Harvard´s Curriculum Vitae Tips


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Harvard´s Curriculum Vitae Tips

  1. 1. HARVARD´s CURRICULUM VITAE TIPS<br />Your goal in creating a resume is to make it an effective marketing tool. It should be a fluid document which changes as you earn degrees, gain professional experience and acquire new interests and career directions. Employers often spend less than a minute looking at each resume when they first receive it. From this glance, they often make preliminary rejection decisions; therefore, an organized and informative resume is crucial to the job search. Your resume must be "scan-proof" to avoid being sent straight from the envelope to the rejection pile.<br />Below are general guidelines to help you create a visually powerful resume that best reflects your strengths and accomplishments and enables you to land job offers with your top choice public interest employers.<br />If You Think You Don't Need to Redo Your Resume<br />Think again! Your resume can always use some improvement. Through interviewing, you will learn what needs clarification on your resume and what should be emphasized. As you add information, the format of your resume may need some adjustment. The "after" resume looks less cluttered and the information is easier to access and understand. The resume format used here is conducive to adding information and presenting it in a professional manner. You should strongly consider having someone else proof your resume for typos. A typo on your resume may cause a prospective employer to be concerned about your attention to detail. Even if you already have a fine-tuned resume, consider reading on. You may be able to skip some of the following steps, but with our format and content suggestions, you can draft a polished, easy-to-update document that captures your accomplishments.<br />Things to Organize Before You Start Writing<br />Sit down and list all of your work experience since high school, including your activities, hobbies and interests. After you have made this list, start thinking about the following:<br />What were your primary responsibilities?<br />What specific examples can you give of your work (e.g. "Represented social security claimants denied disability benefits," "Drafted legislative initiative to reform the Civil Rights Act of 1990," "Analyzed $150,000 budget to identify cost-cutting initiatives")?<br />What skills did you develop?<br />What tasks or projects did you undertake?<br />What accomplishments did you contribute to or complete yourself?<br />Talking to friends or co-workers about these experiences may make it easier to recall all your responsibilities and achievements.<br />It is worth taking the time to clarify your career goals before revising your resume and launching your job search. You also may need to give some thought to which interests, work skills and experiences you want to emphasize for prospective public service employers.<br />Length<br />Your resume should not generally exceed one page. That usually means that you have to make some strategic omissions in your work experience or academic sections. Exceptions to this "one page rule" are if you have an extensive list of publications or five or more years of work experience prior to law school. Also, some fellowship sponsors ask that you include any relevant information even if it dates back to high school and causes your resume to exceed a page.<br />A Dynamic Document<br />Plan to rewrite your resume many times during your legal education and your professional career. Invite friends, family members and classmates to look over your resume and offer suggestions, corrections and help in identifying any areas that need clarification. Incorporate those suggestions that appeal to you, but make sure you use your own language. For this reason, you should always save an updated resume on your computer or on a drive you can easily access.<br />Remember that your resume ultimately serves as a public relations piece to market you to prospective employers. Refine it continually to accentuate your accomplishments and strengths.<br />Appearance<br />The visual aesthetics of your resume are important. Employers tend to make only cursory scans of newly received resumes looking for something that grabs their attention. Your format should allow the employer to skim through your education and experience. By enabling the employer to read all of your attributes at a glance, you increase your chance of getting a second look.<br />Your resume should be easy to read or scan along the left-hand margin and free of typos. Resumes and cover letters should be on matching stationery, preferably white or off-white. Standard office bond paper is acceptable. The tabs and margins must be consistent and you should avoid using too many different type fonts or sizes on your resume. Avoid underlining words or sections; use italics instead. Put the names of former and current employers in bold and in all caps, so that a prospective employer can know from a glance where you have worked. An excellent technique for proofreading your resume is to read it backwards, so that your eyes move more slowly over the words.<br />Examples of each section, along with tips, can be found below.<br />HeaderList your present address and a telephone number  and email address where employers can reach you.If you are a current student, use your HLS email address.Be sure that your voicemail greeting is professional.You may decide to include your permanent address as well, both to allow employers to get in touch with you when you are not at school and to let them know the geographic area you consider home.Do not include a job objective here or elsewhere on your resume; your career objectives and plans should be expressed in your cover letter. <br />   <br />RACHEL MOSS81 Oxford StreetCambridge, MA 02138(617) 495-3108rmoss@jd11.law.harvard.edu<br />  <br />EducationUnless you are more than three years out of law school, your education section should precede your experience section.For current law students, indicate the degree you expect to earn, e.g., J.D. and date of graduation, e.g., June 2013.List your advanced degrees, starting with your law or most recent degree and working back to college.If you have earned two degrees from the same institution, list them separately.Your education section should reflect whether you transferred as an undergraduate, studied abroad, enrolled in a joint degree program or received a graduate degree prior to law school.Omit your high school education in nearly all cases. If you think it would be helpful to include for geographic or alumni connections, indicate that when submitting your resume for review.