Help for writing your CV
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD RESUME by Robert Half
The resume is a primary tool in finding a good job. When writing a resume, one should pay particular attention to its overall structure. There are several different guidelines that can help in doing this.
SELECT YOUR FORMAT
Selecting your resume format is a major strategic decision. Real and compelling differences characterize the two most common formats, which have impact on the receptivity employers have to your initiatives.
No universally "right" format is appropriate for all people. Your review of your own objective and background will be your most effective guide to selecting the best format for you.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL FORMAT
Your employment record is the primary organizing principle for this format, a job-by-job historical narrative of your work effectiveness.
This format accentuates your formal qualifications for the work you are seeking. Appropriate for directly qualified candidates with linear progression paths, it showcases the track record of clearly pertinent, often increasingly responsible experiences. Seasoned judgment in grappling with job challenges is emphasized.
Recruiters and some hiring managers are accustomed to, and often prefer, a traditional format. Many find it familiar, straightforward and easy to use when making preliminary decisions of inclusion and exclusion.
For candidates who are starting or changing a career, this format emphasizes the lack of direct, in-depth experience in the targeted career area. It underscores past identity rather than future potential.
Gaps in employment, conspicuously brief or long affiliations, and time periods elapsed since certain qualifying experiences are spotlighted.
Rather than accenting accomplishments on the job, it lends itself to a somewhat dry, repetitive recitation of job responsibilities.
Criteria for Use:
The chronological format is particularly effective for people with clear-cut qualifications, who are continuing or advancing in a particular career direction. It is acceptable for other, less overtly qualified people. This format can be productive if you cite relevant skills and tasks that support your objective within the job-by-job description.
THE FUNCTIONAL FORMAT
Your key skills, knowledge and related accomplishments are the primary organizing principles of this format, citing relevant examples of effectiveness as proof and prediction of your ability to contribute.
This format provides an opportunity to establish the transferability of skills and accomplishments for candidates who are starting or changing a career. Grouping these items in self-contained categories builds a case for your ability to function in a new situation. The conventional resume format dilutes or contradicts this talent.
Not limited to paid employment, you can give status to qualifying experience from every area of life. This format widens the scope of informal experiences supportive of your career objective, including special projects, internships, community service and relevant leisure pursuits. It eliminates distinctions that discount their importance.
For directly qualified candidates with a linear progression path, this format challenges the standard presentation of personal strengths. Executive recruiters and other employment professionals prefer a job-by-job description to trace with clarity exactly what has been done, for whom, where and when.
Some employers assume that this format hides background information of importance.
In a purely functional resume, key time/space anchors that employers expect are not given. This information can be essential to credibility.
Criteria for Use:
The functional format is particularly effective and highly recommended for people without direct experience in the area of their career objective. Since it accents skills and achievements, it is effective and often desired by people who are well established in a career.
THE COMBINATION FORMAT
The combination format recognizes the inherent drawbacks of both the chronological and functional formats used in their pure forms.
The pure chronological resume is too mundane, a bland work autobiography. It is descriptive, but tends not to be persuasive about personal qualifications.
The pure functional resume is too free-floating and reads like a set of assertions about abilities, unlinked to verifiable sources of confirmation.
Whether you prefer the chronological or functional format, the most effective resume blends the best elements of each.
The Chronological-Combination Resume:
This format retains the structure of a job-by-job delineation of experience and emphasizes accomplishments, the hallmark of the functional resume.
The Functional-Combination Resume:
This format retains the structure of key skills, knowledge and accomplishments, incorporating a distilled EXPERIENCE section, which denotes career-related time/space anchors, the hallmark of the chronological resume.
All References to Resumes in This Guide Assume a Combination Format:
Chronological-combination resumes and functional-combination resumes will be referred to simply as chronological and functional resumes.
After deciding on the appropriate format, the way to organize the information is equally as important. Below are some guidelines to assist you in creating the best resume.
