When it comes to applying for a job, the first step we have to take is to complete an attractive Curriculum Vitae (also known as CV or vita) in order to make the recruiter feel interested in you. A CV is one of the most important job-search documents, this is why we must bear in mind several tips in order to make it worthy.
First of all, the importance of a well-written CV has to be always present in our mind. “A good CV won’t get you a job. But if it’s not good, it can cost you a job”, says Jerry A. Bell, ACS senior scientist and a former chemistry professor for 30 years. The question then is: what makes a good Curriculum Vitae?
The essential thing when we are trying to create a good vita lies in its capacity to attract the recruiter’s attention in the shortest period of time, making him really want to meet you. You should sell yourself in the best manner so that the recruiter gets impressed just by having a brief look at your CV. According to Paul Bradley (chairman of Bradley CV’s, the professional CV writing service), the average recruiter only spends 20 to 30 seconds glancing at a CV, which means that you have to grab their attention very quickly indeed. If we are based on this fact, it would be a great idea to highlight what you have to offer at the very beginning of your vita, rather than hiding your main attractions at the end.
Once we know which are the main qualities a vita must have in order to be effective, we should also get familiarized with another concept that may not ring the bell so much: a resume.
Vitas and resumes both have similar purposes, as they are both documents that provide key information about your skills, experiences, education and personal qualities. But there is a difference related to their use, format and length. A CV tends to be used normally for scientific and teaching positions than a resume; this is why vitas usually provide great detail about academic and research experiences. Lisa Balbes, member of the Department of Career Services in the American Chemical Society, Washington, leaves no doubt when she explains this difference: “The CV provides a complete picture of your entire professional history while a resume is a list of transferable skills and accomplishments showing what you can do for the certain company”.
Now it is time we take into account our main and real purpose: which are the steps to follow in the creation of a profitable Curriculum Vitae; in fact, there is little agreement among experts about which are the principal ingredients of an effective CV and which order should they follow in it. Nevertheless, we will show you one of the different CV formats, as a guideline for your future job-search. This pattern includes several parts that relate to clearly defined matters:
CV summary. As we have mentioned before, one of the most important things that a vita should have to be successful is to catch the recruiter’s attention immediately. In the summary, you should paint a highly favourable picture of you and indicate your strengths which are relevant to the position you are applying for. Of course, this summary must be short, of no more than four or five lines of text, where you should highlight your key skills and attributes.
Major Achievements. In this part you should list three to six major achievements that must be directly related to the job you are applying for. You should analyse what the company is really looking for, and make them be sure that you are what they need.
Work experience (in case you have any). You should describe your previous positions, giving details of your responsibilities, skills attained and achievements in each of them. They have to be always in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. You should also concentrate more on your two most recent jobs, unless you think they are not relevant to the position you apply for or if they may show aspects you do not want to be known.
Education / Qualification. A list should be made, with all the educational details, dealing from the primary school until the most recent studies. You should give qualifications of secondary studies and university student record if required.
IT Skills / Training / Other skills. You should list your up-to-date IT skills, training and other skills such as language skills and typing speeds if relevant. IT skills has to do with everything related to computing knowledge, such as operating systems Windows 2000, XP), applications (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint), etc.
Personal Details. This should include your date of birth rather than age, driving licence if relevant, and other personal details that should be relevant (name and address, DNI, email, contact phone, etc.). Details such as marital status and nationality are optional.
Hobbies / Interests. They are not considered very important on a CV; however, they may show a some kind of extra information of your personal life that could be interesting for the recruiter.
References. Although there are some patterns of CV creation that do include references, these references do not generally need to be include on a vita unless you are specifically asked for.
This is the pattern followed by the prestigious company of Paul Bradley and we would like to finish giving you an advice with his own words: “You will have to devote a fair amount of time to writing and producing an interview-winning CV. But, once it is finished you will have a CV that will really make an employer sit up and take notice of you and invite you to that all-important job interview!”