Prepare a CV of High-Achiever

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1 Prepare a CV of High-Achiever Your Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing a Powerful CV regardless of your age, education and work experience by Nina Solomatina //

2 Imagine this situation: you finally prepared all your admission documents, it was overwhelming and frustrating process when you had to get organized with so many different papers in different languages, so at some point you decided to take the easy road. Meaning that you decided not to customize your each document, but use the ones you already had in order to save time and make it quicker. Sounds familiar? Yep, you ve probably had your CV already and you just translated it into English. You think it s all right because anyway you have great experience and admissions officer is going to spot it immediately. Or if you don t have that great experience, you probably think: But what they expect of a 22 y.o. guy who was studying all these years up to now? The truth is that nobody would care how old you are and whether or not you had a possibility to obtain any professional experience on top of your studies. And whether you had enough time to prepare all your admission documents! You can not change your grades, you can not change the ranking of the university you went to, nor can you invent any work experience that you didn t have. But what you can do is to take your chance to reveal every meaningful experience from your life and present it in a way that would convince the admission committee that you are a thoughtful, ambitious and result-driven graduate with lots of interests outside your study life. You are in a driver s seat and it is your decision to take every opportunity to sell yourself with every document you submit. Your CV counts, so make it work for you. All the steps on how to do it are provided for you below. Good luck & work hard to stand out, Nina 2

3 Before you get started pay attention to this: Your CV is not a list of all your activities up to now. It is your short presentation of yourself in a given form. The format gives you many limitations, but you still can and should be creative about it in order to make a necessary impression with your CV. Your CV should also be highly targeted, so to say, the CV you prepare now for the admission to a graduate program is slightly different to a document with which you apply for jobs. You should include only the relevant information for your audience. Length: You CV should be no longer than 1 page! In some exceptional cases it might be one and a half pages or two pages (absolute maximum!). If it s any longer that only means that you list all your activities without thinking if it brings any value for your audience. And yes, in some cases you may have indeed made many internships and finished several professional courses that directly relate to the program you apply to, then you can use a bit more space (no longer than 2 pages anyway!). But consider then not to outline too much information about each CV entry. At the end of the day, you want your CV to be reviewed, right? Even with one page that s already a lot of information to consume, if it s any longer no one is going to read it for hours. Wording: Since you are so restricted with the space every word should earn its place on your CV. Do not use general words and phrases that bring no value, but use a laser-focused language that drives a point home. Format: You can use any of the templates given below, or you can use yours. Just make sure it looks clean and professional, and information is presented in a structured and easily readable manner. Make it easy to read and try to avoid a busy-looking document. Nevertheless, what matters most is not the way you present your information graphically, but rather how you present it qualitatively. 3

4 Herewith is a step-by-step guidance on how to prepare your powerful and focused CV that would provide a reader with a necessary impression about you. 1. Personal Information Here you include the basic information about yourself. Just make sure you include the phone numbers with area code and at which you can be really contacted (so if you never use your home landline, no need to include it here). As well, try to include a more professional looking address as It is not as critical, but if you include your address that is something like it doesn t give the best impression. If you have a good representative photo of yourself include it in your CV as well. A picture with a smiling face in a professional outfit is always appealing. But if you do not have a more or less professional photo, do not include just any picture here. A photo, which is cut out of a bigger photo and where you can still see a shoulder of another person standing next to you, is not the best, so keep including your photo as an option. 2. Work Experience 2.1 Employer When you state the name of the company you worked for, do not just write its name, but give also some characteristics. Exception here if you ve worked for McKinsey & Co or Louis Vuitton, or other big name international company which is already well-known. Then you do not need to explain further about the company. But for any other organization you shall indicate the industry, company s position in the market and any other relevant details. Remember also, that even though your employer could be a well-known company in Russia (e.g. Retail Group X5), admission officers in another country may have no clue about it. Therefore, in order to demonstrate how meaningful your work experience actually is, you have to present your employer. 4

5 See the difference here: Bad example Good example 09/2012 till p.t. JSC TEKHSOL 09/2012 till p.t. JSC TEKHSOL (Leading company in Russian market for providing customized IT solutions and infrastructure for banking segment) In the first example, nobody would ever guess what is that company about and if it could be called company at all. In the second example, you immediately get an impression that it is a solid organization and understand what it is actually doing. No question about the viability of this firm. 2.2 Your position Never include just the official name of your position without telling what it actually is, unless the name is self-explanatory. That is the biggest mistake of many of us, since we assume the name of a position would be clear for everyone. But firstly, someone with no knowledge on your industry may have no idea about the indicated position, secondly, in another country the same position may imply totally different responsibilities. Consider the difference: Bad example Good example 09/2012 till p.t. Manager Assistant 09/2012 till p.t. Business Development Manager Assistant responsible for small and medium banking segment In the first example you may wonder what the person was really doing. Did he do a secretary work like arranging meetings in Outlook and booking flights for his manager? Could be anything. In the second example you get the point. Ok, that person was on a serious side of business, he was responsible for a particular area and assisted the manager in growing the business. Sounds good, right? If you were an intern, never state just an intern or summer intern. You will be better out by saying Analyst Intern or Marketing Operations Intern. If you outline the area of your responsibility next to the name of your position, it would add much value and understanding for those who review your CV. 5

