Resume Tips

If you’ve ever applied to dozens of jobs without hearing back from a single one, here’s something that may provide some comfort: first, you’re not alone; and second, there may be something very simple you can do to increase your chances next time.

Stories of universities in Seoul receiving hundreds of applications for a single English instructor position aren’t uncommon, and even that doesn’t compare to the level of competition for certain elusive positions at companies such as Samsung. And an unfortunate fact is, most resumes are tossed out after only a matter of seconds.

So, what does it take to get your application past that most important first hurdle? While it may seem obvious, I’ve seen plenty of highly talented candidates totally fail to grasp the importance of the two crucial aspects of a proper resume: presentation and content.

Presentation is the more often ignored aspect, since it’s not your responsibility as an applicant to sift through hundreds of resumes when you’d rather be hanging out at Starbucks rocking out to Gangnam Style on your Samsung Galaxy. But whoever is looking at your CV, be it a recruiter or hiring manager, needs to be drawn to the important information right away. This is even more important when the person reading your resume is not a native English speaker, since they will be even less likely to read every word.

So, how do we make our resume presentable? The following tips are important to keep in mind:

- Use bold, italics, and capital letters as appropriate to highlight section names and important information such as professional qualifications.

- Use proper spacing in order to improve readability – white space is good. You may want to use a different font size or type for your section headings. Proper formatting goes a long way.

- Avoid writing paragraphs or long sentences; sentence fragments and lists are fine. You can always submit a writing sample later.

- Keep it to 1 page, 2 at an absolute maximum. Anything longer is just a distraction.

- Follow standard guidelines, such as listing experience and education in reverse chronological order (most recent stuff first).

Now, let’s talk a little about content, or what we put on our CV. Now that you’ve made your resume presentable, you need to decide what needs to go on there.

While everyone’s background will be different, there are a few standard sections: education, experience, and skills/professional qualifications. If you’re a recent graduate or feel that your academic background is your biggest asset, you may want to list education first; if you feel that your work experience is your biggest selling point, then go ahead and put that first.

Under education, start with your most recent degree obtained (or expected, if you’re currently in school). List the degree name (BA, MS, MBA, PhD) followed by your major(s), the school name and location, and any honors you may have received (such as magna cum laude). If you want to list your GPA, that is acceptable to put as well.

Under work experience, you don’t have to list every position you’ve ever held since high school. Stick to the relevant ones for the position, although if there is a significant gap (for example, two years where you didn’t work and you weren’t in school), you may be asked about that. List the position(s) you held with that employer, as well as the employer’s name and location. Briefly mention the skills you developed as well as highlights of your job responsibilities.

The skills/professional qualifications section gives you the opportunity to really distinguish yourself. Don’t exaggerate, but be sure to give yourself credit where it’s due. Clearly, for English teaching any ESL certifications such as CELTA will help set you apart. If you’re a licensed attorney or accountant, obviously that should be something you mention (even if you’re applying for a teaching position – that would definitely be an attention-grabber). Computer skills are valuable almost anywhere, so go ahead and list any proficiency you have with Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel, or any programming languages or web design skills – who knows if that ends up being a selling point? Foreign language skills are something else to list, but be honest about your level. Use qualifiers such as native/fluent/conversational/beginner.

Finally, feel free to add any other information that may be relevant. If you have research experience or publications, that should be noted. Many applicants include a personal/interests section to give their CV more of a personal touch – if the person reading your resume shares your interests, they might be more inclined to want to get to know you.

Following the above guidelines will help you craft a resume that is both aesthetically pleasing and highlights your best characteristics. But to give just a little more help, you can click the below link to download the resume template that Harvard Business School provides to its students:


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