Posts Tagged ‘CV Resume Writing Tips’
Findability Factors for your CV
You have heeded all the advice on CV content and format. You have uploaded your CV to the top job boards. You are waiting to be found.
Increase the chances that your CV will be found by recruiters looking for your skills and experience by learning about how online job sites function and what you can do to increase your chances of being called for an interview.
The recruiter will search for a candidate by entering key words and phrases into the search engine. Be sure that you have included many of the important words and phrases that appear in the target job advertisement and in other job advertisements for the same type of job. Include words and their synonyms that are relevant to your experience and achievements, as well as well-known industry-specific jargon or terminology.
This is a time-intensive endeavor, but if enough of their search words match those found in your CV, your CV will be flagged for further investigation, and if you are truly qualified, then you will be called for an interview.
If all these key words and phrases do not fit conveniently on two A4 sheets, do not despair. Online submissions will rarely be printed, so a wordier version of your CV could be appropriate. Check the word or character limits prior to submission and work with the limits to submit the information that the recruiter needs in order to find you.
CV File Type
Consider creating a CV especially for online submission – not just in terms of content, but also in terms of file type. A plain text file (.txt) that is clearly formatted with appropriate section titles, such as Summary, Experience, and Education, will be parsed more successfully when the recruiter retrieves it during a search.
The stereotypical recruiter giving a 30-second eyeball to your CV as an A4 sheet of paper, or even as a Word document, is becoming a rarity. As technologies improve , it is becoming more important that your electronic content (CV) ranks high in the recruiter’s search.
Transform your North American résumé into a UK-style CV
Back in 1887, the British writer, Oscar Wilde wrote … “we have really everything in common with America these days, except, of course, language.”
It is still true today so if you want the information in your résumé to be instantly understood and appreciated by a potential employer in Britain, you will want to make a few changes.
Whether your résumé is formatted using the reverse chronological, the functional, or the combination style, this is fine. Check three things, however – be sure that your contact details show your telephone number as you would dial it from the UK – complete with country code – AND that your employment start & finish dates include months as well as years – AND finally, that you have explained all employment gaps that are longer than about 3 months.
Just as you would use your profession’s jargon and terminology in your résumé, you want to use language that puts you ‘in’ the job in the UK.
To edit the descriptions of your work experience, search the Internet for appropriate job vacancies in the UK and note the key words that are used to describe your target job. There may be other differences, so avoid clichés and idiomatic expressions that might not be well—known outside the US. Be sure that your achievements are written in a factual, not boastful, style. If you use the correct tone and expressions, you are demonstrating that you are a good organisational fit to a British firm.
There are several websites that compare UK English and North American English. Read through the words and see if any should be changed. For instance, did you use “specialty”? then, change it to “speciality” … “oriented?” – change it to orientated … “while” – change that to “whilst”. As well, note that “learnt and spelt” are spelt – and pronounced – with a “T” instead of “ED” in Britain.
A misspelt word on your CV could be disastrous! Your CV could end up in the bin – that’s the trash!
Although using US spelling consistently throughout your documents is not incorrect per se, the reader will expect to see UK spelling. Don’t let a potential employer stop and stumble on a word that appears to be “wrong.”
Start by changing Word’s language setting to UK English and doing a spell check. Be aware that some words – like the résumé standards – organise, strategise, and prioritise – are spelt with ‘ise’ in the UK and Word won’t flag them as misspelt if you’ve written “I- ZED-E”.
Zed means Zee, by the way.
Finally, change the paper size to A4; fix the tabs; proof it again; and submit it.
As Oscar inferred, there are many aspects of work, and life, that the British and the Americans do have in common! So, if you’re heading for the UK, transform your résumé into a CV, and discover them for yourself.
Resources: Audio Link
When you cannot use attachments or formatted documents, copy and paste the relevant sections of your Pro-CV PLAIN TEXT.txt file or your own .txt file (without line breaks) into your EMAIL ‘compose’ box.
If a job description asks you to include a plain text CV in the body of an email, make sure your email software is set to send plain text. Otherwise, your email browser will add formatting to your CV and the recruiter may assume you didn’t follow instructions.
The method for sending a plain-text email depends on the email program you’re using. Look for a “Plain Text” button or option and/or make sure the “Rich Text Editor” is off. Further information can usually be found in the “help” section of the program.