<br />  <br />EDUCATION       <br /> HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, J.D. Candidate, June 2011                               Activities:     Harvard Law and Policy Review                                                      American Constitution Society                                                      Women’s Law Association                                                      1L Section Events Committee<br /> <br />                               UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN                               B.A. with High Honors in American Studies and English, May 2008<br />                               Honors:         Phi Beta Kappa                                                      Rapoport-King Honors Thesis Scholarship                                                      Kemp-Foreman Endowed Presidential Scholarship<br />                                                                          Activities:     University Democrats                                                      Blanton Museum of Art Student Guild                                                       First-Generation College Student Mentorship program, ment<br />                                                                          Thesis:         “They Aren’t Hearing Us – They’re Rich”: Consequences of Social Difference                                                       on Public Housing in New Orleans and Nationwide<br />Honors & Activities  You should include two separate subsections for each educational degree: "Honors" and "Activities."Be sure to include a brief explanation on any awards or distinctions that are not familiar to most readers.At most, you should include three to five entries; listing too many detracts from the most relevant activities or honors.The "Honors" section should list any awards or distinctions you received, such as Dean's List, cum laude or Phi Beta Kappa. Because they are Latin phrases, magna, summa, and cum laude should always appear in italicized, lower case letters. (Note that honors such as Dean's List may seem redundant if you also graduated with Greek or Latin honors. )In the "Activities" section,  indicate any student organization memberships, reading groups, elected offices, activities or sports in which you have participated.Do not include your undergraduate grade point average unless it is specifically requested by an employer or not well-reflected in honors received. An impressive GPA is often self-evident from your honors — if you graduated magna cum laude for instance. If you do choose to include your grades, do so in brackets next to honors: such as cum laude (GPA 3.7).Of note, public service employers are interested in much more than how you perform on tests. While they may ask you about grades during an interview, they almost never impose strict grade cutoffs.LSAT and other standardized test scores should not appear on your resume. <br />Thesis or PaperYou may want to include a separate "Thesis" subsection under the appropriate educational degree and indicate the title of your thesis in italics.Any notes or articles you are writing for a journal should go under a separate publications section, in blue book form or with a notation such as: (publication pending) or (forthcoming in the spring edition).<br />ExperienceList your work experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent work experience listed first, going back no more than five jobs.Clinical work during law school, internships and even part-time work may be included under your "Experience" section, particularly if you came straight to law school from college. Remember that volunteer work counts equally in terms of experience and need not be singled out under a separate heading on your resume. On the other hand, if you have a significant number of work experiences, you may want to create a separate heading such as a "Community Service" section on your resume and group your volunteer work there.Do not feel compelled to list every job you have held before or during law school, as your resume should be designed to highlight your most significant and relevant experiences. The most obvious omissions should be your earliest work experiences, particularly nonlegal work that has little to do with your current job search.You can choose to exclude more recent work experience, such as one part of a split summer, but be careful; gaps may grab an employer's attention. If you leave out a bad work experience, you still may find yourself having to explain the gap in your resume.Descriptions are everything in this section, since they capture the essence of your experience and any recognition and accomplishments. Paint a dynamic picture of the type of work you did and the extent of your responsibilities. Try not to exaggerate your responsibilities and avoid self-aggrandizing descriptions. Detail what you did in each job. For example, if you worked at a legal services center, list the type of clients with whom you worked and the scope of cases you handled.The proportional length of each job description is key. Use the longer descriptions to accentuate those work experiences most critical to your current search. Employers will assume that the longer the description, the more priority you give to the experience. Thus, you can downplay certain experiences by either merely listing them on your resume or by abbreviating their descriptions.Do not make the employer search for information on your resume. Just as you do not want him/her to have to decode your resume format, you also do not want to leave the employer confused about your responsibilities or the type of work you did.<br />EXPERIENCE               TENANT ADVOCACY PROJECT                                                     Fall 2008 – Present                                         Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA                                                                                         Represent tenants facing eviction and other housing issues such as application denials,                                         transfers, and reasonable accommodation in Housing Authority grievance hearings.                                         Advise tenants of legal rights by telephone.<br />                                         CENTER FOR AMERICAN HISTORY                                              Summer – Fall 2007                                         Austin, TX                                           Served as student page in University of Texas archival library. Retrieved archival                                         materials for researchers. Entered data in a biographical newspaper database, compiled                                         newspaper clippings for vertical files, and assisted with special projects.