How to Write an Amazing English Language Resume or CV
Writing an outstanding resume is necessary to get that dream job.
Without a resume that demands attention, you won’t get a call, email or interview offer.
So let’s say you’ve found the perfect job.
You’ve already spent years studying English.
It seems that everything is finally lining up to bring you success.
Now all you need to do is send off a resume and wait for the job offers to come flooding in.
Before you start to practice your interview answers, is there anything you could do to improve your resume?
As an English language learner, there are some things you should do to make sure your resume really stands out.
Read on for some top tips to think about when writing a CV or a resume.
Get the Job You Deserve: How to Write a Killer English Language Resume
1. The Importance of a Resume
First a quick note on CVs and resumes. What’s the difference? Luckily for you, there’s almost no difference between a CV and a resume. It’s usually just a different name for the same thing. In the U.S. you’ll usually apply for a job with a resume while in the UK, Europe or Australia you will use a CV.
One important difference is that if you’re asked to apply with a CV in the U.S., it’s likely that your employer wants a much longer document that details your academic achievements in your field. However, this is usually just for academic positions. So, if you’re not applying for those don’t worry!
The importance of a resume or CV is obvious. It’s the first chance your employer will have to see what a star employee you could be! Your CV should grab the attention of your employer as soon as possible, while showing off the skills that make you perfect for the job.
But how should you do this? Every resume has the following sections and you should make sure that yours does too!
Heading. First you’ll start out with a heading. This will include your name and contact details and will allow the recruiter to easily remember whose skillfully-written CV they’re reading.
Objective or summary. After your heading, comes a brief description about your professional self. This will range from a sentence to a short paragraph and will include the kind of job you’re looking for as well as the skills you can bring to the role. It should be short, snappy and grab the attention of the person reading your resume.
The meat. Once those two key introduction points are completed, you’ll get into “the meat” of the resume. Your resume can go one of two ways and you can either write about your education or your work experience first. When choosing which to write about first, you should think about what’s most appropriate to the job you’re applying for, as well as what is most impressive. Have you just graduated from Oxford? Then write that down first! Have you just turned a failing company into one that’s now making millions? Of course you should start with that then.
Now, obviously most people’s education or work experience won’t be quite as impressive as that, but you should think about what’s most likely to impress the person in charge of hiring and write that down first. If not, they may finish reading before getting to the really good bits.
Extras. After your heading, objective, education and work experience, the final section you should include will focus on any extra skills or licenses you’ve acquired. Remember that Photoshop course you took during college? Write it down. Or the swimming team you were captain of that won gold in your year? Again, put it down. In this section you can even include things like word processing experience or having a driving license. Of course, make sure that this is relevant to your desired job.
2. Top Resume Writing Tips
So, now you know what to include in your resume. You can think about how to make sure your content leaps out at the recruiter and shows you to be the fantastic employee you know you are! Of course, first you should follow this guide to make sure you cut out as many grammar mistakes as possible. Finished? Okay. Good. Then here are our top tips for writing a resume!
Power verbs! These are the secret weapon that can transform your simple achievements into mind-blowingly fantastic events. Think about the next sentence:
- I was in charge of a sales team that hit all its targets.
Now, this is an impressive achievement, but the language used doesn’t do much to show it. Using power verbs the same sentence would become:
- Directed and trained a sales team that surpassed their targets.
You can see how this sentence with the power verbs sounds much better, much stronger. Of course, as a second language learner you may not know quite as many power verbs as a native speaker. This is where a thesaurus is your new best friend!
Numbers. This is another way to make your achievements leap from your CV to your future employer’s eyes. This is because they add indisputable facts to your achievements. By adding the number, your future employer knows exactly what your achievement was (and therefore exactly how impressive it was). For example, using the previous sentence:
- I was in charge of a sales team that hit all their targets.
- Directed and trained a sales team that surpassed their targets by 150%.
Past tense. As you can see in the previous examples, your resume will generally be written in the past tense. If you’re still in a job while sending out your resume, it’s possible to write the description of your present job in the present tense.
Avoid using pronouns. This can be confusing for second language speakers as there aren’t many occasions in life where you should write like this. However, when writing a CV your sentences will be more direct without pronouns, which in turn gives your achievements more impact.
Be specific. When applying for a job, it’s expected that you’ll adapt your resume for different jobs. It may seem like it takes a lot of time but in the long run it’s better if you apply with a perfect resume to five jobs than with a standard resume (that doesn’t stand out) to twenty!
Edit and revise. The final tip is perhaps the most obvious, but employers hate to see mistakes in your resume! To avoid this, read, reread and then reread your resume again until you’re 100% sure you have no mistakes. If possible, give your resume to a native English speaker to check for mistakes.
To get a solid grasp of how business English looks like, you should check out FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
3. Extra documents
Good! Your resume is finished and the hard part is done! But before you send off your resume you should check if you need to attach any of the following documents to your email.
Cover letter. This is by far the most common thing to attach to a job application and/or resume. A cover letter is a letter that tells your future employer a little bit more about yourself. On this letter, you can add more detail to some of the most impressive sections of your CV.
References (sometimes called a letter of recommendation) are usually required after your interview. In rare cases they need to be provided up-front. A resume is a letter from a previous employer or teacher/professor that talks about your performance in your previous job.
Omit photos. If you’re from Asia, Latin America, Germany or France, you may be thinking about attaching a photo of your beautiful face to your CV. After all, who wouldn’t give you a job! However, in the UK this is not commonly done and could make your application look unprofessional. Likewise, in the U.S. and Australia it’s usually not required to attach a photo.
Everyone knows searching for a job can be hard and it can seem tough to make your achievements stand out. However, by following this guide you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of success!