CV WRITING CONSIDERATIONS

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1 MS PHD'S IN EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM CV Tips A CV or Curriculum Vitae documents: Your Life History Your job history Your achievements Your Skills A curriculum vita is a marketing tool. With your CV, you will be able to promote yourself. Imagine the CV as being a brochure that will list the benefits of valuable resources: your time and skills! When writing a CV, look at it from your future employer's point of view. Would your CV stand out against the competition (the other candidates)? Would the prospective employer want to talk you for a possible job? You have to ask yourself these questions when writing your curriculum vitae. Networking and interviewing are essential elements of your job hunt. Your CV is the first step in the door. A CV will often become your first contact with potential employers and will either open or close the door. If you are invited for an interview, you will be in a position to explain and expand on what is in your CV. A CV is an essential tool in your job search. When applying for a vacancy, you generally send your CV to present yourself to the prospective employer. CV WRITING CONSIDERATIONS More important than your CV format is the actual content of your CV and how it is presented. You only have a limited time to show your skills and capture the reader's attention. Make sure the most important information is in the top third of the CV document. Your skills summary, objective or personal profile will achieve this objective. A CV must have focus. "When a recruiter reads your CV, she/he should understand your career path. Always keep your professional objective in mind while writing your CV. Avoid lengthy and boring job descriptions. Whenever possible, write your job description in bullet point form. Make sure potential employers understand how they will benefit from employing you. The employers need to see your achievements and understand how you are able to implement these achievements in their company. Examples of accomplishments would be: save money, increase turn over or profits, improved productivity, better customer quality. Include actual figures when available, id est. quantify your statements; increased customer satisfaction by 20%, decreased research error by 30 %, etc.

2 A CV is made up of: 1. Heading 2. Skills Summary 3. Objective/Personnel Profile 4. Education 5. Work Experience 6. Achievements 1. HEADING The CV heading contains your general information: First name Surname Local address address Land line phone number Cell phone number 2. SKILLS SUMMARY The Skills Summary section, in your CV includes your main skills. You should only include keywords in his section, do not go into lengthy descriptions of your skills. 3. OBJECTIVE/ PERSONAL PROFILE The CV Objective, also referred to as CV Personal Profile, is a statement" What is my next step in my career?" The CV Objective consists of a short concise statement that will tell the employer what kind of position you seek. The type of position, the role (researcher, faculty, administrator) should be included as well. General career goals can be: "A researcher working with a local company." A tenured faculty member at a Research I University." A program officer in a state or federal agency." Having a general career objective in mind can help you focus on those particular skills, abilities and experience required for the job. Your CV should show that you are competent by demonstrating your relevant previous experience and qualifications. If you are unemployed or desperate to switch jobs, the inventory CV is a good time saver. You can write a custom cover letter for each job you apply and send the same CV to all recruiters. If you are interested in several careers write several inventory CVs, each for a particular career goal. If you are job hunting it is a good idea to have several CVs with different profiles or objectives. For example you can have a CV for an intern position and the other for a faculty position. Your CV can highlight achievements in each area. MS PHD S CV Tips Page 2 of 6

3 General & Specific Personal Profiles If you are applying for various jobs within the same industry, write a profile that applies to all jobs in that particular industry. However, it is preferable to write a personal profile for each position. If the profile is tailor-made to the job vacancy, the employer will read the rest of the CVs while keeping in mind that you are a possible match. A personal profile on your CV is a teaser or hook so the employer will investigate you more by reading the rest of your CV. Keywords are a powerful tool in your CV and should be used! Use keywords to summarize your experience. Keywords will also help ensure that your CV comes up when employers search in their CV databases. 4. EDUCATION List all your qualifications in this section. Here you can include all your education, even certifications from non-academic institutions that are related to this job vacancy. 5. WORK EXPERIENCE If you have more work experience than qualifications, put your work experience before your qualifications. 6. ACHIEVEMENTS Defining an achievement An achievement means that a particular objective has been reached. Achievements are defined by: Describing what was used to reach the objective. Identify what objective was reached. Example: Used new research procedure to increase number of samples analyzed within a 24-hour period. The result was a 25% increase in data set for the PI. What does the above statement say? Skill Used: creativity, increased production, initiative. An achievement statement must impress! "Increase sample size" will not get you anywhere unless you define the results, preferably with actual figures. Vague adjectives are to be avoided since they do not give a clear indication your results. When employers read impressive achievement statements they will want to discuss this further and analyze if you can implement these achievements within their business. Securing an interview is not an easy business. You have to provide the right reasons for potential employers to want to speak to you! Successfully applying for a job means showing your employer that you are more suitable than the other candidates. Job application numbers for a particular vacancy vary from tens to hundreds. You will usually need to be short-listed among the first twenty in order be offered an interview. Only CVs that have impressed the employer will make it to this stage. When recruiting people, employers reduce the CV list to around forty to fifty candidates. MS PHD S CV Tips Page 3 of 6

