A Few Critical Tips For Writing Your First Curriculum Vitae

Before you write your first Curriculum Vitae, you will need to know what are the basic components of a CV. You would need to draw up the skeleton of what you want it to project and then fill it in accordingly. A Curriculum Vitae would normally provide the following information:

  1. Personal information (name and coordinates)
  2. Professional Experience and achievements
  3. Educational qualification and skills acquired
  4. Personal information (other details)

A Curriculum Vitae should be able to give a clear picture on the following aspects:

  1. What do I want to convey (my career objective)?
  2. What are my core skill/competencies?
  3. What are my major achievements?
What do I want to convey

This question is put in the context of the job you are applying for. Hence, you should first think and decide about what career you want to embark upon and then state your objective/message accordingly. It would be helpful if the career you choose were a direct outcome of your vocational or non-vocational degree. Otherwise, you need to convince the employer that you have the right aptitude for the job proposed which might be a little more difficult.

You would need to put your message in the perspective of the job you are applying for. For this purpose, you would need to compile all the jobs you have completed successfully during your college, including those voluntary jobs you would have done for your community or any other body/organization.

What happens when the career option is not clear?

There could be the possibility that you are not clear yet on which career to embark upon; no need to panic, this is very normal for a person who is fresh out of the college. In this case, you would need to make a brief list, which would help you in your job search - and hence writing your Curriculum Vitae. Think carefully and then:

    1. list three to five traits you do not want to work with - for example you hate numbers, you hate selling, etc
    2. write down one or two industries where you want to work - for example, you love interacting with people - the hospitality industry, you love writing - journalism industry, etc
    3. list your best skills and achievements in the past that could prove you have the right aptitude for jobs in this particular industry
    4. meet a career counselor, who could further help you with your focus
What are your core competencies?

This is not as tough as you would think it to be. All you have to do is think of the industry you have chosen and look back into your life and come out with concrete examples where you showed clear aptitude and talent. For example, you could have worked as a part-time guide (hospitality industry), or been the editor of the college newspaper/ newsletter or copywriter for the elections advertisements campaigns, etc. In other words, everything that would prove to the reader that you could do the task needs to be listed here. This process is termed as converting soft skills into marketable skills. Remember that these skills need to be further classified as such:

    1. Organizational skills
    2. Managerial skills
    3. Technical skills, and so on for clarity and better focus
In addition to all of these, you could also mention any other skills that do not directly affect the job, but are relevant to improving your performance. For example, IT skills, international driving license, etc.

What are your major achievements?

Since you are student and have no real professional experience, your major achievements would be mostly in the field of academics. Make sure you highlight the best of such achievements in your Curriculum Vitae. You could also enter here any special projects or tasks you completed that have earned you accolades; you can also enter the certificates you won at competitions, etc. which further prove you an 'expert' in your area of competency.
Other critical things that your first Curriculum Vitae should have:

  1. Action words that represent what you have done/achieved
  2. Hobbies and extra-curricular interests only when these match or complement the job
  3. Clear formatting to make easy to scan - recruiters will give each Curriculum Vitae a maximum 10 seconds
  4. Neat typing - preferably laser printed - in a font that is easy on the eyes; avoid handwriting fonts as these are difficult to read fast
  5. Correct English, simple and short sentences (preferably in bullet points)
  6. Correct spelling and punctuation
  7. Correct contact information

You need to keep in mind that a Curriculum Vitae has to be tailor-made for each job you are applying. When you do so, you will need to tweak your core competencies/skills and achievements in such a way that these would complement the position you are applying for. This is a vital factor that most often marks the difference between success and failure in getting the interview call letter.