<br />                                         UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RESIDENCE LIFE                              Fall 2005 – Spring 2007                                         Austin, TX                                                                                         Provided support, peer education, conflict mediation, policy enforcement, emergency                                         management, and event planning for a floor of 40-50 student residents. Performed                                         administrative shifts at residence hall front desk.<br /> When employers review your resume, they should be able to figure out quickly what you did at a particular job. If an employer becomes frustrated with the information on your resume because it is incomplete or a struggle to interpret, your resume will be put aside.Your experience descriptions should be broken into shorter phrases so that they read more quickly than sentences. Each segment should begin with an action verb like these examples: Assisted in scheduling city projects. Drafted Congressional testimony. Created summer intern program. Advised freshmen on course selection.Action verbs should dominate your resume —see our list of action verbs for ideas. Review your entire experience section and omit any passive verbs, particularly any form of "to be." Phrases such as "was responsible for running" should become "Ran," for example.Unless you need to fill space, job titles should be used only when they indicate relatively high level positions or help define jobs, such as Director of Legislative Advocacy or Education Outreach Coordinator. List them in italics on the line directly below the employer's name. Titles such as "volunteer," "research assistant," "paralegal" or "law clerk" should be omitted; instead, you should plunge directly into a description of your responsibilities.If you have held more than one job with the same employer, enter both jobs under one header, putting the title of each job in italics. <br />DatesPublicationsClearly delineate dates on your resume. Place them flush right on the page.Include publications in a separate section of your resume, especially if they are law-related pieces, such as a note or comment for a journal.Refer to the dates of summer or semester-long jobs as Summer 20__, Fall 20__, Spring 20__.The citation should generally follow blue book format.Do not worry about the exact dates of your employment. If you worked at an organization from March 2006 to November 2007, simply put 2006-2007.If your article, comment or note is published in a law journal that may not be recognizable to a prospective employer, write out the full title of the law journal rather than use the blue book reference<br />Computer SkillsLanguagesUnless yours are extraordinary, omit these—you do not want a legal employer hiring you based on computer skills or based on any Lexis/ Nexis/Westlaw training you may have.If you are fluent or conversant in several languages, you may create a separate category entitled "Languages" that lists the languages you speak: "Fluent in French. Can read Italian. Conversant in Japanese."Since most law students have this training, its inclusion does little to distinguish you.Do not overrate your skills, as you may be asked to demonstrate them during an interview.<br />Interests/PersonalAdding one or two lines about your outside hobbies, interests or travels can be invaluable for interviews. Not only does it help to counterbalance your academic pursuits, but it gives an interviewer additional topics of conversation. It also stops an employer from asking open-ended (and sometimes inappropriate) questions, such as "Tell me about yourself," in an effort to get to know a little more about you personally. You should be prepared to talk a little about your passion for the things included in your interest/personal section. However, be careful not to include personal information that the employer does not need to know, such as age, marital status or whether you have children.<br />PERSONAL INTERESTS include travel, movies, vegetarian cooking, reading fiction, following political news, and practicing yoga.<br /> <br />References It is unnecessary to add "References (or writing samples/ transcripts) will be furnished upon request" at the end of your resume, as employers will ask you to provide them with your references and it occupies valuable space on your resume.Bring a separate piece of paper listing three or four references to an interview (along with an extra copy of your resume) and be prepared to offer it if the interviewer mentions references.This sheet should be formatted in the same manner as your resume. Your name, address and phone number should be at the top, with "References" typed in the same format as "Education" is on your resume. This title should then be followed by the names, titles, email, address, organization names, addresses and telephone numbers of references. It also is important to include a line or two about how you know the person. See sample reference sheet.Give careful consideration to which references you will use for different employers, as some contacts may be more helpful for one position than another. Before you list someone as a reference, be sure to call them to ask permission, let them know the type of work you are pursuing and, if necessary, refresh their memory about your work.<br /> <br />Sending Your ResumeFollow UpIf the employer states a preference for email or another format (mail or fax, typically),  follow his/her guidelines. Many times an organization will accept both emailed and hard copy applications.  Unless an employer requests no phone inquiries, it is smart to call the employer to confirm that your resume was received and indicate when you are available for an interview. Alternatively, you can send an email message if you have one for the hiring contact. It is particularly helpful to let an organization know if you will be coming to town and are available to meet. If you are applying to a federal agency in Washington, DC, it is often wise to send your materials  electronically, as mail for US Government offices is subject to security measures and is often delayed.Be careful to balance persistence and enthusiasm about the position against aggressiveness and over-exuberance. The idea is for the employer to have your name in mind when turning his or her attention to final hiring decisions – not to harass them.If you are sending your materials electronically, and no file format is specified, convert your files to PDF. Include both your last name and the type of document (resume, writing sample, etc.) in the filename to facilitate the recipient's ability to store and locate these files.You can also send writing samples or other materials to update your resume if the hiring process takes some time. Calls or emails from practitioners or professors familiar with the employer are sure to impress potential employers and may land you an interview.<br />