Each step of an average admission process is so designed that it provides the complete picture about the candidate applying for the university. Of all of the procedures, the one that’s easiest to complete, but also the one that carries the most weight is the Curriculum Vitae or the CV. A CV is just a plain record of all your accomplishments presented on a piece of paper (two at most.) Since you’re applying to a prestigious university and the task is quite simple, it can be quite daunting, leading one to procrastinate it to the end. Once one finds enough motivation to begin the task, one notices that there isn’t much to writing a CV. All it takes is a knack to present yourself in such a way that the admission officer would want to skim all the way through to the end of the document.
The first thing to remember while writing a CV is that this is not the place for modesty. While it might do you well in real life, it does not bode well to be modest if you want to attract the attention of the university that thousands of similarly, if not more, qualified people are applying to. The basic contents of a CV are listed underneath
• Full name of the candidate in clearly visible size and font
• Address and contact number of the candidate
• Short-term goals during the time you would be at the college (Optional)
• Academic qualifications in reverse chronological order (Recent first and earliest last)
• Work experience/summer programs
• Other courses that you have done
• Co-curricular activities
• Extra-curricular activities including but not limited to volunteering work carried on etc.
• Other skills you have acquired
• Recommendations from any professors you have
Do’s and Don’t’s of writing a CV
A CV highlights a list of your accomplishments. It is your chance to showcase and impress the admission officer. While not possessing such a descriptive chance to impress the officer as with an SOP, a CV is really concise. As metioned before, do not shy from mentioning your achievements. If you’ve score #3 in your class in graduation, feel free to include that as well. Many times you’ll be surprised as to what matters while the officer is examining your CV. While your academic qualifications maybe mentioned chronologically, mention the other activities that you’ve done in the order that you believe important, whether or not actually chronological.
There is no need to type out full sentences in a CV. In all likelihood, the officer is going to skim over to key words. So it is better to give him just the key words. Be sure to use action words. For example, always prefer “Presented Research paper titled Gen Y: Workplace Productivity Conundrum at an International Conference in Mysore” over the whole thing typed out grammatically.
If you’ve done any college level courses during your high school or attained any other diplomas while doing your graduation, make sure to highlight them. Never use abbreviations where you can use the full form. Always assume that the officer would not know the abbreviation. Sit down and rack your brain to understand what you’ve done. While on the surface it seems like you haven’t done much, you’d be surprised at how much pops up once you’ve sat down and jotted down everything you think could go onto your CV. Always remember that details from your High School only count. Please don’t go around including achievements from your primary school or your middle school. The only exception is if the achievement was for a prolonged period such as doing an NCC Camp (Boy/girl scouts) etc.
Once you feel you have enough on it, work on organising it. Most CVs are made or unmade in major part by the presentation. Presentation shows clarity of thought. It helps the officer understand what you want to tell him and in most cases, makes the work of analysing your CV easier, and in a way you’d want him to analyse. In case you have a lot of things to put on the CV, always put the ones with more importance attached to them. It is important to catch the officer’s eye with those first three achievements. That’s going to determine whether or not he’s going to read through the rest. Always remember to try to keep the CV to one page. But if you feel that it is going cross one page, make sure that at least half of the second page is full. Don’t mail or send via post a CV with only quarter of the second page filled, and that too with unimportant descriptions about something lost in the last lines of the first page. The top of a second page always attracts attention. So make sure you type your CV out that way.
If you feel that second page is not enough too, and that it’s going to the third page, re-evaluate your CV to trim it down to two pages. It is ideal to keep a CV within two pages. You have two ideal spots- one at the beginning of the accomplishments, and one at the start of the second page. Make sure you utilise them to your maximum benefit. While modesty is certainly not the word of the day here, exaggerating your accomplishments makes the CV look shallow. Don’t embellish your achievements. Keep it simple, but don’t downplay them.
Always use bullet points. Bullets make the language seem more concise. Avoid using personal pronouns. Abstract subject language psychologically adds weight to your CV. For example, don’t write, “I have excellent research skills.” Instead type, “Received general acclaim to three papers published in national conferences.” Always group relevant information together. Don’t seem all over the place. It is important so that the admission officer will have a clear picture of each and every aspect of your achievement. And most importantly, always proof-read, rewrite, edit and repeat before sending it.