Posts Tagged ‘resume advice’
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
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.