Learn to Write Effective Resumes and CVs

September 10, 2018

Writing resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) can seem like an easy task at first but can quickly become overwhelming and cumbersome; even small mistakes on your resume or CV can hurt your chances at getting hired. Heather Costa, SHRM-CP, a recruiter for the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center-the James, in Columbus, presented tips and tricks that oncology nurses can use to make their resumes and CVs effective, clean, and concise. 

What to Do—and Not Do

Getting a resume started the right way can be confusing, and “a lot of nurses have questions on how to set up their resume or add to it,” Costa said. The objective of a resume is to get an interview, so making sure a resume or CV looks appropriate is essential in this process. The main focus when writing a resume, she said, is to keep it clean and concise—extra frills or wordy explanations won’t help. Costa noted that a heavier paper stock could be used if you want to stand out, but avoid nonstandard fonts or colors: keeping it professional is key. When putting a resume together, don’t forgot to add a phone number so possible employers can contact you, but omit marital status, birthdays, or headshots. “We aren’t hiring based on what you look like, so just keep it off there,” Costa said. One size resume does not fit all, she added, so a resume should be revamped depending on the position that you are applying for. Resumes usually follow one of three formats:

• Chronologic: Start by listing your work history, with the most recent position listed first. In this format, you want to list the most important information, be specific in your skills and your daily tasks, and use numbers, figures, and facts to get your point across.

• Functional: Focus on skills and experience first, not necessarily your jobs in chronologic order.

• Combination: List your skills and experience first, followed by employment history. This type of resume highlights the skills you have that are related to the job and uses chronologic work history. Costa said that this type of resume is great for entry-level applicants or senior executives.

Costa cited that the functional resume is becoming less used and that “it’s not something, as a recruiter, I would suggest.” However, no matter what resume format you decide is best for you, avoid using long paragraphs when describing daily tasks and responsibilities—bullets are best.

Essential Resume Components

Focus your resume’s components to keep it clear and easy to understand. Section headings (e.g., experience, education, additional skills) help keep pertinent information in order, and “headings make it easier to glance at your resume,” Costa said. When listing work experience, make sure that the skills you highlight are targeted to the position that you are applying for. Providing education can also be beneficial, especially if you have training or certifications that are related to the job. Some applicants still use an objective header at the beginning of their resume. Costa personally leans away from listing an objective because you need to ensure that the objective is in line with what you are applying for, and many people forget to update it. “If you don’t change it, it can be a detriment to yourself,” she said. However, if you do decide to use an objective on your resume, be sure to focus the objective on how you would benefit the possible employer, explain your passion for the field, be clear in your explanation, and be concise and to the point. “We don’t need to know your nursing skills because we know what a nurse does,” but be sure to mention things that set you apart from other applicants, Costa said. 

The CV-Versus-Resume Debate:  Which Is Better for You? CVs and resumes are both important, but they do have some differences. CVs are best for:

• Academic

• Education • Scientific

• Medical

• Research

• Fellowship/grants

Resumes are best for:

• Job applications

• Employment purposes

CVs should be more than two or three pages, and the details of the CV should include your academic background, teaching opportunities, degrees, awards, publications that you have worked on, and presentations that you have done. “It’s not a typical job resume,” Costa added. Traditional resumes, on the other hand, should be at least one page and should include your objective (if you decide to list one), education details, your work history, any credentials you have, and any accomplishments or skills you’d like to share. Although paper resumes and CVs are still used frequently, electronic resumes have started to become more common. Costa noted that the nursing population isn’t using LinkedIn as heavily as other industries, but that it’s also growing in popularity. With LinkedIn, users can enter settings and request to receive notifications, receive endorsements from friends and colleagues, and open your profile to recruiters or job opportunities (this can also be turned off if you are not looking for employment). 

Costa, H. (2018). Tips for writing effective resumes and CVs. Session presented at the ONS 43rd Annual Congress,  Washington, DC, May 17, 2018. Retrieved from https://ons.confex. com/ons/2018/meetingapp.cgi/Session/1617.



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