CREATING A DARN GOOD RESUME
I. A DARN GOOD RESUME HAS FIVE ESSENTIAL PARTS:
A. A clearly stated JOB OBJECTIVE.
B. The HIGHLIGHTS OF QUALIFICATIONS.
C. A presentation of directly RELEVANT SKILLS and EXPERIENCE.
D. A chronological WORK HISTORY.
E. A listing of relevant EDUCATION and TRAINING.
II. GETTING STARTED
A. Work History - Create a "Work History Master List," keeping in mind that not everything on your "Master List" will necessarily appear on THIS version of your resume. For paid and volunteer jobs or positions, list the dates started and ended, your job title, and the name and city of the company or organization. Put these jobs in chronological order.
B. Education and Training - Create an "Education and Training Master List," this time including :
Schools you attended, with dates, degrees honors.
Personal study in your field (classes, workshops, and other informal ways you have learned).
Any other credentials or certificates.
C. Job Objective - Compose a clearly stated Job Objective, using a minimum number of words. Ask yourself these questions:
WHAT do I want to do?
FOR WHOM or WITH WHOM do I want to do it?
WHERE do I want to do it?
AT WHAT LEVEL OF RESPONSIBILITY?
D. Relevant Skills And Experience - What you want to create - contrary to everything you've heard in the past about resumes - is a word picture of you in your proposed new job, created out the best of your past experience. Steps include:
So first, get out your Job Objective and ask yourself what are the five or six major skills required for that job.
Get out a sheet of paper for each of those skills or special knowledge areas, and label each page.
Then ask yourself, "When did I use those same skills in the past?"
Under each of the skills listed, begin to write action-oriented "One- Liner" statements that clearly and concisely describe how you used or developed those skills in the past.
Then you can assemble the Relevant Skills and Experience section of your new-job resume by putting those five or six skills paragraphs together on one page.
E. The Highlights of Qualifications - The essential message of the highlights is two-fold:
First, that you are QUALIFIED - you have the experience, credentials, and basic skills needed for the job.
Second, that you are also ESPECIALLY TALENTED (perhaps even gifted) in the areas that really matter - in other words, for THIS job you're "hot".
A typical group of Highlights might include :
How much relevant experience you have.
What your formal training and credentials are, if relevant.
One significant accomplishment, very briefly stated..
One or two outstanding skills or abilities.
A reference to your values, commitment, or philosophy if appropriate.
III. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
A. Assemble the five parts of your resume - Job Objective, Highlights, Relevant Experience, Work History, Education - and type up a draft copy.
B. Omit anything personal and unrelated to your Job Objective (age, marital status, height/weight, hobbies).
C. Omit the details of less important past jobs that create an image you don't want to take with you.
D. Keep it to one page if you can.
E. If your resume is on two pages:
Present your "aces" on page one (job objective, skills, accomplishments).
Use page two for the work history and education.
Be sure to write "continued" on page one, and "page two" PLUS your full name on the second page.
Print it on two sheets of paper, and don't staple them together (the two pages can be placed side-by-side to view the whole resume at once).
PLEASE NOTE : For a more detailed account of constructing a resume according to the above process, consult the new edition of The Damn Good Resume Guide, by Yana Parker, (Ten Speed Press, 1989). Used by permission of the author.
There are still several important points to remember while writing your resume.
HOW TO WRITE A BETTER RESUME
Specialized Administrative Staffing
A good resume cannot get you a job; but a bad resume can prevent you from getting the interview - and without the interview there's no chance of getting the job.
The new rules for better resumes start with the fact that there are fewer rules. There's an opportunity for some creativity, but not for gimmicks. What works today is conservative style and a focus on a key achievements - especially those that are of particular interest to the reader.
Remember what interests an employer, for let's say an executive assistant position, may not interest the employer hiring a desktop publishing specialist. That's why it is essential that people who qualify for several different jobs (and most do) have several different resumes. All resumes should be accurate and truthful, but each should highlight different strengths as they relate to the job opening.
Better jobs have become more competitive than they were in the 70s and 80s. And they will continue to get more competitive in the 90s, as these better jobs require increased specialized skills.
Since the resume is a primary tool in finding a better job, extra time spent on its preparation is a good investment. In fact, some astute people constantly update their resumes, even though they may never use them to get another job. A reminder of your talents and accomplishments, a current resumes can provide you with clues to getting a better job in your present company or the ammunition to prove you deserve a salary increase.
