Your Resume/CV

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

Guidelines-

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.

Electronic Resumes/CVs.

Some organizations will allow you to send Resumes/CVs electronically. Always check before you do so.

Guidelines-

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.

Tips-

  • 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.

Faxes

Never send your resume/CV or cover letter by fax - unless you are specifically asked to do so.

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