Writing Your Curriculum Vitae

 

Your CV is your foot in the door

Your curriculum vitae (or ‘resume’, in the US), is where you make your first impression on a potential employer. It is the primary screening mechanism that companies will use to determine whether or not they will invite you to interview. It is therefore crucial to invest the time necessary to write a polished and coherent narrative of your experience and achievements – academic, professional and extracurricular. Here are a few things to consider when writing your CV.

 

LENGTH

Recruiters often spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a CV, especially in larger organizations that receive a substantial number of applications for open positions. The rule of thumb for the length of a CV in Europe is a maximum of two pages. In the US, resumes are typically one page long. There are of course exceptions to this, but as an undergraduate student with limited professional experience it is a good idea to stay within these limits.

 

What Your CV Should include

Your CV should include the following sections:

  • Education: This is a summary of your academic endeavors to date, starting with the most recent and working backwards from there. Make sure to include ongoing studies, not just courses you have completed. Highlight your grades, relevant coursework (e.g. quantitative classes) and any awards or scholarships that you have received. Do not go back earlier than secondary school, unless you achieved something spectacular in primary school!
  • Experience: An outline of all relevant work experience, including any unpaid vacation schemes, and internships. Make sure to highlight what YOUR responsibilities were using action words (e.g. “Developed and implemented strategy to move office administrative functions to a digital platform”). If possible, quantify the impact you had (e.g. “Conducted market research across 5 countries to help identify $20m cost savings for a multinational industrial conglomerate”). Keep your sentences short and to the point.
  • Extra-curricular: Here you should list any other leadership or group activities you have undertaken. This can include volunteering, sports, student organizations or  government. Organizations like to see that you work well with other people and can succeed in different situations.

 

It is absolutely essential that:

Before submitting, make sure that you ask someone else to review your CV to double check for typos or grammatical mistakes that you may have overlooked. Typos are a very easy way for recruiters to reject a candidate.

 


 

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Cover Letter Tips
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Crafting your Cover Letter

 

Your cover letter should usually be no longer than a page.

Recruiters will evaluate your cover letter in conjunction with the CV, so it should bring the information in your CV to life, and connect it to the job description. 

 

Your cover letter should answer 3 questions:

  1. Who are you? your current status, relevant experience and interests

  2. Why you are interested in the company? what impresses you about what they do

  3. Why the company should hire you – essentially combining (i) and (ii) and explaining why you are suitable for the role - how you would add value, the skillsets you have developed, why you would be a good fit to the organization.

 

Just Like With Your CVs

As with your CVs, ask someone to read your cover letter to check for typos and grammatical errors. Often when you have been working on a document you no longer see your mistakes, and spelling and grammatical errors are the easiest way for a recruiter to eliminate an applicant at the start of the recruitment process.

 

And Crucially...

Finally, you should tailor each cover letter to the organization and the role you are applying to. It is not good enough to copy and paste, and change some names. Experienced recruiters can spot these types of cover letters. Worse still – it is very easy to accidentally copy and paste the wrong company name. For example, a Morgan Stanley recruiter receiving a letter addressed to JP Morgan will be unlikely to excuse this error. It happens more often than you would think!

 


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