Stewart’s corner

Writing a CV

A curriculum vitae is an important part of any job application. It is often demanded in other contexts as well, such as documenting the qualifications of project staff in an application for research funding from the European Commission or other bodies. Given the importance of this document is it surprising that many still use the traditional CV, when there are other interesting alternatives.

Traditional CV
This is a listing of basic information with name, address, contact details, then a series of headings, such as : «Education», «Career», «Publications», «Appointments» and «Interests». Most people place the most recent activities first. Sometimes, the names and contact details of two referees are added (one about you as a person and the other a professional reference). The traditional CV is criticized because it does little to «sell» your superb qualities to a potential employer/funding body, it is often too factual and usually not tailored to what the «customer» wants.

Chronological CV
This uses headings such as «Personal», «Qualifications and training», «Interests» and «Referees» that list what you have done factually as in the traditional CV. The main difference is the section «Experience» that comes after «Personal». Instead of just listing your positions and your em-ployers, a chronological CV adds what you have done in your career starting with the most recent activities. A successful «Experience» section is written in complete sentences using active constructions such as «responsible for…, in charge of…, managing…, research work into…, publishing…». As the rest of the CV is fairly standard, you can tailor the «Experience» section to each job you apply for. The drawback is that since the chronological order has to be followed, any empty periods in your track record will be very evident.

Functional CV
This is organized by skills and qualities, so if a job requires certain skills such as IT competence and international experience, you can present yourself accordingly. This means you can focus on your strengths and the skills the employer is looking for. A functional CV uses headings such as «Personal», «Education and training», «Interests» and «Referees» that list what you have done factually as in the traditional CV. The sections that come after «Personal» are characteristic of this type of CV: «Profile», «Skills» and «Experience». Under «Profile», you could write: «Responsible, recently-graduated chemical engineer, with good organizational skills. The initiative to work independently, and successful experience of working in a project team. Strong background in IT, matched by three months of international work experience in leading software company». The «Skills» section lists your skills: «Biotechnology, specializing in…», «Desktop publishing», «French - working knowledge». The «Experience» section is similar to the chronological CV but lists the most relevant periods of your career first.

Tricky words

curriculum vitae, resumé
Curriculum vitae (Norw. vita) is a brief resumé of a person's life, education and career that is commonly required with job applications or as career documentation. The plural form is curricula vitae. The normal abbreviation is CV.
Resumé means a summary: «A quick resumé of the results from the kick-off meeting». In AE, resumé is an alternative to curriculum vitae: «Applicants are invited to submit their resumés». Remember the accent or there may be confusion with resume, meaning to do something again.

Enlightening English

«Student Peace Price»
Some of our colleagues recently announced that the «Student Peace Price» will be launched. Without linguistic purification, the confusion between the cost of something - price and the award of something - prize, may have misled the international student community about the true purpose of  this excellent initiative. Is it the price of keeping students all over the world peaceful? or the student version of the Nobel Peace Prize? This was not a single typo, price and prize were confused 10 times on a single page. The world was almost referred to a homepage that ended «…» and an e-mail address that started: «price@».
The problems with r's and l's in Japan have led to some interesting linguistic incidents:
The future emperor of Japan was once referred to as the «clown prince».

An American went to his first Japanese burial service. He joined the line of mourners, picked up a white chrysanthemum and placed it by the photograph of the deceased. He also knew that he should clap his hands, but how many times and when? His Japanese colleague saw he was unsure and wrote a quick note: «To show respect for the deceased, approach the picture and crap three times».

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