Curriculum vitae: the core of your applications | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

Curriculum vitae: the core of your applications


The core of your applications

Here we go again: in previous posts of this series we have discussed some of the requirements you will usually find while applying to grants and scholarships, a good example is our post on reference letters. Today we are going to talk about something completely different and essential for almost any kind of application: your curriculum vitae.

What is a Curriculum Vitae?

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) -also referred as résumé– is a document that contains an overview of your academic life, professional experience, as well as skills and qualifications that might be useful for your application (i.e. helping you getting a job, benefiting from a grant…)

Ultimately, the objective of your CV is for the judges to know your abilities, your knowledge, and to decide if you are the best option for their offer.

Judges will pay attention to everything in your CV, from your academic records and professional experience to the style you use while describing them.

How to build a structured CV?

Your CV is the only thing the judge will know about you, that is why presenting it in the appropriate way is essential for you to succeed. There are many choices that you will have to make: how to sort your qualifications, whether you should include a picture or not…

However, you should always keep in mind that if your CV looks incomplete and unstructured, you will look the same way, at least to the people who will be judging your application.

In some cases, depending on what you are applying for, you will have to simply cover a form with your information. If that is the case your freedom is limited and it is not much you can do. However, if you are free to present your CV in the way you like it the most, there are different questions that you will have to answer by yourself:

What software should I use?

  • One of the main options is to use the European CV model. You can cover it online here, it is easy, straight-forward, and you will end up with a structured, smart and simple document. In addition, this online tool allows you to refresh your CV in the future, saving a lot of time.
  • If for any reason, you don’t like Europass style, there are other online tools ready to help you. Every single one is different and has their particular pros and cons, it is up to you to choose the one you like, here is another example of one of these tools.
  • Many companies recommend using the Europass model in order to simplify the process of selecting candidates. However, this is not always the norm and, in most occasions, you will be free to elaborate your own CV your way. If that is your situation, perhaps you should think about using a Word template (you can download many for free here) and then build your own personalized document starting from there. Remember that your work and originality will be appreciated.
  • If you are more into open-source software like OpenOffice, worry not, we have also thought about you. Here you can find many different CV templates for OpenOffice.

What should appear in your CV?

This is the simplest and at the same time most complicated questions you will have to answer. In short, your CV will include everything related to the job you are applying for or -if you are applying for a grant- everything the judges will count positively in your application. Usually, you will have some basic guidance about what to talk about (academic life, experience, idioms…) but, if that is not the case, here you have some ideas to start working from:

  • Academic life – Do not over-simplify, talk about activities you participated in, student groups, your average grades. If you were especially skilled in some fields of your studies should be included too. Everything you think might help you, but only if relevant.
  • Jobs and previous experience – Especially if they are related to the application. Also if they are not as it will state that it is not the first time working and that you are adaptable to different environments and ways of working.
  • Languages – Obviously, never forget to show your language skills.
  • Volunteer work.
  • Computer Skills – Especially if you have some sort of certificate to prove them.
  • Driving license – If you think it will be positive for your application.
  • Other skills and abilities (always better if you have proof of them).

Keep it honest!

Maybe the most important thing that you have to remember is this: keep it clear, keep it honest, never lie. It is very recurrent and some people say “everybody lies a bit in their CV”. However, that is not good practice for two reasons:

  1. You will not be able to provide proof of your lies (that will be extremely negative for your chances). And if someday someone discovers your lies…
  2. You will be fired or the grant will be revoked from you. It is always a wise choice to be honest in your CV and receive what you deserve when you deserve it.

The art of selling yourself:

Writing your curriculum is all about marketing. You have to keep it honest and stick to the truth, but that does not mean that you have to be simple -and thus boring-. You are responsible for what you say about yourself, you are the one who chooses what goes and what does not go in, and you are solely responsible for the style and the continuity of your CV. In your own words and in your own way you have to show the best of yourself and demonstrate that you are the best choice.

Somehow you have to make the difference between a series of skills and qualifications without apparent structure and a solid, structured, and convincing Curriculum Vitae.

One last thing to mention in this post is that -as a general rule- CV’s are reusable, but also case-sensitive. I do not recommend in any way to use exactly the same CV for different jobs/grants. Every application is different and for sure you can improve your chances if you consider the peculiarities of each one and modify your résumé accordingly. Even slight changes can give a better sense of narration and make your application more convincing.

That is all for now, we will come back and talk about CV’s in the future -it is a recurrent topic. If you are a newbie in the EDUopinions blog, you can go back and read past articles like general information about grants and grant applications or the toolbox every student needs. Also, if you like our posts, like & share on our Facebook page, comment, and give your opinion in our webpage, that will help us keep growing and helping other students.

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Written by
Juan A.
Biólogo y Máster en Neurociencias nacido y moldeado en el noroeste ibérico. Alma de científico y naturalista recluida en un cuerpo de Homo sapiens. Fundador del blog de divulgación 'Iguanamarina: Divulgaciones, en plural' y colaborador habitual en el blog de EDUopinions.

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