We believe the best way to explain the new "rules" of resume writing is to explain what you should always do and also what you should never do.
We wish you success!
Always print your resume on standard letter size, white or ivory rag paper.
Always have the resume professionally typed, but not typeset, with plenty of space between paragraphs, and allow for adequate margins.
Always use conventional English. Stay away from multi-syllable words when a one or two syllable word is clearer.
Always use short paragraphs - preferably no longer than five lines.
Always make sure the resume and the cover letter are error-free. Proofread, and have others proofread to.
Always rewrite a resume for a specific company. It's extra work, but may well pay off.
Always include your significant contributions at each one of your jobs.
Always allow the most space to the jobs that are most relevant to the job you're applying for.
Always list your activity with professional, trade and civic associations - but only if they're appropriate.
Always keep a permanent file of your achievements, no matter how inconsequential they may appear to be. This is the basis for a good resume, and it is also essential information to get a raise or promotion.
Always give each of your references a copy of your resume.
Always send a brief, customized letter with each resume.
Always send your resume by messenger overnight mail if you're applying for a high salary level job and you're reasonably convinced you fit the job specifications.
Always re-read your resume before interview - chances are the interviewer did just that too.
Never give reasons for termination or leaving a job on the resume. In almost all cases, the reader can find negative connotations to even the best reason. You're far better off explaining it in person.
Never take more than two lines to list hobbies, sports and social activities. When in doubt, "leave them out".
Never state "References Available On Request". It's assumed, and clutters up the resume. Other things to leave out include your social security number, your spouse's occupation and your personal philosophies.
Never list references on the resume.
Never use exact dates. Months and years are sufficient.
Never include the date your resume was prepared. If your search takes longer than a few months, the resume will appear outdated.
Never include your company phone number unless your immediate boss is aware of your departure.
Never include your height, weight or remarks about your physical appearance or health.
Never list your high school or grammar school if you're a college graduate.
Never state your objectives on your resume unless the resume is targeted to that job or occupation.
Never use professional jargon unless you're sure the resume will be read by someone who understands the buzz-words,
Never use the so-called "action words" like sparked, accelerated, and streamlined. They're passe.
Never provide salary information on the resume. Save it for the interview. If you are required to give that information, reveal it in the cover letter.
This article was written by Robert Half
Top Ten Technical Resume Writing Tips
Common Resume Blunders
Make sure your resume is top-notch by avoiding the top 10 resume blunders:
1. Too Focused on Job Duties
Your resume should not be a boring listing of job duties and responsibilities. Go beyond showing what was required and demonstrate how you made a difference at each company, providing specific examples. When developing your achievements, ask yourself:
2. Flowery or General Objective Statement
Many candidates lose their readers in the beginning. Statements like "A challenging position enabling me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement" are overused, too general and waste valuable space. If you’re on a career track, replace the objective with a tagline stating what you do or your expertise.
3. Too Short or Too Long
Many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they've heard resumes shouldn’t be longer. By doing this, job seekers may delete impressive achievements. There are also candidates who ramble on about irrelevant or redundant experiences. There is no rule about appropriate resume length. When writing your resume, ask yourself, "Will this statement help me land an interview?" Every word should sell you, so only include information that elicits a "yes."
4. Using Personal Pronouns and Articles
A resume is a form of business communication, so it should be concise and written in a telegraphic style. There should be no mentions of "I" or "me," and only minimal use of articles. For example:
I developed a new product that added $2 million in sales and increased the market segment’s gross margin by 12 percent.
should be changed to:
Developed new product that added $2 million in sales and increased market segment’s gross margin by 12 percent.
5. Listing Irrelevant Information
Many people include their interests, but they should only include those relating to the job. For example, if a candidate is applying for a position as a ski instructor, he should list cross-country skiing as a hobby.
Personal information, such as date of birth, marital status, height and weight, normally should not be on the resume unless you’re an entertainment professional or a job seeker outside the US.
6. Using a Functional Resume When You Have a Good Career History
It is irksome for hiring managers not to see the career progression and the impact made at each position. Unless you have an emergency situation, such as virtually no work history or excessive job-hopping, avoid the functional format.
