Curriculum vitae is a Latin term meaning “path of life”. Its primary purpose is to reveal to the employer who you are and what your skills are. A resume is your business card, a summary of your career and education that is given to an employer for the purpose of getting a job interview. It is a marketing tool designed to arouse enough interest and curiosity to prompt the reader to call or interview you.
Did you know that one-third of executives spend no more than a minute reading your resume? Because resumes are reviewed quickly, it is essential that they be brief, flawless and relevant. So it’s important to say just enough to arouse interest and encourage the person reading it to learn more. A good résumé is straight to the point and does not include information that is not relevant to the job being applied for. In addition, it does not include any personal information that has nothing to do with the position: age, date of birth, marital status, driver’s license number, etc.
Finally, a good résumé is catchy, original and encourages the employer to meet with you to find out more.
Developing your resume
Step 1: Taking stock of your achievements
In a way, you should take stock of your achievements in the various spheres of your occupation and interests: education, work experience, volunteer work, special qualifications, interests, promotion, honorary awards, in short, everything you have accomplished that may be of interest to an employer. Write down what comes to mind, don’t put markers on yourself.
Step 2: Career goals
At this stage, it is important to define your career goal, which will allow you to sort through the information collected. Your career goal should tell the employer what you aspire to as a career objective. It should be a two- or three-line statement that also expresses what you want to develop in order to achieve it.
When formulating your goal, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I want to do?
- For whom and with whom do I want to work?
- What level of responsibility?
For example, a teacher might ask herself:
- What do I want to do? Teach
- Where? In a public school.
- Whose? Autistic children
- What level of responsibility? Class holder
Its objective could then read as follows:
- With a university degree in elementary education, I would like to obtain a position as a class teacher of autistic children in a public school in order to improve my knowledge in this particular field.
- Your goal should not be too general, otherwise it will not be of interest to the reader. When reading it, the employer must clearly understand your goals. If you don’t, avoid writing one, as it could be more detrimental to you.
Once you have formulated your objective, select the information listed beforehand. Eliminate the elements that do not seem relevant and keep those that are directly related and can help you achieve your career goal. For example, if you want to work as a clerical worker, try to group the elements of your assessment that relate to that field and do not include those that are not relevant, such as a massage therapy course. It may be, and in fact it is preferable, that you have to prepare more than one version of your résumé. By creating a résumé that is targeted and adapted to the job you are applying for, you highlight your level of skills and experience directly related to the position.
Consider the following example:
Martine is a psychologist with extensive experience in working with children with Down syndrome and women suffering from alcoholism. She learns from a colleague that the high school where she works is looking for a child psychologist. Martine also wants to apply for a job in a detoxification centre. In order to demonstrate more precisely to the employer that she has the appropriate experience, Martine decides to adapt her resume to each job application. For the position at the school, she will put in
The following is a summary of his experience gained during his internships and his volunteer involvement at the Children’s Hospital. In the other case, she will rely more on her experience as a worker with alcoholic women and her involvement in the group
of Alcoholics Anonymous. She will not forget to mention that she is conducting scientific research on the adaptability of adults under intense stress, because she knows that the employer is looking for a candidate with good analytical skills.
By personalizing your resume to suit each job offer, you will increase your chances of targeting the information that will interest the employer and delivering a precise and succinct resume. On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of experience, it will be difficult to adapt it each time, so opt for a resume containing more general information.
Under the heading Career Objective, it is interesting to find a summary of your experience. In two or three lines the employer can get an idea of your profile.
With more than 10 years of experience in the field of human resources management, I specialize in staffing, more specifically in the development of competency profiles and personnel selection.
In this way, the employer will have a global idea of your experience and will be willing to continue reading your C.V. Once again, know how to match your skills with the job offer in question.
Step 3: Resume Forms
The next step is to write your resume. There are a number of different ways to submit your resume. Here are three examples.
In this form, the information is placed in chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest. You can afford to use this format if your experience is fairly continuous and your job progress is fairly steady. The chronological resume allows you to focus on the most recent experience and the progressive evolution of job levels. However, this format is not appropriate if you have had a succession of short and disparate jobs, a fairly significant absence from the labour market, or you do not have a lot of experience.
This formula takes more account of skills and focuses on the functions successfully performed rather than on the succession of different jobs. Achievements and career paths are classified by field of experience or by sector of activity, regardless of chronological order. This highlights strengths and does not favour the historical aspect of the career. More difficult to write, it is however a very good tool for those who have been absent from the labour market or who do not have a lot of experience.
If you are looking to showcase your skills and work experience, the Mixed Curriculum Vitae combines the elements of the Chronological and Functional Curriculum Vitae.
Things to avoid in writing
Writing a curriculum vitae that is too long. Try to synthesize the information into a maximum of two or three pages. It is not uncommon for an employer to receive a hundred applications for a single position, so it is important that the résumé be clear and concise.
- Make spelling mistakes. Your resume is bound to end up in the garbage!
- Provide a reason for leaving your last job.
- Include information on age, gender, marital status, …
- Include a photo.
- Use a cover page.
- Opt for colour paper (unless you are in communications, marketing or the arts).
- Make changes to your resume by hand. If you have a correction to make, retype this information.
- Attach copies of letters of recommendation or transcripts. If you are invited to an interview, you can bring relevant documentation with you.
- Change dates to lie or hide things. If the employer finds out, you are certain you will not get a job.
- A little investigation…
More than two pages
- Coloured paper
- Typing, spelling and grammar errors
- Corrections made by hand
- Listing of past employment without interest
- Clear Exaggeration of Responsibilities
- Poor quality paper
- Photocopy of a photocopy
In conclusion, keep in mind that you will never spend too much time refining and updating your resume. Don’t hesitate to use a format adapted to your field: a graphic designer could, for example, use a more colourful CV to make you stand out from the other candidates.