How to Write a Curriculum Vitae and Résumé

Your curriculum and résumé are the two most demanded tools when looking for employment.

They are essentially marketing documents that people who are unemployed use to showcase their professional skills. They are documents for communication and are therefore based on what we want to communicate and to whom.

How to Write a CV

There is no ideal standard for a CV, since employers are always looking for different profiles. (For example, if a young person is looking for their first job and they already have experience relevant to the job, aside from the most essential personal information and relevant educational milestones, they should start with this experience.) The general conditions to meet are:

  • Have a clear and simple design. Having formal organisation, accurate categories and selecting the fundamental information all play an important role in how the CV will be received. It is therefore good to show, on the one hand, that we are capable of selecting the important information from our lives, and on the other hand, that we can present the information clearly and neatly so that the person reading it can find what they are looking for quickly. Being careless when selecting and presenting information is often interpreted as lack of interest in the position.
  • Be brief and clear. Provide clear guidelines for your potential employer. Chronological CVs should make sure that there are no big gaps on the page where the information is not justified.
  • Ensure internal and external coherence. Apart from academic and professional history, CVs reflect many aspects about our knowledge and personality.
  • Demonstrate the ability to provide a relevant and impressive overview. Clearly present facts or situations with a level of objectivity and responsibility, always ensuring it is easy to read.
  • It should be professionally attractive. Present skills that were acquired professionally in paid jobs, or if this is not possible, the skills and achievements learnt through other means. Do not forget that employers want their employees to be productive; to not need excessively long training, and to not take up human resource’s time unnecessarily. This is why it is important to present all the professional skills and competencies that we possess.
  • When sending a CV via email, it should be attached as a file, since this ensures that the format is retained (if the information is in the body of the email it might become messy), and it allows the person who is reading it to make copies if necessary.
  • The résumé is considered a reflection of the candidate’s interest, so it is also important to attach one that is relevant alongside the CV, keeping it short and making sure that it explains our personal objective.

Evaluating a CV

Before sending off our CV, it is essential that we address the following three steps, which help check what might be missing, what might be superfluous and what might require more detail.

Check

  • At first glance, does it look impeccable, clear and ordered? Are the titles clear and the paragraphs separated? If you are printing it, is the paper good quality?
  • Are the separate sections clearly divided?
  • Is the orthography and syntax correct? Are there typos?
  • Is the font easy to read? Does the general appearance of the CV awaken interest and curiosity and give a sense of professionalism?
  • Are the sentences short and the words simple and correct?
  • Is the meaning of all of the symbols and abbreviations explained?
  • Have you been careful to not use “etc.”?
  • Are all of the dates written in the same format?
  • Does the CV include your telephone number?
  • Is all of the information true?
  • Have you omitted all information that could be interpreted negatively?
  • Is all of the information supported by the relevant data?
  • Have you mentioned all of the relevant activities you have done outside of work? Do they highlight your personal qualities?
  • Does the CV come with a résumé?
  • If you are using a photograph, is it recent and good quality?
  • Is the CV geared towards what the company is looking for?

Avoid

  • Crossing out and leaving visible amendments.
  • Abusing adjectives.
  • Writing it by hand, unless expressly asked to do so.
  • Mentioning what may make you look bad.
  • Including intimate information and personal problems.
  • Reflecting excessive modesty.
  • Attaching photocopies of accrediting documents.

Remember

  • Provide methods of contact.
  • If the CV is printed and it exceeds one page, always use a paperclip and never a staple.
  • Do not sign the CV. Signing should be left for the résumé.

Online tools for automatically generating a CV

There are some great tools on the internet that help you create your CV. You just have to choose a template and then fill in the information.

We recommend:

How to Write a Résumé

The main objective of a résumé is twofold: It intends to arouse the interest of the person receiving it, and it intends to emphasise the relevant information in the CV and adapt it to the position.

Résumés should be just as important as CVs, since they show that the candidate has a particular interest in the company and the job they are applying for. It proves the ability to communicate and it is an opportunity to let the personality shine through.

Résumés should be used when answering to one of two functions:

  1. When responding to a job offer that has been published publicly.
  2. When applying spontaneously to a candidacy.

Some recommendations for writing letters are:

  • Make sure it is personalised and directed to a concrete person; when possible, avoid sending a nonspecific email to a generic email address. Find out who you should be sending your application to.
  • Write it in first person and keep it polite and formal. It should be short and direct (no more than a page long), cordial and respectful. Usually résumés are written on a computer unless otherwise specified.
  • Avoid obsequiousness and negative phrases like pleas and allusions to personal situations. Always be positive and speak about what you can do and how you can benefit and be useful to the company.
  • Mind your presentation:
    • Do not commit orthographical errors, and, if writing it by hand, do not cross out, rub out or write it wonkily. It is always worth starting again if you make a mistake.
    • Make sure it does not exceed one A4 page.
    • Leave enough space between paragraphs and make sure they are not too long (5 or 6 lines is a good length).
    • Use standard margins, which are usually around between 2cm and 3cm on either side.
    • Distribute the different sections harmonically.
  • When responding to published job offers, remember to include the key or code that appears on the advert, if there is one.
  • Always sign it.
  • Do not staple it to the CV.

General Résumé Format

  • Letterhead of the sender: This can be on either side of the top of the page or in the middle. It should contain: name, surname, address, telephone and email address.
  • Date of letter: This is usually at the top right, never in the centre. For example: London, 16th of January, 2018.
  • Recipient: The name of the recipient (the hiring or recruiting manager) should be preceded by a title: Mr, Mrs, Dr, etc. Also include the full address of the recipient and the name of the company in capital letters.
  • Opening: The usual opening is “Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr/etc.,” followed by their full name. If you did not know their name and there is no way of knowing, even with a bit of research online, there are alternatives. Traditionally people used to write “To whom it may concern,” but this is now seen as too general and anonymous, as it is not personalised. Always try to address it to someone or somewhere. If you do not know any names, address it to the relevant department.
  • First paragraph: This should aim to grab the attention of the reader and/or should refer to the offer and position.
  • Second paragraph: Introduction/presentation and/or a summary of your strengths.
  • Third paragraph: Organise a meeting and/or show interest in participating in the selection process.
  • Sign-off: Use standard forms, and keep it simple and correct. Examples: Best regards; Kind regards; All the best; I look forward to hearing from you soon; Sincerely.
  • Signature and name.

It is true that nowadays there are always new tips and tricks for writing CVs and résumés, but ultimately the goal is to make a great first impression on the company (whether the CV is a video, an App, etc.). We would love to know your opinions about all of the new trends in the field and whether you think they work or not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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