CV TIPS FROM A FRESH RECRUITER FOR INTERNSHIP AND TRAINEESHIP CANDIDATES
Written by Halil Çiftçi
In my previous article, I gave you some advice for interviews, and in this article, I will list the most common mistakes that trainees and internship candidates make in their CVs and a few tips on how you can improve your CV. I also mentioned the importance of first impressions you will leave on the recruiters in the interviews. As with interviews, your CV will be the first document your recruiter sees about you, and since you’ll be competing with many candidates, it’s best to double-check your CV and make proper arrangements based on the unique requirements of each internship position’ to make yourself stand out as a candidate. As a fresh recruiter, I examined hundreds of CVs, and I noted down all the mistakes that caught my attention. I will try to help you as much as I can with the help of my past experience.
The difference between CV and resume
Before we begin, let’s define the difference between a resume and a CV. The term curriculum vitae comes from the Latin phrase “course of (one’s) life.”, and a CV can be as long as you want it to be and is an evolving document that chronicles your professional development and career (Williams-Nickelson, 2008). However, a resume only includes your skills and qualifications for a specific job, and unlike a CV, a resume should typically be one or two pages long. Because CVs are most commonly used in academia, you may need to prepare one if you plan to apply for masters or doctoral programs in the future. Although organizations usually ask candidates for CVs for the internship and traineeship positions they sometimes use CV and résumé terms interchangeably. If you are not sure about whether you should send your CV or resume you should contact the institution you applied for.
When it comes to preparing a CV formatting is one of the most important features as it will be the first thing recruiters will pay attention to. A good format should highlight the most important information on your CV, such as your name, your previous employers’ names, and all the institutions’ names that you be part of in the past. Moreover, a good format isn’t just about highlighting names, it also includes things like how to line up all the sections, how to place those sections properly, or give your CV a holistic structure by avoiding white spaces. To sum it up, a good format helps you easily demonstrate all these salient features to recruiters and increase your credibility. I’ll give you some tips to help you develop these features, and I’ll talk about the most common mistakes internship candidates make on their CVs so you can avoid them:
In a literal sense, white spaces refer to the empty spaces between each section. As I mentioned before format is the primary feature of the CV that recruiters pay attention to, and good usage of white spaces can help you to have a perfect format and might give you the chance to get a face-to-face interview. The two most common mistakes I noticed while examining candidates’ CVs were using too many white spaces to make the CV appear longer or sending a messy one-page block of text where all texts are mixed up. Doing the proper arrangments following four sections can help you to avoid such mistakes:
Font/Margin/Line Spacing/Bullet Points
If you haven’t had any professional help to prepare your CV, I’m assuming you are using free CV builder websites. I did the same. After all, you are probably applying for an unpaid internship position, and purchasing a CV preparation service may not be ideal for your budget. Even though you’ve prepared your CV on a free website, that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with some of its features. Convert the free version of your downloaded CV to word and change some features to have a good format.
Font: Use easily readable fonts, such as Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri, or Arial. Remember, your main goal is to make your resume easy to review.
Margin: Margin refers to the blank spaces that run along the top, bottom, left, and right sides of a document. They are significant because they contribute to a document’s neat and professional appearance. However, there is no correct answer for ideal margin width. Based on my previous reviews, I recommend you adjust the margin width between .05 to 1. To change the margin choose the margins option from the layout menu and come to the custom margins and set the margin width as 1.0 for all directions.
Bullet Points: Consider using bullet points instead of typing paragraphs. It improves the readability of the content and helps you summarize the information you want to add.
Keep them short but concise.
Include only relevant information.
List everything in order of importance.
Try to use a maximum of 6 bullet points for each section, such as job experience, certificate, education, etc.
Start each bullet point with powerful action verbs, such as coordinated, executed, incorporated, redesigned, etc. Check out this link for more: Powerful action verbs
Grammar, spelling and punctuation
Double-check your CV after you’ve finished preparing it. Sometimes a typo in your email can cost you an interview, and in any case, grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors reduce your credibility. Maybe you can show your CV to a friend to check because it’s very common to overlook some mistakes in a document you spend a lot of time on.
Document type selection
If the institution didn’t indicate in which format you should send your CV (PDF, Word, etc.), it’s better to contact them and ask it before sending your documents.
Order of the sections
How you going to order all the sections on your CV is another way to improve your format. If you don’t have a clear idea about this, you can use the following structure:
Header and contact information: Make sure that your name is visible enough to catch recruiters’ attention, and the contact section includes all the relevant information.
Educational background: List all degree-granting institutions, as well as any thesis titles and coursework that is highly relevant. Include all the ongoing programs you enroll in and the professional certificates you received.
Honors and awards or maybe scholarships: Although this section is optional, it’s generally added in applications for academic positions. However, you can also add this section for the internship applications as well. Include the name of the award and the date it was received.
Publications&Presentations: You can include your publications and presentations you have done in the past.
Skills: Prioritize your hard skills. If these skills are highly relevant to the internship position you’re applying for, move this below your professional profile to avoid the possibility of recruiters overlooking them.
Additional sections: If you still have something to add after the previous sections about the internship position, such as volunteering experience, interests, and other professional experiences, you can add them here. However, the purpose here is to support, not obscure other parts. So think twice before adding anything to your CV and make sure you have a real reason to include it.