The modified chronological format is often the most effective. Here’s the basic layout:
7. Not Including a Summary Section that Makes an Initial Hard Sell
This is one of the job seeker’s greatest tools. Candidates who have done their homework will know the skills and competencies important to the position. The summary should demonstrate the skill level and experiences directly related to the position being sought.
To create a high-impact summary statement, peruse job openings to determine what’s important to employers. Next, write a list of your matching skills, experience and education. Incorporate these points into your summary.
8. Where Are the Keywords?
With so many companies using technology to store resumes, the only hope a job seeker has of being found is to include relevant keywords sprinkled throughout the resume. Determine keywords by reading job descriptions that interest you and include them in your resume.
9. References Available
Employers know you have professional references. Only use this statement to signal the end of a long resume or to round out the design.
One typo can land your resume in the garbage. Proofread and show your resume to several friends to have them proofread it as well. This document is a reflection of you and should be perfect.
by Brea Barthel and Amanda Goldrick-Jones
Resumes must do their work quickly. Employers or personnel officers may look through hundreds of applications and may spend only a few seconds reviewing your resume. To get someone to look at it longer, your resume must quickly convey that you are capable and competent enough to be worth interviewing. The more thoroughly you prepare your resume now, the more likely someone is to read it later.
This guide, "Preparing a Resume," will be useful if you're writing your first resume or want to analyze the effectiveness of your current one. The Writing Center can also help you draft your resume and cover letters, and can give you sample resumes and related handouts. Simply drop by; no appointment is necessary.
Gather and Check All Necessary Information
EDUCATION usually means post-secondary and can include special seminars, summer school, or night school as well as college and university. If you are just starting college, you can include high school as well. List degrees and month/year obtained or expected; names and locations of schools; major and minor, if any; grade point average. A brief summary of important courses you've taken might also be helpful.
EXPERIENCE includes full-time paid jobs, academic research projects, internships or co-op positions, part-time jobs, or volunteer work. List the month/years you worked, position, name and location of employer or place, and responsibilities you had. As you describe your experiences, ask yourself questions like these:
Even if you're new to a field, you aren't necessarily starting from scratch.
HONORS. List any academic awards (scholarships, fellowships, honors list), professional awards or recognition, or community awards (i.e. for athletic skills).
SKILLS. List computer languages and software, research, laboratory, teaching or tutoring, communication, leadership, or athletic, among others.
ACTIVITIES. List academic, professional, or community organizations in which you hold office or are currently a member; list professional and community activities, including volunteer work. Listing extra-curricular activities or hobbies is optional.
After you have all this information down, check it for accuracy. You'll need full names, in some cases full addresses, correct and consistent dates, and correct spellings.
Match Your Skills and Experience with an Employer's Needs
Also, the Rensselaer Career Development Center (CDC) can help you with job-search techniques. The CDC offers workshops, materials, personal assistance, and on-campus recruiting. It also coordinates a "Focus Program" to help freshmen, sophomores, and juniors find out about their field from Rensselaer alumni. Call the CDC at 276-6234, or drop by the Darrin Communication Center, Room 209.
EMPLOYER: For a certain position, what aspects of your education, experience, or skills will be most attractive to that employer? List SPECIFIC coursework, areas of specialty, specific skills, or knowledge that you think would interest the employer.
Highlight Details That Demonstrate Your Capabilities
Organize the Resume Effectively
EDUCATION: Often comes first in student resumes, especially if it is a strong asset.
EXPERIENCE: Here, you can use one of two formats:
AWARDS/HONORS: Use reverse chronological order; include titles, places, dates.
ACTIVITIES: Generally, list hobbies, travel, or languages only if they relate to your job interests. In some cases, you may wish to emphasize your willingness to travel or relocate.
REFERENCES: You need not put these on your resume. Instead, you can prepare a separate list of references, with complete name, title, company name, address, and telephone numbers for each individual. Usually, you give this list to prospective employers after your interview.
CREATING YOUR DRAFT:
Consider Word Choice Carefully
Whatever your final word choices are, they should accurately describe you--your skills, talents, and experience.
