Curriculum Vitae are personal marketing tools which list personal, academic and professional skills, qualifications and achievements. Your CV conveys your professional potential to the company you are interested in; it should therefore be tailored for each new target.
Writing Your CV
The average recruiter spends 20-30 seconds looking at a CV. It must therefore be concise, unambiguous and visually appealing. Each word should add clarity and substance, while maintaining a careful balance between text and blank spaces.
Your CV should be tailored for the industry, and even the company, you are targeting.
- The content, order and format will be determined by the employer`s priorities, your own career to date and your objectives.
- Skills and achievements must be specific, measurable, action-oriented, and time-based. Use action verbs and provide tangible supporting information. Don`t spend time emphasising skills you have already proven: stress other skills instead.
- Use standard grammar and syntax; avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations.
- If your CV is more than one-page long, save the most important information for the first page. Remember to put your name and a page number at the top of following pages.
- Ask a career placement counsellor or your mentor to review your CV.
- And, most importantly, check spelling and be consistent in the layout.
Mistakes can have serious consequences.
A traditional CV will include the following sections:
- Identity : name, address, phone number, email address, age, marital status (optional), nationality, national service obligations (for men), and visa / work permit where applicable.
- Objectives (optional): a brief description of your job search focus and professional goals. Don`t be too specific if you want to keep your options open.
- Work Experience : for each job, give the position title, company name and location, start and end dates, and a short, specific description of tasks and responsibilities. If the company is not well known, briefly describe the business sector, turnover, number of employees, etc.
- Education : indicate qualification/degree title, university name and location, starting date and graduation date (actual or anticipated, if it is more than two semesters away). Mention high GPAs and academic awards. Highlight any coursework or research that is relevant to your objective.
- Personal : linguistic abilities, special skills, hobbies, sports, travel, etc.
Format and layout
You can choose from three conventional CV formats depending on your experience, your objectives, and the employer`s requirements: chronological, functional, and combined. Make sure that the layout you choose can be scanned.
- Chronological : highlights a stable job history and consistent career path. Jobs and academic degrees are listed in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. Describe duties and accomplishments in some detail. Use bold characters for academic institutions, company names and job titles.
- Functional : This format is recommended when changing career direction or re-entering the job market. It stresses skills and accomplishments achieved through study, coursework and professional experience. Gaps in study/career and lack of experience can be disguised by mentioning freelance work or temporary assignments.
- Combined : This format is useful when you want to strategically promote transferable skills, or change careers. It combines elements of the chronological and functional CVs and includes brief work and academic summaries.
- Scannable : This format ensures that your CV can be read by Optical Character Recognition software. Because employers use databases to perform key word searches, your CV needs to build around key words rather than sentences. Don`t forget to:
- Write your name at the top of every page;
- Avoid italics, hollowed bullet points, shading, underlining and other visual tricks, which cannot be read by computers;
- Use ample white space to separate sections instead. Embolden or capitalise to highlight information;
- Choose a standard 10-14 point font with clearly legible characters such as Times, Palatino or Helvetica;
- Use white or light coloured paper;
- Do not fold or staple