Tips on presentation
- Your CV should be carefully and clearly laid out – not too cramped but not with large empty spaces either. Use bold and italic typefaces for headings and important information
- Never back a CV – each page should be on a separate sheet of paper. It’s a good idea to put your name in the footer area so that it appears on each sheet.
- Be concise: a CV is an appetizer and should not give the reader indigestion. Don’t feel that you have to list every exam you have ever taken, or every activity you have ever been involved in – consider which are the most relevant and/or impressive. The best CVs tend to be fairly economical with words, selecting the most important information and leaving a little something for the interview: they are an appetizer rather than the main course. Good business communications tend to be short and to the point, focusing on key facts and your CV should to some extent emulate this. The longer and more dense your CV is, the harder it is for an employer to comprehend your achievements. As Mark Twain said: “If only I had more time, I would write thee a shorter letter”.
- Be positive – put yourself over confidently and highlight your strong points. For example, when listing your A-levels, put your highest grade first.
- Be honest: although a CV does allow you to omit details (such as exam resits) which you would prefer the employer not to know about, you should never give inaccurate or misleading information. CVs are not legal documents and you can’t be held liable for anything within, but if a recruiter picks up a suggestion of falsehoods you will be rapidly rejected. An application form which you have signed to confirm that the contents are true is however a legal document and forms part of your contract of employment if you are recruited.
- The sweet spot of a CV is the area selectors tend to pay most attention to: this is typically around the upper middle of the first page, so make sure that this area contains essential information.
- If you are posting your CV, don’t fold it – put it in a full-size A4 envelope so that it doesn’t arrive creased.
- Include your name, permanent and local addresses (include zip codes), phone (include area code), email address, and WWW homepage if applicable.
- Brief statement summarizing the type of work you want to do and a career field in which you are interested.
- Let reader know your specific interests; provide a focus for the rest of the resume.
- Focus on skills; begin with active verbs such as “seeking,” “desire,” or “to obtain”.
- Summarize your educational achievements (colleges attended, their locations, graduation dates, certificates, academic majors, minors, and course concentrations).
- Start with most recent degree awarded and work backwards.
- Do not list high school or earlier education unless exceptional or relevant in some way.
- GPA is optional, include if you feel it will enhance your resume.
- Include any relevant coursework (specific to your objective) or training (laboratory techniques, computer skills, etc.).
- If you had paid for part of your college expenses through scholarships or work, you may include that in this section.
- Any experience relevant to your stated job objective, whether paid or unpaid, is significant and should be included in this section.
- You may include full-time or part-time work experience, volunteer jobs, internships, or cooperative education placements, and clinical experiences relevant to your field.
- Focus on transferable skills (communication, analysis, teamwork, research, leadership, writing).
- Emphasize any significant activities you participate in outside of work (community service, extracurricular, etc.).
- List activities that demonstrate leadership ability, initiative, good communication skills, and perseverance.
- Highlight leadership roles you have held.
Honors and Awards
- If award or organization is well known, listing your honors/awards may be sufficient.
- If not well known, write out identifying information or qualifications for award.
- For most resumes, it is sufficient to state “References available upon request.”
- You will need to create a separate reference page that should include the person’s name, title, address, and phone number.
- Ask individuals (supervisors, professors, advisors) if they will serve as a positive reference for you.
- Areas of Knowledge: special qualifications, language skills, military experience, etc.
- Publications and Presentations
- Personal Data (only if it relates to position you are applying for)
- Make resume professional, attractive, and easy to read.
- Place most important information first.
- Bold, italicize, capitalize, or underline critical facts.
- Do not include personal information (birthdate, race, etc.).
- Stress results, skills, and accomplishments rather than performed duties.
- Use the correct tense when describing past/present activities.
- Proofread for misspelled words and grammatical errors. (Have someone else proofread your resume).
- Use resume to market yourself.
- Choose headers to highlight your individual strengths (Leadership Skills, Computer Skills, Relevant Coursework, etc.).
- Begin sentences with action words.
- Avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my).
- Confine your resume to one page if possible.
- Do not use abbreviations, slang, or jargon.
- Laser print on good quality white or off-white resume paper.
Developing an Accomplishment Statement
Accomplishment statements should be brief, specific, and results oriented. Begin each statement with an action verb. Use quantitative or qualitative measures wherever possible.
In general, consider an activity to be an accomplishment if any of the following occurred:
- Your performance exceeded past performances.
- Equal results were achieved with less resources.
- Things were made easier, simpler, or were done more quickly.
- Something new was achieved.
An effective accomplishment statement consists of four parts:
- A potential problem, opportunity, or issue
- What you actually accomplished
- What you did about it
- The measurement of resultant benefit to the organization
Types of accomplishments:
- Reduced costs, processing errors (resulting in increased quality, sales, etc.).
- Planned a program.
- Advocated legal rights at a domestic violence shelter by accompanying victims at their cases.
- Helped to create and implement various programs to teach those between the ages of 13 and 80 to canoe, windsurf, and sail.
Examples of accomplishment statements:
- Initiated advanced assembly procedures to increase production 10% by reducing turn around time from 5 to 4 days.
- Planned and scheduled over twenty tours per week, organized and conducted monthly meetings for over twenty tour guides.
- Trained new employees in customer service and telephone procedures.
- Administered campus tours and served on informative panels for prospective students for the past three years.
Tips on Writing a “Scannable” Resume
Today, more and more companies are starting to electronically scan resumes to maximize efficiency in their search for new employees. A scannable resume maximizes the computer’s ability to read your resume. It maximizes your ability to get “hits.” (A hit is when one of your skills matches the computer search).
The following are tips that will help you make your resume more easily scannable:
- Use San Serif fonts. These are fonts that do not have little diagonal slash marks at the end of horizontal lines to make the letters fancy. The following fonts are best to use: Times, Arial, Palatino, Helvetica, Futura, Optima, New Century Schoolbook, Bookman, and Courier.
- Font sizes should be between 11-14 points.
- Avoid italics, script, and underlining words.
- Avoid any graphics and shading.
- Do not compress your resume to make it fit one one page. More white space means a scannable resume.
- Use horizontal and vertical lines sparingly. It is best to avoid them entirely, but if you do choose to include a line, make sure there is plenty of room on either side.
- NEVER use a dot-matrix printer. Use an ink jet or laser printer to ensure a good quality print job.
- Always send originals, even for degree titles. When in doubt, write it out.
- Do use industry jargon and abbreviations (like MIS for Management Information Systems) whenever possible. Scanners are programmed to search for key words on a resume, so try to use as many as possible.
- Use light colored (white or ivory) 8.5 x 11 paper. Print on one side only!
- Your name should stand alone on the first line of your resume. Put your address below your name, not next to it or above it.
- Explain any unfamiliar job titles.
- No staples!
- Do not fold your resume. Send it in a large envelope (make sure it has enough postage).