Choose ACTIVE VERBS that describe your skills, abilities, and accomplishments. Examples: I can contribute, enjoy creating, have experience in organizing. . . While at X Company, I administered, coordinated, directed, participated in.... Below is a list of such verbs:
NOTE: You can change the forms of any of these verbs to stress different aspects of your abilities and experience: organize ==> organized, organizing, organization.
Choose ADJECTIVES and NOUNS that describe yourself positively and accurately:
Ask Other People to Comment on Your Resume
NOTE: People may offer many different opinions. Use your own judgment and be open-minded about constructive criticism.
Make the Final Product Presentable
Evaluate Your Resume
Now you're done! Just one more suggestion: If you are sending your resume to a prospective employer, you'll probably also have to include a separate cover letter. This is usually one page long. The letter indicates your interest in a particular company or position, summarizes the most important aspects of your education and experience, and lets the employer know where and when you can be contacted for an interview. The Writing Center and the Career Development Center can give you more information about effective cover letters.
The preliminary application for a professional position generally consists of two documents: a cover letter and a resume. This handout describes the cover letter; the resume is described in a separate Writing Center handout.
While the resume is a somewhat generic advertisement for yourself, the cover letter allows you to tailor your application to each specific job. Although the thrust of your various letters may remain the same, with the assorted text-processing options available at RPI—options that include find-and-replace and merging capabilities—there is
really no reason to have a single, generic cover letter.
While your goal is an interview and, ultimately, a job offer, the more immediate purpose of your cover letter in some cases may simply be to gain an attentive audience for your resume.
Therefore, c over letters should be tailored to each specific company you are applying to. You should conduct enough research to know the interests, needs, values, and goals of each company, and your letters should reflect that knowledge.
The letter should name the position for which you are applying and also make specific references to the company. Indicate your knowledge of and interest in the work the company is currently doing, and your qualification for the position. You want the reader to know:
The first paragraph should be brief, perhaps two or three sentences, stating
The concluding paragraph of your letter should request an interview (or some other response, as appropriate). State where and when you can be reached, and express your willingness to come to an interview or supply further information. Close by thanking your reader for his or her time and consideration.
Example: Cover Letter 1
Ms. Gail Roberts
Dear Ms. Roberts:
Your advertisement for software engineers in the January issue of the IEEE Spectrum caught my attention. I was drawn to the ad by my strong interest in both software design and Database.
I have worked with a CALMA system in developing VLSI circuits, and I also have substantial experience in the design of interactive CAD software. Because of this experience, I can make a direct and immediate contribution to your department. I have enclosed a copy of my resume, which details my qualifications and suggests how I might be of service to Database.
I would like very much to meet with you to discuss your open positions for software engineers. If you wish to arrange an interview, please contact me at the above address or by telephone at (518) 271-9999.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Example: Cover Letter 2
Mr. John M. Curtis
Dear Mr. Curtis:
As an experienced computer programmer who is presently pursuing a master's degree in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I am writing to request information about possible summer employment opportunities with HAL. I am interested in a position that will allow me to combine the talents I have developed in both computer programming and electrical engineering. However, as you can see from the attached resume, I have extensive experience in many related fields, and I always enjoy new challenges.
I feel that it is important for me to maintain a practical, real-world perspective while developing my academic abilities. I am proud of the fact that I have financed my entire education through scholarships and summer jobs related to my field of study. This work experience has enhanced my appreciation for the education I am pursuing. I find that I learn as much from my summer jobs as I do from my academic studies. For example, during the summer of 1986, while working for IBM in Boca Raton, Florida, I gained a great deal of practical experience in the field of electronic circuit logic and driver design. When I returned to school in the fall and took Computer Hardware Design, I found that my experience with IBM had thoroughly prepared me for the subject.
Having said all this, I realize that your first consideration in hiring an applicant must not be the potential educational experience HAL can provide, but the skills and services the applicant has to offer. I hope the experience and education described in my resume suggest how I might be of service to HAL.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how I might best assist HAL in fulfilling its present corporate needs. I will be available for employment from May 14 through August 31, 2002. Please let me know what summer employment opportunities are available at HAL for someone with my education, experience, and interests. You can reach me at the above address or by phone at (518) 271-0000.
