Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writing my CV

Writing a Resume, CV, or cover letter, whatever you may call it, is the thing I hate most. Hands down, no contest. It's pithy, irritating, tedious, pretentious, callous, overrated, and probably no matter what you do, misleading. Think about it. You're resume typically has one page to summarize why you should be hired, why you want to work, what you can accomplish. All of your relevant experience (or lack of), all of your time, commitment, work, progress (or lack of) put all on one page.

Resumes are the what, when, where, and why but not necessarily the who. Every time I sit down to write a resume, I always think, "This is not me." I'm more, can offer more, than what these tiny little terse statements say. I'm more than problem, action, results. I'm all in favor of trashing the whole system. It's more likely that workers are hired through networks or in house where resumes are nothing more than ceremony anyways. But yet, we must go on and play the game. The following is what I learned when revising my resume this time around:

1) Language, in particular nouns, are very important. I understand what I do, but its hard putting a label on what you do: curriculum development, authentic materials, communicative learning, needs-based assessment, computer integrated classrooms, ESL writing, teacher training. The list goes on and on. The trick is finding the right words that will get you the right job, sometimes regardless of whether you actually believe in the meaning behind the words, which leads me to my next point.

2) Matching the job description, I used to think, was a tedious task. Why couldn't I make one resume and cover letter about myself and send it out to all of those interested in hiring me based on my qualifications. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Employers think of their need first and who can best fill it second. This time round, I paid a lot of attention to the job description and integrated the wording and phrases into my own resume and cover letter. It surprised me how much easier it was to tailor my experiences and skills to their pre-defined needs. Of course it helped that I am applying to the same position that I previously worked at, but I think part of the trick to speed up the process and get to the relevant information is to go from the job description and any other information you can gain on company or organization.

3) Likewise, writing a cover letter based on the job description is much easier than a generic cover letter. I picked out words such as "project," "assessment," and "culture" and weaved them into my cover letter to highlight my relevant experience. Previously, I had the problem of not being confident about my experience, but once I got in the job, I realized how important any previous experience is and how to work and build off of what you've already done. Being aware of your own development as a professional will give you more insights on what to mention in your cover letter. Also, I wasn't shy about talking about things that I wanted to bring to the table. I think learner training is really important, so I mentioned that I could help improve their learner training program. I couldn't have pulled off that move as a newcomer to the field, but now that I have some experience, I can identify weak points and exploit them. I wish someone would have told me that years ago.

4) Writing a CV is much more difficult than a resume because a CV lists everything you've done and must be more detailed in periphery activities such as publications, affiliations, volunteer work, etc. But after writing a CV, you can skim down the content to create a resume. Thus it’s much easier to customize from more complete information than incomplete.

5) No matter how hard I try, I can never get all of the errors out of my own resume. It really does require another set of ideas. Before I was shy about not being able to edit my own resume, but as Vygotsky says, we learn by interacting with others.

This resume/CV is still in the workshop and may never leave, but as I gain more experience, thank god, it gets easier to write about my experiences, skills, and accomplishments. Having professionals, such as the guys and gals in the career service department, helped me gain more confidence in my own writing. I think that the resume/CVshould be glorious and an all out attempt by you to show your very best. Anything less might not get you the job that you really want.