How many people know exactly what a curriculum vitae is? How many people know the differences between a curriculum and a résumé? For sure we are familiar with this terminology, but we may miss some important points that could help our career. Nowadays you must possess a neat curriculum or résumé to get the job you love. The purpose of this article is to guide you through the process of composing a curriculum following a few simple and clear steps.
1. Choose What Fits You Best: CV or Résumé?
A curriculum vitae (or CV, Latin for “course of life”) has these characteristics:
- Variable length depending on the necessity (up to 2 or more pages)
- Focuses on education and academic background of a specific area
- Aims at demonstrating one's qualifications
A résumé (French for “summary”) is different:
- Short length
- General but complete summary of education and professional experiences
- Aims at getting employment or job interview
2. Set Up the General Features
- Font: any font that looks professional (e.g. Times New Roman)
- Font size: 12
- Line-spacing: 1.15
- Margins: 1”
- Single sided on white paper
- No underlining
- No different fonts: size will change depending on the hierarchy of lines; bold and CAPS will help you highlight something
- Number pages and type your full name on every page. Normally the résumé is a one-page paper, so you should omit the number and your full name at the bottom of the page.
3. Don't Forget the 5 “Musts” of a CV
- Well-organized and logical
- Concise and brief (in case it's a résumé)
- Up to date
- Professional appearance: do not mix styles or fonts
4. Divide it into Sections
Dividing a CV into sections helps the reader have a clear idea of what he is reading. Though you could write your autobiography, here you have to outline your beautiful life experiences. Schematising is helped by dividing the whole paper into sections. Some sections must always be present, whereas some others can be omitted. The underlying list should be followed in the suggested order. The starred sections are mandatory.
Full name, mailing address, email address, phone number(s).
Degrees and certifications that are relevant. Insert the title of your thesis. Most recent is first on the list.
- Honors and Awards
Honors and awards received, including scholarships. Do not add descriptions.
- Professional Experience*
Most recent goes first. Include employer's name and job position. Do not add redundant descriptions.
In case you have published any books or articles during your academic career.
- Volunteer Experience*
Normally, at US or UK schools, pupils contribute to local volunteer associations.
List interests and hobbies that are real and at the same time active. Positive adjectives and qualities are preferable, of course. You may insert some quality that makes you special.
- Certifications and Licensure
In case you have any area-specific certificates or licenses.
- Professional Activities or Research
Academic or professional relevant experience.
- Added Qualifications* (mainly language and IT skills)
Make sure you list the languages you know and your exact level (elementary, discrete, good, excellent, fluent, native speaker). As for IT skills, list the most important tasks you can fulfill with a computer.
5. Pull a Cover Letter Alongside Your CV
A cover letter is a brief and concise letter addressed to your potential employer. You may think… Why isn't a CV enough for the employer? It surely helps him/her understand how many good qualifications you have. It provides information about your academic career. That is the way the employer understands if your studies and your experiences fit his or her necessities. But none of the following are included in the CV: your motivation, the passion for the job you're applying for, and the desire to do your best. That's why it is highly recommendable to write a cover letter expressing your motivation and capacity to be ready to work.
6. How to Write a Cover Letter
You will write your cover letter, dividing it into paragraphs. It is recommended to use Times New Roman and size 12. Make sure the writing is single-spaced. Every line must be aligned left, i.e. no justifying. Remember: use a formal language and never ever use short forms (don't, isn't, aren't…). The traditional format requires you to leave two spaces after each period. Follow the instructions while looking at the example provided here.
- Personal Information
Home address and date. Do not put your name.
- Addressee Information
Use this format:
First Name Middle Name Last Name, Position
- First Paragraph: Introduction
Use “Dear” followed by Mr, Ms or Mrs. Do not use periods after the titles (i.e. do not type Mr.). This first paragraph contains the information about how you found the job announcement. Express briefly your interest, using formulas like, “I am extremely interested in this job opportunity.”
- Second Paragraph: Body
This is where you show all your best qualities. Include your education, academic background, and highlight the most brilliant aspects of your career. Say what you are good at, how good you are at working in a group, collaborating with others. Do not forget to point out the values they are looking for! For instance, if you're applying for teaching in a language school, express your passion for cultures, languages, traditions, travelling… and anything related! If you have professional experience, make it stand out. If you don't, you can use a straightforward expression such as, “Although I have no work experience, I am a quick learner and can work with minimum supervision. I welcome the opportunity to prove myself.”
- Third Paragraph: Summary
Here, briefly state your will to work with the company and gently ask for an interview. You can directly personalize the paragraph of the sample letter: “If you believe I possess the qualities you are looking for, I would greatly appreciate an interview at your convenience. I can be reached at [phone #] every day of the week after [time]. If I am not available, please leave a message and I will return your call promptly. I also can be reached at my e-mail address: [email address].”
Say thanks and greet the addressee formally. Use neutral expressions like “Sincerely.”
Hopefully this article will be useful for the development of your career! For any further information, CV/cover letter samples, or corrections of your professional documents, do not hesitate to contact me!