Thank you for your consideration.
Résumé Cover Letters
First Paragraph (Solicited): Solicited letters are written in response to job advertisements or addressed to companies that you know are seeking new employees. Indicate what position you are applying for, and where you heard about it. Mention where you saw the opening advertised, whom you talked with at a job fair, etc. Mention your basic qualifications in terms of your educational background and work experience. The way you organize the last sentence should match the order of the topics you discuss in the rest of the paper. And in general, think of your job letter as an amplification of the basic information you've supplied in your résumé.
First Paragraph (Unsolicited or Prospecting): You would send out this kind of letter to a company you want to work for that isn't currently advertising for an open position. The only thing different you'd do in this kind of letter is begin with a hook that will get your readers' attention and indicate a special skill or qualification you have.
Body Paragraphs: Develop your qualifications and background in detail, discussing your most important qualifications first. Start off each paragraph with a point sentence that briefly states your strengths, experience, or skills. When you develop your qualifications, try to mention specific accomplishments: e.g., design awards, work projects completed, group projects done for a class. Explain how each of these accomplishments (a) demonstrates your general abilities or skills and (b) is relevant to the position for which you are applying.
Concluding Paragraph: Ask for an interview by indicating where, when, and how you will be available. Also mention when you can begin working for them. As a general rule, provide your phone number and possibly your e-mail address. Your home or permanent addresses should appear at the top of the letter, and both should appear at the top of the résumé (do not include your name at the top of the letter—it should appear on the résumé, however.
Selling yourself through your CV
Your CV is a very powerful marketing tool and is your first opportunity to make a good impression on a prospective employer. It is no longer enough to just list qualifications and dates as employers now expect details of duties or responsibilities.
In doing so, be concise and use bullet points where possible. You should particularly concentrate on providing details of your existing position, as this will be of primary interest to an employer. Focus on what you have achieved and handled in this particular role, rather than re-writing your job description.
It is important to tailor your CV if you are responding to a specific role and use a cover letter where appropriate, indicating your suitability for application.
Preparing your CV can be classed as an art in itself, as it is essential to make it appealing to the employer. As job advertisements now attract hundreds of applicants, it is crucial to pay great attention to detail as regards content and presentation.
Limit yourself to two pages and ensure that the first page gives an immediate picture of your personal details, education and career history at a glance.
The Whole Truth
Be accurate, making certain that the content is honest and genuine and do not exaggerate your skills and proficiencies. Making claims about your successes will invariably come back to haunt you as it is now common practice for companies to reference your credentials before considering you for a position.
'CV checking' is a business in itself, as many employers now outsource the job of scrutinising your details, to specialist companies who have the facility to sift through your every detail.
Also, don't leave any gaps and if you have travelled, indicate so as some companies may otherwise assume the worst. The employer will want to get a more rounded picture of you as a person and the things you enjoy doing outside the working environment.
Mention your most recent key achievements, but be careful not to overstate yourself in any way. Remember the quality of your accomplishments is far more important than the quantity.
Presenting your CV in a plastic folder is now a thing of the past and the current vogue is to invest in the simple format using high-quality paper.
Avoid fancy typefaces, ensure spelling and grammar are correct and that the text is readable and visually pleasing, with all headings clearly highlighted. It is a good idea to ask someone you trust to read your CV before submitting to a prospective employer.
The computer spell check is not always the most reliable method of proof reading such an important document. Error spotting is the quickest way to weed out the weaker candidates when an employer is presented with numerous CV's.
All things considered, it is important to remember that a CV is only a piece of paper. It is there to entice a potential employer to interview you. It's the one to one interview that will secure the desired job.
Paul Cotter, Director of Joslin Rowe in Dublin
Peace and survival of life on Earth as we know it are threatened by human activities that lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results from ignorance, greed, and a lack of respect for the Earth's living things... . It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past, which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations. Clearly this is a pivotal generation... . Our marvels of science and technology are matched if not outweighed by many current tragedies, including human starvation in some parts of the world, and extinction of other life forms... . We have the capability and responsibility. We must act before it is too late. Tenzin Gyatso the fourteenth Dalai Lama.