Here are instructions for some major email programs.
Choose “Compose Mail”. Click “plain text” option amongst the formatting options. Then, simply copy and paste your CV into the e-mail. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
* Yahoo! Mail:
Create a new e-mail. At the bottom of the email, click the “plain text” button. Then, simply copy and paste your CV into the e-mail. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
Create a new e-mail, in the pull-down field labelled “Tools” make sure the “Rich Text Editor” is off. You’ll be able to tell if you’ve successfully turned the Rich Text Editor off as all the formatting options will disappear from your compose screen. You may have to make some minor formatting changes.
* Windows Live Mail:
If you don’t see a menu, press ALT. Click Tools then Options. Click the Send tab. Next to Mail Sending Format, tick the option for Plain text. Click the Compose tab. Set the Compose Font for mail to 10 pt. Courier New. Click OK.
* Microsoft Outlook:
Create a new email, click on the “Format” button and choose the “Plain Text” option. Then, simply copy and paste your resume into the new email. You may have to make some minor changes, but most of your formatting should remain intact.
Before sending an email, read over all the contents of the compose box to ensure that you have copied and pasted the relevant sections. For instance, have you inadvertently included your references?
1. CVs are more important than ever in today’s competitive job market. What are the best ways for job seekers, particularly project managers, to grab the attention of HR/recruiters?
- HR managers and recruiters desperately want to find the right candidate as quickly as possible. You will grab their attention the moment they can find the information they need to validate a decision to interview you. Give it to them on a plate by presenting your relevant qualifications and experience near the beginning of your CV/résumé.
- One way to do this is to create a section called, “Professional Summary” or “Key Qualifications” or similar. Present your information relating to the job criteria in bullet point form and embolden the first few key words, if appropriate. Start with an action verb (e.g., Spearheaded the project …) and state the benefit(s) that your actions brought to the company (… that resulted in …).
- Under your name in your letterhead, include your relevant qualifications (e.g., B.Eng., PRINCE2).
- Instead of using the section heading “Profile,” use a positioning title. That is, use as the heading your most relevant job title and subtitle it with the relevant industry in which you have experience. For instance, Project Manager – Oil & Gas Industry.
- Present information about your projects in a uniform way. For instance, Challenge: … Actions: … Results: … or Project: … Activities: … Results: …
2. What are the biggest mistakes that people make when writing their CV/resume? How can they avoid these mishaps?
- There is a fine line between arrogant boasting, succinctly explaining the value you offer, and humbly describing your job duties. It is important to tread the middle road. Honestly, but descriptively, tell the reader about your accomplishments.
- Ensure that you have addressed as much of the job criteria as possible. Do this as early as possible in the document.
- Do not include irrelevant details or out-of-date qualifications.
3. In terms of design, what are some creative approaches that project managers can take?
- Use a dark color from the target company’s logo in your section headers.
- If you want to include a list of skills, use bullet points in columns.
- Divide your document into two columns – allocate less than one-third for your section headings and at least two-thirds for your body text.
4. In terms of design, what are some mistakes people often make? What sorts of things are considered “over the top” e.g. too many colors, etc?
- Easy-to-scan is the most important design feature, so using all upper case letters, underlining, and more than two fonts can impede this. If you use two fonts, use one Serif and one Sans Serif.
- Never use WordArt or similar word processing design features. A project manager’s CV/résumé should be a professional-looking document, so one color (e.g., dark blue or a dark color from the target company’s logo) could be used for your name and section headings.
- Do not choose a font that is uncommon. If the recipient doesn’t have it, their computer could replace your wonderful font with an unsuitable font. Consider using the super-safe Times New Roman or Arial, or the semi-safe, but more interesting, options of Book Antiqua, Calisto MT, Californian FB, Cambria, Candara, Corbel, Garamond, Georgia, Goudy Old Style, Lucida Sans, or Palatino Linotype.
5. What advice do you have for print CVs versus online CVs?
- For international applications, be sure to use the correct paper size (8.5” X 11” for North America and A4 for the rest of the world) whether printed or electronic.
- Use good quality paper in either white or cream if a hard copy is required.
- Use a good quality laser printer if you are going to print your document.
- Do not use a font size smaller than 10 point Times New Roman.
- Give at least 2 cm or .75 inch for a margin.