2. Problem with links
As an intern candidate, you have the freedom to add links to your CV these days, where almost all internship postings are online. Maybe you’re a developer who doesn’t just want to explain their projects in writing, but also wants to show them off, or you’re a new designer who wants recruiters to see your previous work. So, with these links, you can grab the attention of recruiters and make it easier for them to navigate your application. However, in any case, you need to meet certain criteria and make sure that you are presenting these links correctly. A well-crafted link not only makes your CV shine, but it also increases your credibility.
You should not solely put links as a description. Perhaps the link you put contains all information about that project, but your recruiter might be too busy to examine it. Be sure to mention all highlights and achievements in all descriptions and use links as a supporting tool.
Double-check your links and make sure that they are clickable.
Avoid using unspecified links and put a short description in front of each link so your CV reviewer knows where that link will take them.
3. Contact Information
The contact section is probably the most important part of your CV because recruiters will want to contact you after you’re shortlisted. While the chances of mistakes are very low here, I encountered many misspelled emails, phone numbers, and sometimes even misspelled names. Such mistakes can cost you a good internship opportunity. Double-check or even triple-check your contact information so you don’t regret it later.
Things that the contact information section must include:
Phone number starting with country code
Address: Country and city will suffice for employers. If you don’t have a problem with adding your full address, that’s fine. However, once accepted, you will be required to include your full address in some documents you submit. Therefore, unless the institution you are applying to asks for your full address, you do not need to add it to your CV.
LinkedIn profile: If your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, don’t hesitate to add it to your contact information.
Other social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, etc.):You can add your social media accounts to the contact section if you regularly share about the position you’re applying for.
If you manage large groups on social media platforms such as Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter, you should include them on your CV to demonstrate your managerial and leadership abilities, especially if you’re applying for marketing departments.
4. Professional Summary
A professional summary about yourself is optional. You can add it to your CV after contact information. Sometimes recruiters might be inattentive and just give a glance at your CV. Therefore, you should include your key achievements and soft and hard skills here, that you don’t want recruiters to overlook.
Unless the institution requires a specific format, begin listing your schools with your most recent degree and include other degrees in reverse chronological order.
Things you should include:
The name of your school
Your school’s location
Dates of attendance and graduation (or expected graduation date)
Your major and field of study
Your GPA (optional)
Courses you have taken related to the internship position you are applying for.
Standford University, Standfrod, BA
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Graduated in June 2021 with a 3.4 GPA
As a fresh intern candidate, the certificates can be the backbone of your CV. Here are a few tips on how to use these certificates effectively on your CV:
Ensure that you include all necessary information about that certificate as you did in the education section, such as the name of the institution that provides you that certificate, the start and finish dates that you attend that certification program, and the type of honors degree if it’s available.
Add a short description of your most essential gains from that certification program.
Don’t copy-paste the course descriptions from online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera. Try to describe your gains in your own words. You may be asked questions about the descriptions you add to your CV in the interview, and if you cannot answer these questions, it will reduce your credibility.
7. Work experience
I recommend using reverse chronological order to place your most recent experience first.
Begin each item with the institution’s name, location, dates, and job title (eg manager, volunteer).
For each experience, use at least three bullet points, beginning with strong action verbs, and make an effort to vary your action words.
Use keywords relevant to the position.
Use the present tense for ongoing activities and the past tense for activities you are no longer involved in.
Include only activities related to that job position. Avoid summarizing or explaining what a company or organization you’ve worked for before does.
When describing the job position you have added, be careful to add quantitative explanations as much as possible. Use numbers, amounts, percentages, and values. Which of the following job descriptions do you think sounds better?
Student Advisor: -Guided new students in finding accommodation. -Guided more than 100 students to find accommodation.
Full-stack Developer Intern: -Identified and reported bugs. -Identified and reported bugs, saving the company 25% of its costs during my internship period.
8. Soft skills and technical skills
You can shine your CV also with your skills. However, like the rest of your CV, you should also be concise in this section and choose your skills carefully.
The number of skills you can choose from is endless, but if you’re applying for an internship or traineeship position, it means you’re at the start of your career. You don’t need to add too many skills to your CV because doing so can overshadow your most important skills and make it look unprofessional.
According to a study, the top four soft skills that attract the attention of employers are listed as follows (Gray & Koncz, 2017):
Problem-solving skills (82.9 of employers)
To be able to work in a team. (82.9)
Written communication skills (80.3)
Leadership skills (72.6)
9. Language skills
Begin with your mother tongue and work your way down the list, beginning with the one in which you are most fluent.
Don’t forget to include any language certificates you have. Like any other skill, certifications are the best way to legitimize your language skills. Let’s say you don’t have any certificate, but you want to add an A2 level foreign language that you learned during your five months abroad to your CV. You can add this abroad experience as an equivalent to the certificate.
All languages you add should be divided into four categories: writing, listening, speaking, and reading. Different internship positions may necessitate a variety of language skills. For example, if you are applying for a job as a copywriter, your employer will be interested in your writing skills, whereas another employer may be more interested in your speaking skills to learn about your meeting management skills.