Recipe for a CV or Resume – how to cook yours

December 18, 2014

Recently, I fed 3 questions to the Google search beast. Here they are including the stunning numbers of hits I found:

How to write a resume (115,000,000 hits)

How to write a curriculum vitae (10,900,000 hits)

How to write a CV (22,000,000 hits).

Wow! I know it is December and I know that many of us have some time to spare to do some reading during the Holiday Season. But, seriously, if you want to catch up reading only 1% of these hits, you’re looking at a minimum staggering number of 109,000 hits. How much time would that take? Well, I don’t want to know. I’ve got a better idea instead. Around Christmas, many people spent time in the kitchen to produce delicious Christmas Dinners. Other people spend some time to polish their resumes or curricula vitae because, for example, they are contemplating a next career move early next year. So, let me then give you a recipe for –without the use of a stove or oven – cooking your curriculum vitae or your resume. Of course, the people busy in the kitchen can join later.  I will describe the ingredients you need to use and provide a couple of preparation tips. The rest is up to you.

So, what goes into a good curriculum vitae or resume? The main ingredients are personal information, a summary, work experience, education, languages and skills. In the personal information section you include your full name, a telephone number (not your business phone number), your personal email address, the URL to your LinkedIn profile and, if you like, your home address. Your summary highlights what you have to offer (your unique selling points) to an employer in 3-5 lines – rather than an objective that specifies what you want because that is not what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. Your work experience is written preferably in reverse chronological order. Be sure to include brief descriptions about the companies you worked for including some numbers like total number of employees and total sales as this gives an idea about the size of the company and the industries you have worked in. A brief description of your responsibilities and a list of your top 2-5 results or achievements (a bulleted list) should be added. Make sure you use keywords that are appropriate. Show some numbers there as well that, for instance, illustrate savings in money and or time, sales increase, increase in production etc.etc. In your descriptions, use short, crisp sentences instead of elaborate descriptions or blocks of text. Your education should also be listed in reverse chronological order. The language section lists the languages you speak, read and write including a “level” such as fair, average, fluent, native speaker etc. The skills section describes particular skills you may have such as computer skills or other skills that could be relevant for the job you are applying for. Is that it? Yes, that’s it. Content is still the most important flavor you want to focus on.

Ah, but what about adding some extra spices, you ask? Hmm, don’t spoil your dish. So in any case leave out “references provided upon request” (you can provide them when asked for, not sooner), leave out your hobbies (unless there is relevance for the position you are applying for), leave out images or pictures and tables (they are not relevant and an applicant tracking system that parses your CV or resume can choke on it), leave out colors and non-standard fonts (black and white is what you want, and use generally accepted fonts like Arial, Tahoma or Calibri for instance).

So, how many people should your CV or resume dish feed? Well, a 1 page resume is fine as long as you don’t cram everything on that single page so that the reader has to pull out a magnifying glass to read the small font you used. Two pages is equally fine! As for a curriculum vitae, 2-3 pages is ok. Using white space helps the reader of your resume or CV to quickly scan and focus on the sections of interest. To finish it, meticulously check for spelling and grammar errors and correct them. Happy cooking!