- Never fold or staple a hard copy CV/résumé. Protect it with a board-backed envelop.
- Send a digital/electronic version in .doc or .pdf by email in addition to submitting a required paper copy.
- Electronic versions of your CV/résumé should conform to the instructions from the target company. That is, don’t upload a .pdf or a .docx file when they ask for a .doc.
- Don’t copy and paste your Word document into online forms because they are unlikely to support formatting features, such as bullet points. Save the Word file as .txt, fix the formatting problems, and then copy and paste from the .txt file.
6. When should project managers seek professional help? Is this really a job for a professional CV writer?
- If you feel that your CV or résumé does not compare favorably to other CVs/résumés – your colleagues’ documents or examples on the Internet.
- If you are qualified for the job and your CV or résumé is not generating interviews, it is time to seek help.
- If you are not fully qualified for the job and you want the best chance of getting an interview.
- There are plenty of very good CV/résumé writing books if you want to take the time to read them and apply their advice. I would recommend Expert Résumés for Managers and Executives by Wendy S. Enelow and Louise M. Kursmark.
7. Any additional CV tips?
- Always tell the truth.
- At an interview, you will be asked to elaborate on information contained in your CV/résumé. If you don’t want to discuss it, try not to include any aspect of it in your CV/résumé.
- There is no need to include your references or the statement, “References available upon request. It is understood that you will give references upon request.
- Do not include personal information (e.g., age). Include work permit status if there is an issue with permission to work in the country.
- Do not include interests/hobbies unless they are highly relevant (e.g., you lack paid employment project management experience, but have experience as a volunteer).
Thanks to Denene Brox for these questions. Parts of this post were quoted in Denene’s article, Top of the Stack / Build the right resume and they will call, which was published in the August 2010 issue of PM Network (Project Management Institute).
Writing and Organisation:
Your CV not only presents your qualifications and work history, it also demonstrates the quality of work that you produce. Your CV tells the prospective employer a number of things about your decision-making, organisational, and communication skills. This is an opportunity to impress them with your ability to provide them with a professional document.
You are just a name on a page until you add a personal touch with a lively and captivating summary of your best qualities. Your personality shines through and the reader wants to learn more about you.
There is no set rule as to what headings should be used. However, they should be instantly recognisable and lead the reader to the information they seek.
If it is not possible to quickly find specific information, the reader may not bother. A CV that is well laid out and presented will enable the reader to retrieve the maximum amount of information in the 20-30 seconds they have allotted for the task.
Business etiquette dictates that a focused cover letter accompanies the CV or application form. It is expected. The job hunter who does not write a cover letter is seen to be a person who either cannot be bothered or does not know any better.
The reader only wants to know specific information. What information is presented and what is left out is the CV writer’s job. Too little information and the reader is left with the impression that the candidate is unqualified. Too much information and the reader could get bored and not even get to the important parts. If all the information you need to convey can be attractively presented on one page, then one page is all you need. A two-page CV allows for more detail. The first page grabs the reader’s attention with crucial information, and the second page enhances and confirms that information. When the number of candidates for a position will be very low, (e.g., upper level executives in highly specialised fields), more than two pages may be required.
Grammar and Spelling:
Even if perfect grammar and spelling are not necessary for the job, mistakes look sloppy and show that you do not care about details. Careful proofreading will catch these errors. If you are unsure, try WhiteSmoke software.
Photocopies are old fashioned and usually of inferior quality. Photocopying or any poor printing says, “This document has been sent as a mail shot – the writer is not serious enough about the job to be bothered to put the time and effort into applying specifically for this job.” Also, the original needs to be sharp because your CV may be photocopied and/or scanned for distribution within the company. For clarity and ease of reading, inkjet printing does not compare favourably to laser printing.
Paper Colour and Quality:
If a hard copy is appropriate, use 100 gsm weight paper, either white or ivory. Strongly coloured paper may stand out from the rest, but will not be practical. Some colours do not photocopy or scan very well. This makes it difficult for your CV to be circulated inside the company. Using inappropriate or poor quality paper will imply that your standard of work is also of poor quality.
When you present yourself for an interview, you make sure that you look your best. Your CV presentation should also be at its best. You can achieve this by including a couple of extras. Thermal binding and hard backed envelopes, coupled with your well-written and well-designed CV, demonstrates your enthusiasm and above-average interest in the position available. Bring a list of your referees presented on a reference sheet that matches your CV. Info about referees.
