PromoLingua's Guide to Writing a Great CV
You probably don't need us to tell you how important a good CV (Curriculum Vitae) is to the chances of your success in the multilingual job market. It is your first opportunity to make a good impression and sell you and your set of skills to a potential employer.
PromoLingua's advice on writing a great CV (or resume in the US) is based on our experience of getting many candidates like you through this first hurdle.
Before you start writing
Spend a little time thinking about your skills, experience and achievements. We find some candidates don't always remember some of their strongest points. Secondly consider what potential employers are looking for in terms of skills, achievements and personal traits. Try to match up what you have done with what they might need because it will help you to choose the right CV material and set you up for the interview stage too.
What is a CV for?
Your CV is a marketing document that should persuade employers that you have the core set of qualifications, skills and attributes required to do the job.
For multilingual and bilingual jobs your CV must be able to demonstrate appropriate proficiency in the languages required. This is why up-to-date qualifications are so important.
How should your CV be presented?
We recommend that you stick to 2 sides of white A4 paper. Choose a clear typeface (e.g. Times New Roman or Arial) at 12pt font size in black. Use the spell checker in your word processor to catch basic errors. Our strong suggestion is that you get a friend or relative to proofread the document for you.
Microsoft Word is probably the de facto word processor format. Not everybody has the latest version. Consider saving the document in Word 2003 or rich text format to ensure other people can read it if you send the document by email.
What structure should your CV have?
A good logical structure is to have five sections comprising the following headings; personal details, education and qualifications, work experience, language skills and then interests and achievements.
Include your name, address, nationality and marital status. Think about which phone, mobile phone and email address details you provide so that you maintain contactability without comprising confidentiality.
It may be appropriate to note your country location preferences and mobility.
A personal profile is a short "teaser" that outlines the specific skills and experience that make you the ideal person for the job. Your profile can also highlight your objectives for applying for a particular position and a particular organisation. Remember to be honest and to provide evidence where possible. Avoid jargon and buzzwords because they will completely devalue what you have written.
Education and qualifications
It is usual to start with the most recent first, listing the establishment attended, the exam or qualification taken and the grade achieved. If you have taken a number of exams at the same time then think about the priority of the list. Is the key language qualification at the top? Unless you are a school leaver you won't need to mention GCSEs. Always explain any gaps in the timeline and be completely honest about your results.
In most circumstances your current job will be most relevant to the position being applied for. Start with this position and devote the most space to it. Use bullet points to be concise and focus on achievements and outcomes, showing how your input was responsible for achieving success. Work backwards with the rest of your employment history providing precise dates and explaining any gaps in the timeline.
Provide details of all of your language skills and your level of fluency. Try to provide evidence of your fluency and remember to include your mother tongue as well as languages that you have learned.
Interests and achievements
If there are a lot of equal candidates then employers may review this section to understand if you display any personal characteristics that differentiate you. Remember what you thought about before you started writing your CV and see what things you have done match this particular job or organisation. Participation in activities such as Young Enterprise or doing voluntary work are often seen in a good light.
It is common to provide details of your last two employers as referees. Graduates can provide an academic referee. It is a good idea to get approval from people before adding their details.
A CV for every job
Each job that you apply for is different. So each job deserves a CV tailored to match your strengths and capabilities to the requirements of the role. This means emphasising different aspects of your personal profile, your work experience or your interests to suit the position and the company.
PromoLingua are always available to offer specific advice on CVs. Call or email if you want to talk about the development of your CV or send a copy for us to review and provide feedback.