4 The difference between the chosen candidates and the others is a well presented CV and cover letter. Employers are attracted to achievements because they want the applicant to repeat them in their own business. How Employers Look at your Achievements Achievements are quantifiable and make businesses more profitable either directly or indirectly. Everybody does not view achievements equally. For example, taking care of your grandfather while he was ill is definitely an achievement but most employers will not consider that as a business achievement. Remember that employers are looking for achievements that a directly related to, and can improve, their business. People in business all have the same general objectives; profit, enlarged market shares, beat the competition, develop their business, create new products. They will look for candidates that have achieved objectives in these particular areas. Achievements that Employers Value By defining the objectives of a particular position, it is possible to determine achievements that employers will value. Objectives are very similar, but objectives in a particular position focus on specific business objectives. Employers are looking for achievements in specific fields. By defining the objectives that a particular position asks for, you know which achievements to present. If you write about such achievements, you stand a far better chance of being invited for an interview. Skills will help but achievements are proof you can implement your skills in practice. CV STYLES There are five major CV styles. Each CV style is suitable for different situations. 1. Targeted CV 2. Inventory CV 3. Chronological CV 4. Functional CV 5. Combination CV 1. TARGETED CV This kind of CV is a way to focus your career towards a particular objective, within a specific industry or a specific company. Compose a different CV to correspond with each career objective. A targeted CV is written in a way that highlights skills, qualifications and experience that match the requirements of the advertised position. Writing a targeted CV is effective when: You know the requirements of a particular position. You know which company you will send your CV. You are sending your CV in reply to a specific job advertisement. MS PHD S CV Tips Page 4 of 6

5 2. INVENTORY CV The Inventory CV is used when sending your CV to: Various recruiters. When you do not have a specific job objective. This kind of CV is a more general overview of your skills, achievements and qualifications. A general objective or career strategy behind an inventory CV helps in being slightly more specific towards your career goals. 3. CHRONOLOGICAL CV The chronological CV shows your career's progression and growth. The information moves from the beginning of your career to the present situation. The CV is easy to read and one can easily go through the career history. The chronological CV is advised where: You have a solid career history with continuation within the same area and where there are no major gaps. Your responsibilities have increased in each career change. You had high profile job roles. Your most recent jobs are the most important in your career history. The job advertisement specifies this kind of CV. 4. FUNCTIONAL CV The functional CV emphasizes your accomplishments, skills and qualifications at the beginning of your CV. The timeline is not an issue. Your career history is positioned at the end of your CV where you could also list small details about your previous jobs. The functional CV focuses on your skills and accomplishments rather than your life history. What you have done rather than when and where. The functional CV is used in the following situations: You are looking for your first job. You do not want to advertise your age. Your major achievements happened a few years ago. You have been unemployed for a period of time. You are changing careers. 5. COMBINATION CV The combination CV allows the applicant to select elements from targeted, inventory, chronological and functional CV styles to customize the most appropriate document for the position sought. GENERAL CV RED FLAGS Below are examples of red flags found in CVs: No leadership skills or managerial experience. Missing skills, knowledge and/or experience. Patchy career history. Employment gaps. MS PHD S CV Tips Page 5 of 6

6 Many employers. Having worked for only one employer. It's important that you understand what your red flags are. You will be questioned during the interview about anything unclear in your CV and should be prepared for such questions. Balance your red flags with achievements. If there is a clear unbalance between the job requirements and your skills and experience, you will not be offered the job. One should then investigate how to bridge the gap. If education is an issue then a course or formal qualification could help you compete with the other candidates. Addressing your red flags in a CV Make sure that you have common red flags or, even better, turn your red flags into strengths. Switch something from a red flag to strength. Highlight other skills that make up for the red flags For example: If you have not taught at a university, you will need to emphasize your job experience. If you are new to the field of work, try to show your qualifications and related hobbies. If you have worked for small companies, you could, for example, try to highlight the benefits of having to solve a lot of problems on your own with tight budgets. Have a friend or yourself look at red flags in your career through your CV. Identify which points a potential employer might question you about. Once you prepare answers to common questions you're able to start tackling the more difficult parts of your interview and tune your CV accordingly. MSPHDS Adaptation from: MS PHD S CV Tips Page 6 of 6

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