Designing a Curriculum Vitae or Resume

A resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a summary of your career history, the skills and experiences you have gained during the course of it.

A good Resume should:

  • Attract attention
  • Create a positive impression
  • Present your relevant skills and qualities clearly and concisely

The purpose of the resume is to convey to an employer why you should be hired. Consider it as your personal marketing instrument. A good resume will help you to open the door to an interview.

There are two kinds of resumes: employment and academic. The employment resume is shorter and if we add some other sections to it we get an academic resume. The added sections are the following:

  1. Conferences, seminars attended.
  2. Papers given.
  3. Publications.
  4. Professional affiliation.

The academic resume is used when you apply to research bodies, international or educational organizations, NGOs and the like/

The resume, as a standard summary of information can be photocopied and sent off to many employers. Sections of the content can be changed according to different needs of organizations approached.

Resume Writing Tips

As you write your resume, keep in mind the following:

  1. Use concise language
  2. Minimize or omit anything that is irrelevant.
  3. Select and order the major categories so that the most relevant information is placed near the top of your resume where it will receive the majority of the reader’s attention.
  4. Your resume must be free of typographical and grammatical errors.
  5. Have your resume critiqued by an experienced person.
  6. Print your resume on 100 GSM weight white or cream color A4 size paper with some cotton content. Purchase extra paper (for cover and thank you letters) and matching envelopes.
  7. Never mail a resume without a cover letter.
  8. Many companies are now using electronic resume scanners. You can make you resume “scanner friendly” by:
    • avoiding italics, script, underlining, and horizontal or vertical lines;
    • using standard typefaces such as New Times Roman;
    • avoiding staples and folds.

Sections

Contact Information

  1. Your name and contact information belong at the very top of the resume.
  2. Your name should stand out. Make it 2 font sizes larger than everything else. For example, if you are using 12 point font size for your resume (which is preferred) do your name in the 14 point font size. You can also use all upper case letters and/ or boldface type for your name.
  3. You may include more than one address if you have a temporary (school) address and a permanent one. Include an email address if you have one.
  4. Below or next to your home address, include your home telephone number. Include your work telephone number only if receiving a telephone call from a potential employer will not be a problem.

The Career Objective

  1. The career objective is a brief statement of one or two sentences. This statement can be challenging to write and should be given a lot of thought. You need to be careful not to be to specific which can limit the use of the resume. However, if you are too vague the objective will be meaningless. The objective must convey a sense of direction.
  2. Avoid jargon or cliché such as “challenging rewarding career”, growth oriented firm, or “to work with people”. The objective should explain what you can do for the company not what the company can do for you.
  3. If you are having problems writing a good objective, it may be because you don’t know enough about the field you wish to enter or you don’t know enough about yourself to decide what field is right for you. If you are struggling to determine what you objective should be you need to stop writing you resume and focus on career planning.

Summary

This section, which can alternatively be called “Summary”, “Profile” or “Professional Highlights”, is an optional section used to highlight you most important skills and credentials. The summary is particularly advantageous for individuals who want to emphasize achievements that date back a while and therefor might get buried toward the end of the resume.

Two to five brief but powerful sentences will be sufficient.

Education

  1. List degrees in reverse chronological order — most recent degree first.
  2. The education section need no be restricted to formal degree programs. For example, certificates, minors, or other special educational programs and workshops can be shown. An honors program or foreign study program could be entered into this section.
  3. Many students may want to include a list of important courses as a subdivision of the education section. Significant courses related to a career goal which would not typically be associated with your major would be appropriate. For you may want to list such course work since it is likely to distinguish you from others with you degree. Listing course work may also be a useful way for career changers to emphasize their new skills.
  4. If you have financed your education through part time or full time work, scholarships, personal savings or summer job, you may want to make a statement to that effect.
  5. The educational section can be placed either before or after the experienced section. However, if you are currently employed in a position where your responsibilities are similar to the job you are seeking, you may want to consider placing the experience section first.

Honors and Awards

If you have three or more honors/awards, make it a separate category. Otherwise you may omit this category and list your honors under education.

Experience

  1. One of the most critical parts of your resume is the description of your job experiences. Employers want to know something about the tasks and duties you performed. You should convey this information in such a way that it indicates you are an outstanding performer. The way to do this is by writing accomplishment statements
  2. To write accomplishment statements use the action verbs to start phrases or sentences describing your performance. Present a picture of yourself as taking initiative, being creative and being a leader and innovator. Keep in mind that you want to convince the reader that you are able to excel, not just meet the minimum requirements.
  3. Try to quantify your accomplishments where possible. Use percentages and other statistical measurements.
  4. Experience does not necessarily have to be full time paid employment. You may include internships, summer positions or significant volunteer experiences. Sometimes it is appropriate to have more than one experience section. For experiences that are directly related to your career goal you could have a section called “Professional Experience”. Other less related work could be placed in a section labeled “Work Experience”
  5. Write this section in reverse chronological order. Each entry should include position title, organization, city, state, and dates

Activities/Professional Affiliations/ Memberships

  1. This is an optional category which you can label in a variety of ways Civic activities should be included here as well as membership in professional organizations. Be certain to provide an ample description or title of the organization you were involved with Leadership positions or other responsibilities should be shown in conjunction with the activity
  2. When religious activities or political functions are included, it is recommended that specific denominations or parties not be shown to reduce potential bias. Sometimes it is best to leave these activities off altogether
  3. Within this section it is optional to include interesting life experiences. Even though they may have little direct relationship to career goal, they are sometimes included to provide a personal touch
  4. Such entries might include international travel (specific countries), licensed private pilot, or accomplished musician (specific instrument). When noting interests, some judgement is necessary.
  5. List only avid interests that you could easily discuss if asked about during the interview.

Skills

A skills section is useful if you have skills or experiences that are not obvious from the other sections on your resume. Most commonly, this section is used to highlight language, computer, and other technical skills.

References

  1. Traditionally, the last line of a resume will indicate that references are available. This is an optional statement, however. It is okay to omit if space is lacking.
  2. Never state the names and contact information of your referees on your resume. This information should by typed on a separate page and brought with you to the interview.
  3. Be sure to ask permission before using anyone as a referee. Give your referees a copy of your resume and notify them if and when they might be contacted.