Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Resumes & CVs

Photo from Flickr Creative Commons.

Your resume is the cornerstone of a job search, often the first opportunity to promote your skills, expertise, and professional vision.

Promoting Yourself through Your CV or Resume

Your CV or resume is a document you write for one purpose – to get an interview. You will likely be competing with 50-200+ applicants for an interview so it is important that your future employer has a clear picture of how you can add value in a unique way.

Personal Branding

Personal branding is a method for distinguishing yourself from others with similar skills and abilities. You have 20-30 seconds to make your unique qualifications clear and compelling. In order to do this you first have to define your personal brand.

Ask yourself:

  • What three to five characteristics best describe you?
  • What are your strengths?
  • How are you unique?
  • What impression do you want people to have of you?
  • What do you have to offer (your skills, passions, capabilities, etc.)?
  • What specifically are your distinct advantages?
  • What extra value do you create that differentiates you from others?

Writing Powerful Descriptors of Your Experiences

The heart of your CV or resume is your description of your past experiences. Hiring managers focus on past experiences because they believe past performance is the best predictor of future performance. When you describe your experiences, you want to convey that you have done exactly what needs to be done in the position you are applying for. You also want to write in a deep and compelling way about your experiences – to go beyond the superficial and clearly communicate the personal brand you have defined.

To write powerful descriptors, ask yourself:

  • Which of my brand attributes are relevant to this experience? Which of my brand attributes will this experience most clearly highlight?
  • What was exciting to me about this experience?
  • What am I proud of in this experience?
  • What did I do that was unique?
  • What values do I have that underpinned my approach to this experience?

The 20-second Test

In order to determine if your CV or resume is communicating your brand effectively, ask a few people to scan it for 20 seconds. Ask your readers what they learned about you. If your reader noticed in 20 seconds what you want employers to know about you, then you have an effective CV or resume. If not, you will need to revise to continue to strengthen your brand.

Students and alumni are welcome to submit their resumes or CVs for a review by one of our advisors. Resume/CV writing workshops will also be held during each semester; check the calendar for dates and times.