CV Writing Tips
Your CV may only get a 10-second glance during the initial screening stage – so make it count!
Here are some tips on how to write a CV that will take you through to the interview stage.
Where to start
Gather your information
- Gather all the documentation that you have about your work history and education.
- Organise your information by creating a Word document or by downloading an Information Gathering Worksheet or the full Pro-CV Pack.
- Identify the key requirements of your target job(s). Read and analyse advertisements, job specifications, or other information about your target job(s). Jot down the jargon and buzz words/phrases that are used. Note the job titles and corresponding key criteria for each type of position.
- For each key criterion, write down the way(s) in which you qualify – through work, study, or outside-of-work activities.
- Write a rough draft of your work history and education. Include dates, job titles, company names, your day-to-day responsibilities, and your achievements. Elaborate on the achievements that relate to the target job’s key criteria.
- Don’t think you have any achievements? Ask yourself if you were given enhanced responsibilities, worked late or covered shifts (beyond the call of duty), got on well with your colleagues, mentored a new employee, and/or solved escalated problems for colleagues or supervisors. Are you always punctual or consistently accurate? These are all achievements!
- Use the design and formatting tips below to edit and add to this draft.
- Create your a document and save it as .doc or .rtf. The file extension .docx is not universal yet, so if you are using Word 2007, save your document as Word 97-2003. When you have a final version of your CV, you should also create a copy of your document in plain text (.txt file) for copying and pasting into emails and online forms. An Adobe .pdf version is also handy for printing. If you do not have the software to create .pdf documents, you can use an online service.
Design & Layout
- Even if you are a word processing expert, be frugal with the use of lines, colours, borders, shading, ornate bullets, and unusual fonts when designing a CV for electronic submission. Do not put crucial information, such as your name and contact information, in headers, footers, tables, and text boxes. This is because you cannot be sure that the software used to view the CV will display the information within these features. Use an uncluttered layout with clearly titled sections to ensure that your CV will be scanned into databases properly.
- Use section headings in a larger font size than the body text so that the reader can find the information they need quickly.
- Use bullet points to emphasise the action verbs and key words that match the job criteria.
- A 2-page CV is long enough for most occupations. At least 1/3 of the second page should be filled.
- Longer CVs are appropriate for some occupations, such as senior executives, and are usually required for consultants, medical doctors, and academics.
- Clear and concise content is more important than length, so your CV should be as long as needed to present your relevant experience and qualifications for the position.
Sections of a CV
- At the top of the CV, place your name, postal address, telephone number (your mobile or landline), and your email address. Your email address for job hunting should be professional-sounding, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Profile / Summary of Qualifications
- Consider naming this section with a job title that reflects your experience and your target job(s). For example, “Sales Manager – Food & Beverage Sector.”
- The profile statement is a short summary of your experience, qualifications, and personality. It should contain some key criteria, such as number of years of experience and at what level; breadth of experience; and related achievements. It should showcase the value you offer by highlighting your strengths and abilities.
- Inject some of your personality here. Use this space to show how or why you are helpful, flexible, accurate, patient, or other attributes that are relevant to the target job.
- This synopsis at the beginning of your CV is particularly important today because many documents are reviewed on a Blackberry and the page may not be viewed as a whole. It also allows you to move key words into the first 250 words, which can be important if your CV is entered into certain databases or appears in a search engine.
Key Skills / Key Competences / Career Highlights / Selected Achievements
- Augment your profile with a list displayed in a one-, two-, or three-column style. They should address the target job’s key criteria. Use this section to bring forward skills acquired, or achievements realised, at various times in your career.
Experience / Employment History
- The work experience section discusses your day-to-day responsibilities, with emphasis on skills and achievements that are transferable to your target job. Points should include why you were hired, what challenges you faced, and most importantly, the accomplishments you achieved while working for each employer.
- Your work history should be listed in reverse chronological order. That is, start with your most recent job. Use months and years to indicate start and finish dates and include the name of the company (with a short description, if required). Use a bold and/or uppercase font for your job title if it is related to your target job. If you are changing careers, do not emphasise the job title.
- Write an introductory paragraph (up to five lines) for each experience. Briefly, tell the reader what you were hired to do and/or what you actually do or did. Include an overview of the challenges you faced and your sphere of influence, such as the number of staff you supervise.
