Teacher Teacher: Is my Résumé OK?

February 24, 2016

Hello world, and welcome to my column on Englishjer.com!

So far in the Teacher Teacher column, we’ve been looking at the English language from a rather academic point of view. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but learning English is more than just about getting good grades. Aside from increasing your chances to potentially impress Chris Evans, Niall Horan or even Gwen Stefani via Twitter, having a solid grasp of English also increases your chances of getting good jobs! This is no longer just killing two birds with one stone – the English language increases your chances of having a good career that’s set in stone!

However, having good English alone isn’t enough in today’s increasingly competitive job market. Knowing the English language is one thing, but knowing how to use it to secure a job is another thing. It’s just like when you’re trying to get attention from your loved ones. You wouldn’t speak to your loved ones the same way you’d speak to your friends! There is a certain way to create attract the attention of potential employers when you know how to use language the right way.

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That’s EJ, looking for a job.

So, without further ado, here are some tips on fine-tuning your language skills to get a job!

Beware: some terms and phrases may seem like they have same meaning, but they don’t!

Remember that moment when you found out the word “whatsoever” doesn’t share the same meaning as the word “whatever”? (If you didn’t already know that, a quick search in the dictionary will show you how different the two words are!) Well, when applying for a job, proceed with even more extra care and caution, as the job market can be chock-full of jargons which ironically also confuse those who already have jobs. So many terms seem to have the same meaning, when in fact they don’t.

One of the most easily confused terms in the job market are “CV” (that stands for “curriculum vitae”) and “résumé” (pronunciation: “rez-u-may”)

Wait a minute, a CV and résumé are two different things?!?

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Yes, they are!

The confusion occurs because some companies think they’re the same, when in fact they’re not. In a nutshell, a CV is full record of everything you’ve achieved so far. Publications, awards, honors, projects, you name it, and it goes into your CV! On the other hand, a résumé is a way for you to advertise yourself in one or two-pages. Because it’s technically you advertising yourself, a résumé can be creative and different for each employer. Basically, CV = long list, résumé = short advertisement.

Make sure you know what your potential employer actually wants: a CV or a résumé? It wouldn’t hurt to give them a call just to be extra sure!

By the way, speaking of résumés…

Don’t simply stuff everything but the kitchen sink into your CV or résumé!

The first time you learn a fancy English synonym is like a moment of revelation, because you’d probably be tempted to use the word almost all the time! However, when looking for jobs, you just can’t stuff every new word you’ve learned into your CV or résumé. Nobody likes a show-off, and so do companies.

It’s not about boasting what you have in hopes of impressing others; it’s about carefully selecting the best of what you have to leave a lasting impression. Some English words have no place in certain careers. For instance, if you were to work at a restaurant, you’d probably use the word “salt” instead of “sodium chloride” – which waiter would ask “Would you like less sodium chloride?” anyway?

Also, just because you have the experience and qualification doesn’t mean you have to mention it in your CV or résumé. Mentioning irrelevant matters may actually lower your chances of getting a job.

For example, if you’re applying to become a security engineer, it wouldn’t make any sense to mention that you’ve won the World Dancing Championship (not that there’s anything bad about dancing!). You’re competing with practically the entire nation, and companies want people who are more in line with their vision and mission.

So, choose to highlight items which a company may be interested in. Say for example, you’re applying to be a Public Relations Officer, and you’ve had experience in handling an event which involves dealing with people from different countries. That’s the kind of stuff which should be highlighted!

On the topic of highlighting things…

Do check your language!

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It would be quite a bummer to have the best résumé design and most relevant experiences included, only to be rejected because you misused several words or made quite a lot of grammatical errors. Some may grumble that people shouldn’t make a fuss out of small errors, but look at it this way – when something matters, you have to show that it really does matter, and the best way is by making sure things are perfect. For instance, if you ordered a limited edition Zayn Malik poster signed by the man himself, it would be frustrating if his signature is smudged or if the poster is crumpled. As a fan (no, the writer is not a fan of Zayn Malik!), you’d feel pretty sad, right? That’s exactly how employers would feel if there are language errors which really could have been avoided.

However, don’t feel bad if you feel your English is not as good as others. The advantage of having time to prepare a CV or résumé is that you can have other people to check it for you before you actually submit it. And if it’s really hard to find a friend who can help check the language used in your CV or résumé, there are always amazing proofreaders out there! Sure, you have to pay a small fee, but you wouldn’t want to end up paying for the consequences of sending an unedited CV or résumé

Last but not least, be yourself!

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to let your best qualities shine through your cover letter, CV, résumé, and whatever it is that you’re submitting to a potential employer. And the best way to do this is by resisting the temptation to download templates from the internet and simply changing a few words. Templates should only be an inspiration and nothing more. When you download a template from any website you find on Google, chances are that you’re not the only one downloading the same template. Companies receive a lot of applications regularly, and it gets pretty boring to see the same format and even the same language style.

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However, when you start from scratch, you’re able to deliver something original that comes from the heart. It’s like choosing the right words to say to the person you love – no, not your boyfriend/girlfriend, it could be your parents, siblings, relatives or dear friends! If you simply say sweet words which you’ve found on the internet, it can sound a bit insincere, fake and even make people cringe. But when you say something from the heart, you will win another heart, hopefully! Okay, this sounds too cheesy… But that’s how it works in the job market, the employers really want to fall in love with you at first sight (via your CV or résumé), so make it easy for them to fall in love with you by writing from the heart! No, this is not a Love Teacher column, this is Teacher Teacher @ Englishjer.com! -_-

These are just some tips which should come in handy when the time comes for you to apply for a job. We live in truly challenging times. In 2015, around 161,000 fresh graduates were unable to get a job (based government statistics and a research paper I’m currently writing), and one of the main reasons leading to this is command of the English language. So many fresh graduates get it wrong in the application process and make mistakes which deny them chances which they otherwise deserve, and it my sincerest hope that whoever is reading this article – yes, you! – will be able to secure a job by utilizing what we’ve covered in this column, as well as the other amazing articles here at Englishjer.com !

So, that’s all for this installment of Teacher Teacher! In the next article, we’ll be looking at something which is super handy for the academic world, the job market, and even relationships: public speaking!

Until next time!

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Mr. Nazriq Ahmad is a lecturer who enjoys being mistaken as a student because he believes learning is a lifetime process. He secretly dreams of becoming a rock star and can always be found with a guitar when not lecturing. Follow him (@nazriqahmad) and send him a thank you note!