How to prepare a CV?

Samia Lira

Let’s start with a practical example. In Figure 1 you can see the CV of Wasiq Ameen, the founder of Shabash Fakibaj when he was a fresh graduate. And in the figure 2, is the CV of his friend.

Figure: 1

Figure: 2

Now, let’s compare between these two.

Figure 1 is the CV which Wasiq prepared when he was a fresh graduate. In the CV, he had mentioned about his not-so-high CGPA, undergrad thesis, technical and software skills taught in the courses and language skills comprising of English and Bangla. In extra-curricular activities section, he has mentioned his involvement in coaching, designing logo and poster, and playing football.

Now look at his friend’s CV. It’s obvious that the CGPA of his friend is much higher. Apart from that, he has teaching experience and one publication. He has some leadership experience in some non-government organizations. In his language skill, it is a plus point that he learnt French. Besides these, he could provide the GRE and IELTS scores since he completed these exams in early periods. Also, his extra-curricular activities were not limited to football and logo designing. Rather he was in the Dean’s list, achieved Hult Prize and some other awards which leveled up his CV.

It is clear that, these two CVs are not in a level compete. But this can’t end here.

Well, CGPA can’t be upgraded now and therefore a teaching position in a university can’t be achieved either. Neither the thesis can be changed. Then, what would the solution be? Experiences like leadership experience, language skill, technical skills, publication – each of these elements are accessible to you and you can develop these even after graduation. Now look at figure 3 which is the CV of Wasiq after one year of graduation. What are the major differences?

Figure : 3

To begin with, he enriched his professional experience and published his thesis work. For professional experience, often it happens that you have to do some ill-paid or unpaid jobs which can add a good token to your CV. Moreover, GRE and IELTS score being placed just after CGPA, has contribute to cover the lacking in CGPA to some extent. Next, through professional experience, his technical skill also got developed. The extra-curricular activities part remained almost unchanged. However, some external links such as- of Researchgate profile and some videos about his research as well as the references were added.

Now, if I compare the CV of Wasiq and that of his friend and evaluate the tags individually, it doesn’t look so indecent. Thus, in one year, he leveled up his CV in a state so that it looks competitive and gets upper hand with respect to a high CGPA contender. In many occasions, a professionally experienced candidate is more valuable than a candidate with high CGPA.

Tips and pitfalls:

  1. Keep in mind that, it doesn’t matter how well-designed the CV looks to you; rather how it seems to the professors or the evaluators is the matter that gets counted. Don’t try to mesmerize the professors by applying your graphic designing skills here. Keep it simple, black and white while making CV for graduation study. Professors come across hundreds of CVs and they are inclined to trace the information about you as fast as possible. So, don’t turn your CV into a mumbo jumbo with complicated designs in it.
  2. The first mistake to avoid is to provide your photo. In the perspective of Bangladesh, it’s totally okay to provide your photo. But internationally, it is something to be frowned upon lest it should invoke racism or favoritism. So, no matter how handsome or pretty you look in your photo, save it to yourself for now (or upload it in Facebook maybe?)
  3. At first put your name, address, contact and LinkedIn account. The importance of LinkedIn account link is that, things which you couldn’t elaborate in your CV, you can provide them in LinkedIn. The heading of each part, such as ‘Professional Experience’ or ‘Academic Credentials’ should be clear, concise and bold.
  4. The attributions should be listed in a reverse chronological order. That means, the latest one for example, your achievements of 2021 will be in the upper level than those of 2020. It is important to mention the time period, which means the month and year of an activity.
  5. CV shouldn’t exceed 2 pages. Usually, professors or the evaluators from university read only the first page of the CV and don’t even bother to browse the second page. However, a third page is too much for a CV.
  6. Keep the line spacing 1 to 1.5. In order to cram all your information within 2 pages, don’t make the line spacing smaller since it is the first thing to catch the eyes of a viewer. 
  7. Try to use font type ‘Times New Roman’, ‘Arial’ or ‘Calibri’ in the CV body. Avoid using informal fonts like ‘Comic Sans’ unless you want your emails to be thrown into the spam folder.
  8. The font size shouldn’t be too small or too large. Size 12 to 16 are considered appropriate.
  9. Try to be specific in mentioning professional or academic contribution. For example, don’t say “I did in vivo research on rodent model”. There can be various types of experiments one can do on numerous species of rodents. Rather you can say that “I did RT-PCR and ELISA on mouse (swiss albino) blood upon intra-peritoneal injection of fluoride salt.” 
  10. For disciplines like engineering, GRE is considered much important. In that case, provide the detailed scores in the first page. It might be the case that you cut a good figure in the quantitative part but the score is not so well in the verbal part. What will you do then? Will you provide the total score and just the quantitative score? No, you should give the whole score including the analytical writing assessment part, even if it seems a poor figure to you. Otherwise, the professor might not contact you at all assuming the worst-case scenario. In case of disciplines like Biological Sciences, to my best knowledge, GRE score is not presently counted with high value. So, choose your way according to your area of interest.
  11. For applying in the Master’s or PhD programs, don’t boom your CV with the extra-curricular activities. Undoubtedly extra-curricular activities add value to your academic and professional life. You can surely gain discipline, communication and teamwork skills by playing football or involvement in a volunteering organization. But being champion in football for five times or playing tennis for ten years won’t impress the professor unless your research or professional experience are up to the mark. After all, professor is not hiring you to play football, is he?
  12. Make a basic CV just after graduation. It might look short or indecent initially, but it will give you an idea about the factors you need to work on. Then make your seniors review your CV. Shabash Fakibaj will evaluate your CV for free if you send it at (not through Facebook). The criterion is, you must send your CV in MS word format because we can’t provide feedback in the pdf format.
  13. Sometimes universities in Europe ask for providing CV in Europass format. Don’t fret about it. Europass is just an online editor where one can easily make a CV. If you first make your CV in the format discussed so far and put all your information exactly in the same sequence in their online editor, they will provide you the pdf. Sometimes in this case, there occurs a problem in the page break between the version you see in the online editor and the pdf version you receive. Keep an eye on that and try to handle it smartly through rearrangement.
  14. Those of you are sending CV to universities in Japan and Germany should keep in mind that, documents are preliminarily checked by the university admission office rather than the professors. So, if the university admission mentions particularly about something, for example- about your medium of education (which is mostly ‘English’), then it must be mentioned in the CV. Else, irrespective of how decent your CV is, that will not reach up to professors’ hand because of not meeting up some simple criteria.
  15. Be ready to turn the CV into different formats such as Europass format or a unique format for a university from Japan or several types of formats for universities in Australia. Always keep your CV updated so that it conveys the latest information about you.

Watch our video on CV-writing here!

For your own fund and scholarship winning CV developed by current internationally funded students abroad, join the Abartan classes here!

Best wishes with your graduate admission venture!