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Tackling the CV

Student blogger David Adelman takes a fresh look at writing his CV
February 21, 2012
By David Adelman

Recently, the Department of Journalism began posting summer internships at places such as AOL Canada, CBC’s London bureau, and the Montreal Gazette. I decided it was time to take a fearless look at my CV, and tried to dig out a recent copy. It turns out, the last time I updated it was when I graduated from Cegep!

I knew I badly needed to update my CV, but I didn’t know where to start. I decided to call Concordia’s Counselling and Development office to see if they had any advice, and they put me in touch with Career and Placement Services (CAPS). I made an appointment with Nicole, a part-time CAPS advisor, who is currently pursuing a degree in Communication and Cultural Studies. She has also been involved for several years as an actress in the theatre world.

A manual compiled by professionals from CAPS simplifies the process of writing a cover letter and CV.

I briefly introduced myself to Nicole, and shared with her my aspirations of a career in broadcast journalism. Searching for a job as a broadcast journalist isn’t any different than finding acting work, Nicole explained. “The trick is making a strong demo reel.” A demo reel is a visual portfolio between 30 seconds and five minutes long that showcases the applicant’s best work. “A good demo is very important if you want to be recognized in the field. But you still need a strong CV,” she said. 

Following a manual compiled by professionals from CAPS that simplifies the process of writing a cover letter and CV, Nicole gave me a list of easy steps to follow.
  1. Keep it clean and simple. The first step is choosing one or two fonts and sticking to them. Nicole mentioned that it’s very easy for students to forget or get carried away trying to make their CV look fancy. 
  2. Speak with the active voice. The trick is to create a language that employers can easily understand. When describing actions, Nicole recommended using powerful words such as “initiating, contributing, or engaging.”
  3. Quality over quantity. Students may think that employers will be looking to see how much work they have done. Nicole said it’s more important for them to focus on their strongest skills learned through job-related experiences. “It’s not about how much you’ve achieved, but how well you achieved it,” she said.
While Nicole and I were looking at my old CV, I took a moment to read my old Cegep achievements: I wrote for the Vanier Outsider, which might not even be in print anymore, and I published poetry and short stories in Soundings 2008. It was nice to remember old projects and achievements.
Nicole told me that, unlike candidates applying for business or law positions, applicants in arts-related fields can be a little more creative. Laws can be broken, in other words, as long as the page itself is simple to read and aesthetically pleasing. For example, while the education and language sections remain the same, career-related experience can be noted as media-related experience, or subdivided into on-camera experience, video-editing experience, etc.
I left CAPS with my new CV in hand and a feeling of accomplishment, excited to apply to the various journalism internships posted by my department. Now I just have to work on that demo reel.
How about you? How are you going to make yourself stand out in the field of applicants for your dream job?

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