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Curriculum Vitae Resources

General information for writing a CV

SOUPHUB – Constructing a Resume:

Everybody needs a current resume close at hand. You never know when a great opportunity might arise, and it’s good to be ready.

Presentation and Format Hardly any resumes are printed and sent in the post these days, so – unless a posted application is specifically required – don’t bother shopping for 100% cotton fibre watermarked parchment.

Pay attention to submission requirements. Most organisations are happy with simple documents created in Word and saved as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file. To retain your formatting and fonts, you could save your resume as a PDF; but first make sure PDFs are accepted. Otherwise, use a standard font and keep images out.

Increasingly, larger organisations are using electronic application tracking systems. Resumes are also commonly distributed internally, emailed and photocopied. This means that a simple, plain resume layout is preferred.

Personal details Don't waste time with a cover sheet. List your name and contact details at the top of the first page, including your address (suburb and state is fine) and a telephone contact number. Include your email address only if it is private and you can check for incoming messages at least once a day. As a general rule, don't include your work number unless you have a private office where you can take a phone call without being overheard.

Using a mobile number is a good idea, but make sure that you’re able to take incoming calls. If you might miss the call, make sure your voicemail message is appropriately professional.

It is no longer usual to include details under headings such as gender, age, marital status, religion, ethnicity or health. Some experts strongly counsel against including these details. It can make your resume look dated and this personal information is not relevant to your ability to do the job. If any of the factors are relevant and an employer has an exemption to discriminate on these grounds, mention the appropriate information in your cover letter.

Career objective Differences of opinion exist about including a career objective. Some experts dislike them, viewing them as an Americanism, clichéd or adding no value. If you do use one, expect to rewrite it, even slightly, to match each job you apply for. Three sample career objectives: • Accountant An accounting position in a blue-chip media/entertainment company. Long-term plans are to advance into a management position with responsibility for financial functioning of the firm. • Graphic designer To obtain an entry-level position as a graphic designer that will utilise my creative and organisational skills and will provide an intense learning experience. • Retail manager To become a store manager in a national retail chain with opportunities to advance to state sales management.

Professional experience The best resumes are brief and informative, so every word in this section must work hard for you. As a general rule, include more details about your current job, and less details the older the job. If you've been in the workforce for some period of time, simply list the position, company and dates of your earlier or least relevant jobs. You are not obliged to list every job you've ever had, but you should highlight relevant experience whenever it occurred.

A tactic for older job seekers is to only list jobs since, say, 2000. If possible, illustrate career development in your resume. If you have "downsized" your career or moved sideways, you may wish to include a brief reference to the circumstances that motivated your move. For instance, "By accepting a less senior position, I was able to accommodate part-time graduate study. In this role, I..."

"The best resumes are brief and informative"

Company and title Make a decision about whether the companies you have worked for are more important than the job titles. The most important information should go first, followed by the job title on a new line. Stay consistent, though, to allow for quick scanning and comprehension.

Job summary Don't just describe your duties and responsibilities. Emphasise your achievements and show how you contributed to your employer's business. Carefully consider how you can quantify your goals and achievements.

As an example: "Transformed an inefficient call centre with low morale into an organised, lean and quality focused organisation, increasing revenue by 12 per cent, decreasing costs by 20 per cent and decreasing staff turnover by 25 per cent."

In some cases there won't be a quantitative measure of your achievements. Find other ways to show your contribution. For example:

"Conducted a production inventory and calculated costs as a consultant to a national retailer; findings led to a shift in the purchasing strategy"

There may not have been a problem in the first place. You did however initiate an action and get a result.

"As a self-employed contractor, set up databases for organisations that led to increased productivity for account managers."

Education The level of detail depends on the balance between your qualifications and your work experience. It may be suitable for school leavers and graduates with little experience to list selected classes and to include results if these are better than average (or requested). Don’t just list everything you did at high school.

As a general guide, the less recent your qualification, the less information you provide. A typical format lists the name of the qualification, the date you graduated, the institution which granted it and your major. For example:

BA, 2006, Victoria University of Wellington Major: History

Add the name of any scholarships or awards you have won to the second line. If you are partway through a qualification, list it like this: Graduate Diploma in Public Relations (RMIT) study commenced 2009

Begin with the highest level of educational achievement. You can leave out details about high school if you have a higher degree or qualification.

The education section usually follows the employment details unless you are recently graduated or you are pursuing an academic position where your educational achievements are more relevant.

"A new employer generally won't contact referees until they have selected a preferred candidate — or if they are trying to decide between two candidates."

References and referees It is increasingly uncommon for past employers to provide written references. Instead, a new employer will want the names and contact details of referees — people who know you well and can be contacted to check the details in your resume.

Choose your referees carefully. You must gain someone's agreement before listing them as a referee. A new employer generally won't contact referees until they have selected a preferred candidate — or if they are trying to decide between two candidates.

Consider not including details of your referees on your resume. Instead, under a heading "Referees", note that referees are available on request. Once you have been interviewed you can offer details of referees. It is a courtesy to advise referees that they may be contacted. It is also a valuable opportunity to tell them briefly about the position, what it involves and to gently remind them of your relevant skills.

Sometimes a job advertisement or position description will specifically ask for the names of referees to be included with your application. In such cases, of course, include them.