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Your Resume/CV

Your resume—also called CV—is a summary of your professional or academic life until now, and it usually concentrates on your personal details, education and work experience.

!!! Your resume has only one job—to get you an interview!

In American English we say resume—sometimes written résumé or resumé (from French). In British English the term CV is more usual, and it stands for the Latin words curriculum vitae (= the course of one's life).

Your resume's job is very simple: to get you a job interview. To do this, your resume must be:

  • clear
  • well-organised
  • easy to read
  • concise
  • relevant to the job offered

Content

Your resume is the summary of your professional life. You should include everything that is relevant to your employment or career and nothing that is irrelevant. Exactly what you include depends partly on your type of work. There are usually 5 general headings of information to include:

  • personal details - name, address, email and telephone number (and sometimes nationality, age/date of birth and marital status)
  • objective - a headline that summarises the job opportunity you are seeking
  • work experience - your previous employment in reverse chronological order - with most detail for your present or most recent job
  • education - details of secondary and university education - including the establishments and qualifications (but excluding any that are irrelevant to your career)
  • personal interests - demonstrating that you are a balanced, responsible member of society with an interesting life outside work

Sometimes, you may need to give additional information for a particular job or because you have special qualifications. Here is a list of most of the possible headings.

Format

Word-processed or hand-written?

Your resume should be word-processed, for several reasons. Firstly, in the English-speaking world a hand-written resume would be considered unprofessional. Secondly, many recruitment agencies and some employers like to electronically scan resumes (they cannot do this with hand-written resumes). Thirdly, as we shall see later, it will be much easier for you to update and modify your resume to target it to a specific employer.

How many pages?

Unless you are applying to be Secretary General of the United Nations, it is probably best to limit your resume to a maximum of 2 pages. Remember, your resume is a tool to get you an interview: it is not designed to get you the job. You can usually put everything you need to get an interview on 1 or 2 pages. If you put more than this, the employer has too much to read (and may throw your resume into the nearest bin). In addition, if you put everything in the resume, you will have nothing new to say at the interview. Be kind to employers! Leave them some questions to ask you.

What size paper?

Do not be tempted to demonstrate your individuality by using a non-standard paper size: you will simply irritate the employer. There are basically 2 standard paper sizes, depending on the part of the world:

  • A4 (297 x 210 millimetres) - used by most of the world excluding the USA and Canada
  • US Letter Size (8 1/2 x 11 inches) - used largely in the USA and Canada

You must judge for yourself the most appropriate size for the company or companies to which you are applying.

What quality paper?

Remember that your resume may be read and handled by several people. It will also be an important document during the interview that you hope to have. Choose a good quality, fairly heavy paper so that it will remain in good condition at all times. Normal photocopying paper is 80g/m2 in weight. This is a little too light and will soon look creased and dirty. 100g/m2 or 115g/m2 would be better.

What sort of typeface?

Choose an easy-to-read typeface. Typefaces are designed for specific purposes. The standard typefaces Times New Roman or Arial are perfect for your resume. Not too small, not too large! A size of 12 point would be appropriate.

DO NOT USE ALL CAPITALS LIKE THIS! CAPITALS ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO READ AND MAY BE CONSIDERED IMPOLITE IN THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORLD. Do not use a lot of italic like this. Italic can also be difficult and irritating to read. Do not use a fancy typeface. It is not appropriate for a professional document.

Sample Resume/CV

Resume Headings

Resume Do's and Don'ts