How To Write The Perfect CV From Scratch

How To Write The Perfect CV From Scratch

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How To Write The Perfect CV From Scratch

 

When applying for an internship, a CV (or resume) is the first impression you give your future employer. Therefore, you need to make sure it is perfectly formatted, with no errors, and makes your achievements and qualifications stand out from the crowd. Writing a CV from scratch can be time consuming and daunting, especially with no distinct guidelines. There are many different ways to compose a CV, and different countries may have different requirements, so be sure to double-check that your CV follows these rules. In this article, we will go through, step-by-step and with examples, all the general key ingredients of a great CV. Let's get started.


1. Contact Information

The first step is easy. You'll need to write a concise header for your resume, including your name, contact details, and address(es). You can choose any format that you think looks professional - have a look through Google for some examples of sample interns.

To give you a general idea of a formal, clean-looking format for your header, we have created a mock CV for a 'Paul Flamingo' below:

  • Use a simple font. Write in size 10 (give or take), and use the same font in a slightly larger size for your name. Most CVs display the candidate's name in bold with the email address underlined.
  • Make sure that your address and phone number are formatted correctly. Different countries have different standards for this, so check with someone or online if you are unsure.
  • Make sure you use your formal (work or university) email address. Potential employers won't see the professionalism in an email address like iluvprincewilliam@yahoo.com.
  • Insert a line break to distinguish your contact information from the body of your resume.
  • CVs come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most important considerations to bear in mind as you write the header (as well as the body of your CV) is consistency throughout the document, especially with regards to format, alignments, font, and bullet point styles.


2. Education Details

Next, you'll have to write out your educational history. This is where it gets slightly trickier, as there are a few variables to keep in mind.

  • After the contact details, each section of your resume should include a centered title, usually in bold, and in CAPITALS. (As mentioned earlier, these are guidelines only - it doesn't really matter what format you use for each section, as long as it is clear, formal and consistent throughout the document.)
  • List every educational institution you have attended in the recent past, in reverse chronological order.
  • Distinguish the institutions' names, for example by writing them in bold, and then specify their locations. Very specific addresses are not needed.
  • On the right hand side of the page, write the year (and month, if applicable) that you graduated from each respective institution. If you have not yet graduated, write something along the lines of 'To Graduate June 2014'.
  • Under your most recent academic institution, list no more than four or five courses that are relevant to your prospective career(s). For example, from this resume, it is immediately obvious that Paul Flamingo is well qualified in the confectionary business. It is also clear that he is well prepared for an internship in China specifically. If you choose to apply for an internship in China or another country abroad, make sure that you emphasize your interest in China on your resume.
  • Include a concise description of any awards or honors you attained at any of your institutions.
  • There shouldn't be any excess information that distracts from your specific qualifications. Like everything else on your resume, the education section needs to be concise and succinct.
  • Do not include your entire educational history - your potential employer is not interested in where you went to kindergarten.
  • Do not list grades for every school or university; pick the ones you're most proud of and include those.
  • NEVER lie about your grades, or ANY other information on your CV. This can get you in serious trouble.

3. Experience

In this section, you'll write all about the work experience, or any other kind of experience, that is relevant to your internship application.

  • Include jobs or internships that you've held that relate to the position you are seeking. Be sure to format each job in a similar manner to your Education section. For example, 'Paul Flamingo' wrote his educational institutions in bold with dates aligned on the right. So, his past places of employment are written in the same way.
  • After each company, include the position you held. (e.g. 'Shop Assistant' or 'Intern')
  • Include a very brief, one-sentence explanation of what each company does.
  • Next, write one or more bullet points explaining exactly what you did. Use professional terminology. If your job description included many different tasks, include the ones that were most meaningful to you, and look most impressive to potential employers. If you spent 70% of your time as an intern sharpening pencils, it's best to omit that, and focus on the more educational, rewarding work that you did!

N.B.: After finishing your relevant experience section, you may or may not want to add another section titled 'Other Experience', including other jobs that you've held, which are not necessarily pertinent to the position you're applying for. For example, if you spent a summer babysitting in order to raise money to come to China, you should include that. It shows your employer that you are responsible, independent, ambitious and forward thinking.
You should use your common sense on what's best to write in the 'Other Experience' section. If it was a meaningful experience for you, you should include it. It will give you talking points for your interview, and shows that you have interests outside of your chosen field of study/work. Use the exact same format as you did for the work experience part of your CV.

4. Activities

This is the part of your resume where you can let your personality show. It gives the employer an idea of what you get up to outside of the classroom or office, and reveals your hobbies and general interests.

  • List activities in order of importance to you. Paul Flamingo founded his own Cheese Appreciation Society, so it is right that he wrote that first, as it demonstrates his leadership and organizational skills as well as his personal interests.
  • As always, write the title of the activity in bold, your position in italics, and include the dates on the right hand side of the page in bold too.
  • In a similar way to your work experience, include a bullet point or two outlining your role in the organization.

5. Skills

This is normally just a brief list of skills you possess which could be helpful to your potential employer.

  • Only include skills that you actually possess, and those that you are confident in your ability to demonstrate.
  • You can include things like technical skills, languages, leadership skills, organizational skills, or anything else that you think is relevant and important.
  • Here, you don't need to explain what each skill entails; most people nowadays know what PowerPoint is.

 

So that's it! You have now completed your CV and are ready to send off those applications. But before you do, here are some parting pearls of wisdom...

  • Make sure your font and format is completely consistent throughout your CV, with everything aligned perfectly.
  • Make sure your CV fills up an entire A4 page, no more and no less. Change the font size accordingly.
  • Never refer to yourself in the first person.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Poor spelling and grammatical errors are hugely off-putting.
  • Update your CV regularly.
  • Do not include irrelevant information or overly detailed descriptions.
  • Never lie or exaggerate on your CV.

Good luck!

Sasha Small
Marketing Assistant

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