Tips for CV Writing

Three Things You Need to Know to Write a Resume
by Hugh Wilson, Volunteer Staff, Creative Writing Institute

What is its purpose?
What to include?
What to leave out?

The Purpose

You write a resume to get a job, right? Wrong. You write a resume to get an interview. Nobody gets a job on the strength of a resume alone.

Prospective employers want to know more than whether you have the qualifications, skills and experience for the post to be filled. They want to know what sort of person you are, how well you will fit in with the company image, fellow employees and customers.

They can only judge that in a face-to-face meeting. Therefore, your resume should be geared to arousing interest in you as a person, and not only your ability to do the job.

What to Include

Don’t forget your name, address, telephone number and email. Yes, people have left out those vital details, then wondered why they had no replies. Check and double check the details for accuracy. If your telephone number is one digit off, you won’t get any calls.

Some discrimination laws make date of birth optional. If you think your age might go against you, leave it out and hope what you have to offer will get you an interview.

What to include will depend on the job itself. For instance, if a job involves teamwork and supervising others, the fact that you were captain of your school hockey team may show leadership qualities that work in your favor. If the job involves sitting alone in an office doing spreadsheets, focus on your computer skills, and your ability to work without supervision.

What to Leave Out

Avoid the personal pronoun. Change “I was captain of the school hockey team” to “Captained the school hockey team.” The employer can figure out who you’re talking about.

Leave out anything that doesn’t show you in your best light. A member of one of my writing classes asked me to look at her 18-year-old granddaughter’s CV, (as we call resumes in Britain – Curriculum Vitae – Latin for the course of one’s life). The girl had applied for umpteen jobs and had not a single interview.

I rewrote it and stuck to the facts, but presented them in a more favorable light. For instance, she had listed her exam results by subject, including grades that were far from impressive. I simply put “Five GCSEs, including English and Maths.”

She had attended a drama school for a year and attained a Certificate of Excellence for her performance in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”. No need to add that she had been in the chorus and all of them received one. I played up her computing and word processing skills. Within two weeks she landed a job with a local office supply company.

A resume can be a powerful selling tool. Use it to sell yourself, and land that interview!

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