Ask The Intern: How to make a good CV or resume
“I’m really interested in applying for a Marketing internship in New York, but I’m not sure how to make a good CV. There is a lot of information online and I don’t know which advice to follow! Can you help me?” – Jenny
Hi! Yes of course, I completely understand how you feel. It’s hard to know how to make a good CV and all of the information online can be overwhelming! First of all, it’s worth pointing out that there are many ways to write and structure a resume and this also varies from country to country. For example, in the US there is a difference between a resume and a CV, which has been explained in a previous blog post. In the UK, however, a CV is the same as a resume. I’ve selected a few articles from Prospects and The Telegraph, which may be useful when starting to write a CV. For the purposes of my post, I will share my tips for interns on how to make a good CV or resume, which includes a brief summary of your skills, experience and education.
1. Start with a master list
A good place to start would be writing a master list on a word document. It can be easy to initially get caught up in picking a template or CV layout. In fact, you will probably want to change the layout as you start filling in your information. Instead, note down all your experience, skills and education and make sure that you include dates and locations in each category. This is a long process but it will be very useful to have one document with all your information, which you can access at any time. I would also suggest that you update your master list regularly, ensuring that you constantly have a full record of your past work experience. With regard to personal information, make sure that you update any changes of address or phone number. How else will potential employers contact you? Generally in the UK and the US it is not common to include your nationality, gender or a photo of yourself on your resume, as this avoids any potential grounds for unjust discrimination.
2. Be concise
Once you’ve drawn up a detailed list of your past experience, create a different document including the information related to the internship you are applying for. Your resume should only be 1-2 pages long, so you cannot mention all of your skills and past experience. If Steve Jobs could fit all of his experience onto only one page, I think that says it all. It will be tedious for employers to read through pages of your life, so only include what is relevant to your position. For example, if you are applying for a journalism internship, you can exclude a job as a sales assistant in favor of writing experience. However, it would be worth mentioning the sales assistant job if you are applying for a Marketing internship. Often people can get carried away when describing their roles in past positions. It is a good idea to include an overall description of tasks and assignments, but there is no need to list everything; you can always go into more detail in the interview. This is the same for skills and extra-curricular activities. Ensure that you mention current hobbies and not something that you enjoyed 10 years ago.
3. Only include factual information
You may wish to include a brief ‘personal statement’ at the beginning of your resume or CV, outlining why you wish to intern abroad in your chosen field, and why you would be suited to the position. This should only be 3-4 lines long. It is important to remember that CVs or resumes are a formal piece of factual information. This is not the place to demonstrate your enthusiasm and opinions. You are simply listing details about yourself, and personality traits will come across in a cover letter or interview. CVs are used as the base for an interview, so you must never lie, as this will become very obvious later on. You can certainly embellish a previous role by adding your title and selecting the more interesting tasks you were assigned to do. However, if you feel that you need to lie then perhaps you are not applying for the right internship.
4. Important things to mention
When applying for an international internship, it’s important to mention languages in your set of skills. This is a great asset when applying for any position, but this can significantly boost your application when looking to work abroad. Similarly, if you have any previous travel experience or have already worked abroad then this will make your resume stand out from the crowd. Employers have seen hundreds of indistinguishable CVs so adding something interesting and personal will make you more memorable. For example skills, hobbies and interests will draw employers in and will make them want to invite you to interview. Also, it may be obvious, but it is worth listing your IT competencies under your skills. Given that jobs now increasingly require a good grasp of computer skills, it is invaluable to mention that you have worked with different softwares.
5. Have a good layout
It is easy to forget, but the layout of your CV or resume is just as important as the content. As I’ve already mentioned, employers receive hundreds of CVs, so they can easily miss important information if yours is hard to read. Make sure the font is clear and easy to read, and keep it in black as this is more professional. Also, proofread or send your CV to someone to go over in order to avoid typos! Typos appear sloppy and unprofessional and can easily be avoided. It can also be tempting to make the font smaller in order to fit more onto the page, but it is more important to have a clear resume than one that looks over-crowded. You can find some useful articles here and here on layouts. Similarly, The Intern Group has a resume template that you can use.
I hope that helps! If you have any questions for me, you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
Photo 3. based on The Intern Group.