Practical advice for writing a curriculum vitaeBrian - December 24, 2020
Tips and resources for writing a successful resume don’t always give enough importance to the challenge of eloquently summarizing an entire career on one small page. Let’s get it straight: writing a good resume isn’t enough to list the schools you’ve attended, positions you’ve held, and companies you’ve worked for. No, your CV is the most valuable marketing document for your job search, it’s your very first presentation to a company’s hiring manager, and it’s the ultimate reference for your career.
During the recruiting period, employers receive tons of resumes. That’s why it’s so important to understand what they are looking for when writing your own. Present your skills and experience in a way that matches what the employer is looking for, this will give you a better chance of being called for an interview.
Want to impress the hiring manager? Whether it’s writing the first CV or just updating it, follow these quick tips to get your application noticed.
WHAT TO DO
- Personalize your CV for each job. Personalize your CV to suit the position you are applying for by highlighting the qualifications and expertise that precisely match the requirements of that job. Employers often use software that filters documents for specific keywords, so use the wording of the job posting.
- Showcase your technical skills. Give a good summary of the software and technologies you have mastered, indicate your skill level, and note how long you have been using them. Again, use the job description to determine which software you should mention.
- Recognize your accomplishments. When listing your past jobs, give concrete examples of projects you have worked on and what effect they have had on the bottom line. Did they increase sales, expand the customer base or penetrate target markets? Did you have more responsibilities within this company after having proven yourself?
- Rate your accomplishments. Include a small list of the prizes and awards you have received. It is also a good idea to mention if you are part of a relevant professional organization or if you have given lectures or workshops in the areas mentioned.
- Read again, and again. If your CV contains typos or errors, the hiring manager will conclude that you are not a thorough person. Ask friends or colleagues you trust to take a look at your resume. A fresh look is more conducive to detecting minor mistakes.
- Notify your references. If you are actively looking for a job, be sure to alert people you cite as references that they might receive a call or email about you. Send them a recent version of your resume so that they are up to date on your accomplishments and have all the facts in hand at the right time.
- Always keep your CV up to date. Even if you’re not looking for a job, update your resume every time you take on a new role or complete an important project. The task will seem less painful later if you keep all your job search documents up to date.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- Present your education or your professional experience in a misleading manner. A lie, on its own, can justify dismissal. Be honest in all of your application materials.
- Explain why you left each of your jobs. Some employers may ask you during the interview why you are quitting your current job – and you should be ready to answer this question – but you don’t need to include this information on your resume.
- Being too personal. Don’t include too much personal information on your resumes, such as a photo, height, social insurance number (SIN), marital status, or religion. You don’t want to arouse the conscious or unconscious biases of the hiring manager.
- Write “References available on request”. The person conducting the interview expects you to be able to provide these references when asked. Some companies will even ask for them early in the hiring process – it’s best to follow the guidelines in the job posting.
- Worry about specific dates. Trying to remember the exact day you started a job you had 15 years ago is quite a challenge! You can just give the month and year of start and end of employment for each position.
- Try a new unusual format. It is best to choose an elegant and easy-to-read resume template. You want to grab the hiring manager’s attention with your experience, not with garish fonts, colors, or layout.
- Use your work phone number or email address. It’s always better to use your own email address and home phone number, rather than your work contact details, even if your current boss knows you are looking for a new job.
- Indicate your high school education if you have a university degree. On the other hand, if you have not completed your post-secondary studies or if the high school diploma is the only one you have obtained, indicate it.
- Mention the general average obtained in CEGEP or university. One exception to this rule: if you are still studying or if you have just received your diploma. Otherwise, only provide this information if the job posting specifically requests it.
- Give your previous salaries. If it says in the job posting that applicants must give a salary scale, do so in your cover letter. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until the final rounds of interviews to talk about the money.
A well-written CV is the very basis of your job search. However, to get the job of your dreams, you need to develop a winning strategy. Contact a professional recruiter for advice on cover letter writing, interview preparation, salary negotiation, and other helpful career advice.