6 2.3 Your responsibilities at work Here you provide more insights into what you did at your work, what you learned and what you achieved, therefore this part is much more important than actually the name of your employer and your position. Never skip this section even if you think the name of your position explains everything, because it doesn t. Sometimes we wish we could have done more at our jobs, so we could be more proud when we put down on paper all what we ve done. But the principle here is not to outline everything as it is, but to present it in a meaningful way that would make your reader think: Wow, this gal seems to be able to accomplish a lot! On the other hand, if you consider that you were challenged at your work and you were always involved in important tasks, do not forget to show it to the reader. On you draft paper write down absolutely everything that you did at work (even if you just sorted papers, printed out the presentations or just sat during the meetings). Then, think now how can you package it differently (without inventing unrealistic tasks!), so that it gives a solid impression. If you sat during the meetings, you can say that you helped to prepare and assisted during the meetings with key clients. If you sorted out the papers, you can say that you performed the analysis of the relevant documentation for specific projects. Be a bit more creative about your duties at work, try to look at it not through how you feel about it, but how you want others to perceive it. Then pick the relevant duties in accordance to the degree you apply for, and present everything from a necessary prospective. 2.4 How can you achieve the required impression? Firstly, use verbs when outlining your duties. Instead of saying research and analysis on the markets, say that you performed profound research and analyzed the key drivers of the market X. If you did information input into systems, outline that you performed and ensured accurate information input into marketing database of company X. Secondly, focus on results, rather than processes. Your reader is interested to know what you actually achieved with what you did during your work. It doesn t matter that you were monitoring and analyzing the competitors of company X, what matters is the result you brought did you create a matrix that allowed to ensure a competitive positioning for firm X or did you identify the key growth areas for company X? 6

7 If you state the results you achieved, you give the impression to your audience that you are a result-oriented ambitious professional. Any admission officer would want to add such a promising candidate to the University community. See the difference: Bad example Good example Main activities and responsibilities at work: Generated sales to individual and corporate clients, provided customer service & support; developed company s database of clients and partners; performed market and consumer research and assisted in developing company s strategy Main activities and responsibilities at work: Generated sales and delivered exceptional customer service to individual and corporate clients (9 out of 10 clients would recommend our service); ensured competitiveness of company products by close monitor and analysis of the rivals and market trends, identified new business opportunities for the company in areas of online trainings and small prep packages selling By reading the first example you think: So what? What do all these ongoing daily activities mean? Were there any results, any outcomes or achievements? In the next example you see that this person is an achiever, he is making sure he gets to a valuable outcome and is not just being involved in the process of doing something. 3. Education and Training Here you list all the relevant educational degrees you ve already obtained up to date or are still in the process of obtaining. You can also include the appropriate to your objective non-degree courses. But make sure what you include is indeed a necessary information for the admission committees. For example, when you apply to a graduate program there is no need to include details about your secondary school. Everybody goes to school and it was 5-6 years ago, so what? Unless you had a very untypical experience (i.e. you did your last high school years abroad), you really shall not include the details about your secondary education. Although if you want to outline that you finished the school with distinction and were the best pupil, you can always include it in the Achievements section. Or if you want to show your commitment to a particular discipline from early ages (e.g. you went to a technical lyceum, then did your bachelor in Physics and are now applying to a Master in the same area), just include a single line about it in the Education part. 7

8 For you entry into Education section you shall include the dates of your study, the official name of your degree and the official name of your University. Bear in mind also, that even if you attended the most prestigious university in your country, admissions officer in another continent may have no idea about its ranking and he is not going to do a research on it for you. Therefore, it pays the effort to include some kind of qualitative information to give an idea about the status of your University (e.g. ranking). Equally important is also to include the key disciplines you took or indicate your specialization since majority of degree names are very broad. Additionally, if you have good grades at your University, include a GPA (grade point average) score. Or you can state that you are within top n% of students. But this entry is really optional in case you want to impress with your scores. Have a look at the following examples: Bad example Good example National Research University Higher School of Economics Degree in Management (Bachelor) National Research University Higher School of Economics (3 rd University in Russia by Webometrics Int. Ranking, top 10 Russian Universities by Forbes 2010) Bachelor in Management (Focus on Finance, Private Equity and Asset Management) BA Thesis: Investing in small-cap value stocks in South Korea In the first example you obviously assume that anybody would just now how strong this University is and how competitive it is to get in. Also, the name of the qualification is way to broad and seeks for the specifics was it a financial management, HR or Marketing Management? In the second example you immediately get an understanding of the level of the University (great job!) and you further understand what the person actually studied. On top of it, this is your opportunity to show a commitment to a specific professional path just by stating your focus areas during your studies. Makes totally different impression, right? 4. Achievements If you ve done your job by presenting your education and professional path in the resultoriented manner, your CV should already look pretty impressive. But go a bit further and include some more information with the achievements you are especially proud of and that would give even better impression to admissions. 8

