Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is a resume/C.V.?
Question 2: What should I include in a resume/CV?
Question 3: What is the difference between a resume/CV and an application form?
Question 4: What should I do before writing your resume/CV?
Question 5: I am not an English speaking person, I have lived and been brought up in a non-English speaking environment, how do I explain my particular background?
Question 6: Can I translate my CV from French to English?
Question 7: What do I do after writing my resume/CV?
Question 8: What is a cover(ing) letter?
Question 9: What is the difference between an internship and a placement?

1. What is a resume / CV?

A resume(US)/ CV(UK) is a culturally-specific, conventional, type of written text sent to a prospective employer to obtain an interview for a particular job in a particular company. It can be considered as a kind of advertisement for yourself. It is a summary of your personal details, education and career history. It should show your history, achievements, skills, abilities, knowledge, know-how, competence,and experiences often in reverse chronological order. The purpose of this text is to attract an employer’s attention, gain his/her approval to make him/her select you for an interview and ultimately an internship or a job! It also shows your personality; through the resume/CV you project an image of yourself. As is the case with any text you should respect a particular, conventinal format (See Part II.) It should be typed, never handwritten (unless specifically requested). Besides the resume and CV, there are many styles such as: the international CV, a European CV and a scannable CV or an electronic CV.

However, content, style and layout are basically the same.

There is no one single recipe to write a resume/CV. It is personal and aims at one particular employer or job position.
You decide what skills or knowledge you want to show about yourself. You obviously want to show the best side of yourself, and not include anything negative. A resume/CV, therefore, is not objective. Since no two people are exactly alike, even if they have more or less had the same background, each resume/CV should be unique. As you change, think of updating your CV accordingly.

2. What should I include in a resume/CV?

You want to show that you have the necessary experiences, skills, knowledge, and qualities for a particular position and which are advantageous to a company. Be selective and do not include irrelevant information. Basic information to include is: personal details, job objective, education, professional experience, computer skills, language skills, extracurricular activities and references (usually in that order).

Be modest. Never invent details. An employer will find you out. For example, do not say you are fluent in English unless you really are. However, you may slightly exaggerate the truth but still be careful as you may have to prove what you say. Don't forget you are a student. An employer will have a rough idea what that means. He or she will not expect you to be proficient in English or to be a professional in computer networks. There are ways of expressing your qualities and qualifying them: e.g. good background in, strong basis in, first-hand experience in. More examples can be found in the pages concerning work related lexis. Be prepared to fill in an application form if necessary!

3. What is the difference between a resume/CV and an application form?

An application form is a pre-established form in which an employer asks you to fill in information under specific headings (which are similar to those found on a resume/CV) in a specific standardized format. The reasons being, to make sure all applicants give the same information and to have the information in one format. Check the company website as applications forms are sometimes downloadable.
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4. What should you do before writing your resume/CV?

To carefully think about yourself. Here are some questions you need to ask before you write: Before you write, you should also do some research on the company you are going to send your CV to. Find out as much as you can

5. I am not an English-speaking person, I have lived and been brought up in a non-English speaking environment, how do I explain my particular background?

This obviously should be considered as an advantage as cultural diversity in the widest sense brings different points of view, or attitudes together thus adding richness to the work environment, relations, and the search for solutions. Some experiences you may have had especially educational ones are culture or country specific, i.e. they do not exist elsewhere. In this case you will have to explain or paraphrase.

6. Can I translate my CV from French to English?

We would like to emphasize that the resume/CV is very culture based which implies that there is more to it than just putting words on paper. You have to show off your skills and there is a particular way, style and conventions of doing so. Do not try to translate your French C.V. word for word; you need to adapt it and rewrite it.

7. What do I do after writing my resume/CV?

You should proofread carefully several times. Ask several people look at your resume to get different opinions about it. Have it checked by a language teacher (for other teachers see the coordination page of the main site). When you think it is good, you can send it, along with a cover(ing) letter; today, it is acceptable to e-mail it. You will probably be asked to send a paper copy as well. If necessary, fax it but don't forget fax quality is not very good.

8. What is a cover(ing) letter?

A cover letter (US) and a covering letter (UK) is a letter that you send along with your resume/CV. In it, as we will see later you draw attention to your skills and talents and try to arrange an interview. As a general rule it should always be typed, never handwritten (unless specifically stated to handwrite it). Examples

9. What is the difference between a placement and an internship?

(Industrial/graduate) Placement is British English and internship American and mean a short term job to enable a student or anyone to gain work experience. Employ the vocabulary that the company uses to avoid any misunderstanding.

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