Points you should consider when writing a CV or resume
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume is a summary of your educational and academic background. Its purpose is to outline your credentials for a professional position, a research fellowship or an academic grant within a few pages (max. 1-2 pages if not stated otherwise).
We want to help you to write a professional CV and an accompanying cover letter. The following pages give suggestions and help on how they should be written.
Your CV may get as little as 30-60 seconds of consideration by a potential employer. Therefore, an effective CV must be able to attract (positive) attention, stimulate the reader's interest, create a desire to get to know you better and generate action.
To maximize effectiveness it should be:
- Clear (well organized, readable, easily understandable)
- Concise (no double entries, brief)
- Complete (all relevant information should be included)
- Consistent (no mix of styles, same order in presenting)
- Current (include dates with all information; revise CV at least once a year)
Finally while the content is critical, you should also be conscious of the image you present with this document. Remember that your CV may be your first contact with an employer or grant reviewer. So it needs to be visually appealing and should not contain any typographical or grammatical errors.
What you should include in your CV or resume
The categories listed below are often included in CV's or resumes. However, no CV contains all of them, and some CVs will contain other categories that are not listed here. The basic rule is that your own unique educational and work experiences should be presented to the best effect.
The first step in actually developing your CV is to write down all the relevant information - later you can organize it into categories. After you have written down all the relevant information develop a hierarchy placing the most important and relevant categories and information first. All other information can be listed in descending order of importance and relevance.
The relevancy of information varies strongly. It is a good idea to try to see yourself through the eyes of your potential employer: When you are applying for a job as an illustrator your high school art qualifications might be relevant. If you are applying for an internship at an investment bank they are probably not.
Possible sections to include in your CV or resume:
- Application information
- Educational background
- Relevant Experience (work experience, internships,…)
- Other Experience (voluntary work, commitments,…)
- Languages and international travel
- Computer and Office Skills
- Other- Memberships, Associations, Conferences
- References (on demand)
- Photo (on demand)
The following additional information topics might be of interest as well, esp. when applying for an academic position or grant.
- Dissertation Title and Advisor
- Certification (s) Awards/Honours/Patents
- Grants received
- Publications and Presentations
Your name should appear on the top of each page.
Include your personal data: name, date of birth (Year, month, day), place of birth (city, country), nationality, address, phone & fax number (including area codes) and e-mail address (only if you check your mail regularly).
In reverse chronological order list all of your degrees from college on, with the name of the institution and date they were awarded. List the date you expect to receive the degree for the programme you are currently in.
If you are applying for an academic position or grant it is standard to list the name of your advisor and your thesis title.
If you are applying for a professional position only mention it if it is of relevance.
Listing of positions (Part-time, full-time, temporary and permanent), which relate to the type of work sought.
Include: department/firm/agency/organization; complete name, city and state; job/position title; dates; also include a brief description of your activities/duties.
Grouping other kinds of experiences (including voluntary work and/or internships) can enhance your C.V.
Languages and international travel
For each language, including your mother tongue, indicate fluency level of spoken and written language ability as well as reading skills using the following criteria: fair/basic knowledge, working knowledge, fluent or excellent knowledge.
Mention any certificates or language schools attended. International travel, language exchanges and extended stays abroad are of great importance, as they prove your ability to adapt and your interest in the world.
References (on demand)
It is quite usual to include reference letters from former employers in your application. Do not send originals, send high quality copies.
Sometimes an employer will ask for personal references. Compile a list of three persons, who are not related to you (along with their telephone/fax number, address and occupation) and can be contacted in case of enquiries. They must be familiar with your professional qualifications and your character.
It is sufficient to communicate the list, when your potential employee asks for it.
Opinion is divided, check the job posting: some companies insist on a photo, some particularly discourage applicants from including one.
It is totally acceptable to integrate a colour scan into the CV.
If you choose to send a photo it might be an idea to not attach it: If the company wants to, they can remove it from your CV. Write your name and contact information at the back.. Just in case they change their mind.
List all areas of certification relevant to the position; include: type, year received
Include name of grant; name of granting agency; date received; title or purpose of research project.