Friday, June 19, 2009

Building a Winning CV

Stop by Career Management, across from Harvey Mudd on Dartmouth,
and say hi to Jackee Engles!

At our recent meeting, Jackee McNitt Engles, Assistant Director of the CGU Office of Career Management, was kind enough to share her knowledge about curriculum vitae development. She even brought each of us a wonderful booklet, Building a Professional CV, to use for future reference.

CVs are much longer than resumes, tending toward completeness rather than being concise. It is acceptable for your CV to be as long as it takes to highlight everything relevant to the position. Name dropping is acceptable in CVs when it is relevant.

CVs have a very flexible format, although education is always listed first. CVs contain many more categories than resumes. List categories in order of importance, then use reverse chronology within each category. How you construct your CV says something about your personality. Regardless of how you construct yours, make sure that it is clean, consistent, and readable. Katie mentioned that she has a master CV that she tailors to each job. Jackee said this was a great idea.

The "heart and soul" of a CV is the accomplishment statement. This differs from a job description because it gives you the opportunity to describe what you actually did, rather than what the job required. It is extremely important to quantify your experience in terms of scope and results. The group took turns writing sample accomplishment statements. For example: "Increased sales 50% in the first year of business."

Jackee reminded us that your CV is one tool in your job search arsenal. By far the most important tool will be your personal contacts.

She recommended that if you use a portfolio, it would be appropriate to take it to an interview, but for the application it is better to post it on a website and list the link to it on your CV.

Jackee also told us about a service called interfolio, which applicants can use (for a fee) to store, manage, and send electronic and print files.

Is there anything I should leave off of my CV? Definitely leave off information that is illegal to ask. For example, leave out information about your marital status or age. There's a reason these questions are illegal. People do have biases. Typically, you would also leave out hobbies and personal information, but there is the exception to the rule - in some cases it makes sense to add them. And if you have volunteer work, definitely add that under a separate heading for volunteer work.

How far back should a CV go? CVs can go back forever if relevant, but at least ten years.

What font should I use for my CV? 12 point is ideal; 11 is the smallest. Any font that is standard in emailed documents will work, such as Times New Roman, Arial, and Garamond.

How should I send a paper version of my CV? Paperclip pages together and put a running header with your name, email, and phone number on each page except the first one.

How do you ask for an informational interview? Call the person and say that (your contact person's name) suggested that I call you. Ask for 15 minutes of the person's time, although it would be extremely rare for the informational interview to limit it to 15 minutes.

What if you aren't sure of your exact quantifications (in your accomplishment statements)? You need to feel comfortable with what you have written. If you aren't it will show in an interview. If you are not sure of your exact numbers, use qualifier words like "approximately" in your statemtents.

What additional services does your office offer? I thought you would never ask. Page 15 (of the booklet) lists our additional services, as does our website Also, in my office I have a list of 500 alumni in various fields who are willing to conduct informational interviews.


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