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A Curriculum Vitae, or CV, summarizes a person's academic and work history. CVs contain the time frame and descriptions of current and past jobs. Academic history includes schools that a person attended and degrees they received. Because the purpose of a CV or a resume is to get a job interview, it is paramount to have an error free, effective CV. Ones that are messy or contain errors will usually be discarded.
Check and Recheck
Review your CV frequently as you create it to make sure it does not contain errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation. Spell check will find most, but not all spelling errors. A good CV will be polished and professional using correct grammar. Watch out for mistakes in punctuation particularly with apostrophes. Check for common mistakes such as using terms like "result's-oriented person" as opposed to the correct "results-oriented person." Check for consistency throughout your CV. Make sure you are using all the same fonts and they are all the same size. Be consistent if you bold or italicize certain places on your CV as well.
If your CV contains format issues or errors, recruiters or hiring managers may discard it before they even read it. Make sure your CV contains correct formatting. A good template rule to follow is for a proper CV to state an objective or summary of skills followed by your work history and experience. List job responsibilities briefly for the job you hold now and jobs you had in the past. Education usually follows work history and here is where you would briefly state the schools you attended, degrees and honors you received.
After describing your work experience and education, a good CV may include any achievements earned or relevant volunteer experiences. If you have an online portfolio, include a link to it. If you have room, add references to the bottom of your CV; however, do not clutter up the page with too many. You can always include a link to your references on a LinkedIn page or other networking site.
A good CV will include keywords that make it accessible to recruiters who are using electronic databases. Often, recruiters will simply enter words that fit a certain job description into the database and do a search for those words. If your CV has those keywords, it will likely be reviewed by the recruiter. Include keywords that are relevant to particular jobs you are applying for into your objective or summary of skills statement. If you are applying for an accounting job, use keywords such as Billing Management or Accounts Receivable Management. Couple the specific keywords with actionable keywords such as "demonstrate," "resolve" or "reduce." Strong, actionable keywords will jump out at recruiters or hiring managers and make your CV stand out.
Based in Richmond, Va., Susan Ayers is a senior learning associate for a financial organization. She previously developed web-based training for Circuit City and spent a number of years creating eLearning courses for a not-for-profit law enforcement organization. Ayers graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a master's in education from St. Joseph's College.