- Follow with bullet points detailing how well you actually did the job. Start each bullet with an action verb and then explain the situation or challenge. Describe your action(s) and illustrate the results and/or benefits of those actions. Qualify or quantify these accomplishments, whenever possible.
- Write more about your most recent and relevant work experience and less about your past experiences. The past 10 to 15 years of experience is of most interest to potential employers and earlier experience may be excluded or stated briefly. For IT positions in fast-changing environments, it is only necessary to give detailed information about your past five years of experience.
- If you are a recent graduate, or if your qualifications are more relevant than your work experience, place your education section ahead of your work experience and include your grades. Include the name of the institution(s) you attended, as well as start/finish years, the course(s) that you took, and the qualification(s) that you attained. Add your extra-curricular activities if they are relevant and/or if you have little or no work experience.
- If you have at least a few years of relevant work experience, provide only a brief summary of your degree(s), diploma(s), or certificate(s). Include the name of the institution(s) you attended with start/finish years and the qualification(s) that you attained. Include the course(s) that you took only if highly relevant.
- If you have some work experience and a university degree (tertiary education), there is usually no need to include your secondary school education. There is never any need to include primary school education, no matter how prestigious the school.
- Interests and hobbies are rarely required on a CV. However, if your activities or pursuits show a side of you that is relevant to the target job, such as leadership, industry knowledge, or communication/interpersonal skills, then mention them briefly if these points cannot be covered elsewhere in your CV. If you choose to include your interests, write about them in terms of the skills you used or developed. Never mention vague activities like reading, cinema-going, and socialising. Do not include activities in which you no longer participate.
- If IT/computing skills are a job requirement, detail them in terms of the programs used (and for what purpose, if required), your level of competency, and frequency of use. If not a specific job requirement, mention potentially relevant programs in which you are competent in order to demonstrate your computer literacy.
- Other information, such as your driving licence, affiliations/memberships in professional organisations, volunteer work, and non-professional awards can be mentioned if they are relevant to the target job.
- Indicate your knowledge of foreign languages if you would be comfortable using the language at work, such as speaking on the phone or writing an email. If the language is a job criterion, detail your level of competency in both the spoken and written forms.
What not to include
- It is not necessary to state that “References are available upon request” at the bottom of your CV because you have no choice – you must present your references upon request.
- Although references are not usually submitted along with a CV, a separate reference sheet is an important element of your job seeking portfolio. For each referee, include their full name, job title and company name (if applicable), postal address, telephone number, and email address.
- Enhance your reference sheet by adding a short paragraph below each entry that tells the reader what the referee will be able to say about you. For example, you could use a quote from your appraisal.
- Prepare your referees for the job of giving you a good reference. Give them a copy of your CV and target job information. Let them know in writing how and why you are qualified. For instance, remind them about how you demonstrated certain skills and about what you achieved when you worked for or with them. Be sure that they are willing to be a referee and that they are interested in helping you realise your career goals.
- Download a worksheet and a template. Further reading is on the Update Your References page.
Too Personal Information
- Nationality, citizenship, and/or your residency status are generally not required, but can be in some circumstances. For instance, if you are applying for jobs in the European Union, include your eligibility to work if you haven’t got most of their education and experience in the EU. You may find that recruiters/potential employers will ask about your eligibility to work. Also, you will notice that many on-line application forms won’t let you get past that question. If you do need a work permit, don’t mention it here.
- Marital and family status and/or information about your spouse/partner and children should not be part of your job seeking documentation. One of the few exceptions is a job at a boarding school at which your children’s places would be included in the job benefits.
- Health and age information should not be included, however, if physical fitness is required for the job, you could allude to this in the “Work Experience” or “Interests” section.
- Minor qualifications, especially those relating to your personal life (e.g., sports) and those that are not relevant to the target job, should not be included because they distract from your focus on the target job.
- References should be presented on your CV or resume, but should be presented when you are specifically asked to supply them. Wait to be asked.
- Salary history information should not be in your CV or resume unless you are specifically asked to supply it. If you are, include it as requested, but also include an explanation in your cover letter. For instance, “My salary requirements are negotiable because I am far more interested in challenge and potential for career development. However, in my previous three positions, my salary ranged from £40k to £50k.”