9 If nothing pops up in your mind immediately and you are not even sure if there is something that may be relevant for your graduate admission, think again - everybody has achieved something in their life, sometimes we just do not consider it achievements! Also, remember the way you present the information also makes a difference (instead of saying participated in business competitions, state the specific outcome e.g. a finalist of a particular competition ). Consider the following example where you can learn that actually arranging interviews with top end professionals for your Thesis may well be considered an impressive achievement. Good Example Achievements: McKinsey Business Diving Competition Finalist (was directly invited for a last round interview to join the company); managed to arrange inperson interviews with 14 private equity world leaders (level Partner/Managing Director and up) for Bachelor s Thesis research 5. Personal Skills and Competences This is your another chance to shine and present some more qualitative information about yourself and to introduce any other interests outside of your academic and professional life. Specify your language skills on a clear scale (from Basic to Fluent). If you passed any language exams in the past, indicate also your official results. For any other skills (social skills, technical skills) outline what you consider would characterize you more. Just try to avoid too much of generic words like team-player, result-driven, etc. You obviously can t avoid all of them, just make your best to sound a bit more personal and not just jot down the best characteristics. Indicating any volunteering activities, sports, travel, unusual hobby of yours would play a favor for you. A good entry in this part may look like this: Good Example Languages: Russian (native), English (fluent, TOEFL ibt 106), French (upperintermediate) Computer skills: Excellent MS Office skills (Excel, Word, Power Point), advanced knowledge of SPSS 9

10 Extra-curricular activities: 06/12-09/12 - Volunteering work at ARCA Cultural and Educational Centre (CEC): Teaching French to children in the Favela of Vila Prudente, São Paulo Personal interests: Strong Interest in Finance and Banking, Passion for Sports (Cycling, Golf, Tennis), travelling (wide travel experience on 4 continents) This is it! You made it to the end and you are now fully equipped to prepare a powerful CV that would help you get admitted to a Master s Degree at your dream university. Start taking action now: - pick one of the templates below (or use yours), - begin crafting your CV step-by-step with recommendations above. It should take you couple of short hours to prepare everything from scratch, then you should allow another hour or so for polishing and improving it. Good luck! 10

11 Curriculum Vitae Insert photograph if relevant Personal information First name(s) / Surname(s) First name(s) Surname(s) Telephone(s) Include area codes Mobile: Citizenship Date of birth Work experience Dates Occupation or position held Main activities and responsibilities Name and address of employer Type of business or sector Add separate entries for each relevant post occupied, starting from the most recent (remove if not relevant) Education and training Dates Title of qualification awarded Principal subjects/occupational skills covered Name and type of organisation providing education and training Achievements Add separate entries for each relevant course you have completed, starting from the most recent. (remove if not relevant) Include here any relevant achievement (Remove heading if not relevant, see instructions) Personal skills and competences Mother tongue(s) Other language(s) Specify mother tongue (if relevant add other mother tongue(s), see instructions) Specify level of proficiency (Advanced, Working knowledge, Intermediate, Basic) Social skills and competences Organisational skills and competences Technical skills and competences Computer skills and competences Other skills and competences (Remove if not relevant) (Remove if not relevant) (Remove if not relevant) (Remove if not relevant) (Remove if not relevant) 11

12 First Name LAST NAME Address Phone number (include area codes) address Education From YYYY To YYYY University Name Degree and discipline GPA Subjects Thesis and grade Student achievements (eg head of Student Council) and scholarships Internships/Work Experience (state whether full-time, part-time or internship) MM/YYYY MM/YYYY MM/YYYY MM/YYYY MM/YYYY MM/YYYY Company name Department Details including role, tasks and responsibilities Company name Department Details including role, tasks and responsibilities Company name Department Details including role, tasks and responsibilities Languages Language ability (eg native) Language 2 ability (eg fluent) Extra Curriculum Activities & Additional Information Sports: Volunteer work: Awards: Interests: 12

13 Your name, surname Phone numbers address Current residence Education Dates, Name of the University Name of your degree Additional Courses State any additional relevant non-degree courses Work Experience Dates, Name of employer Position Duties Achievements List any relevant achievements during your studies, your professional achievements or any other Languages Russian: Native English: Fluent (Confirmation by exam) Other language Computer Skills Include relevant computer skills Personal Date of birth Personal characteristics Professional and non-professional interests References available upon request 13

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