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Tutorial: Write Your Master CV

This tutorial will help you create a master CV based on your career objective. You can then adapt it to a particular job ad or a spontaneous application.

Did you skip any steps?

Consult the page Create Your Master CV. You will learn how to lay the foundation for a great master CV in just five steps.

Important tips before you start writing

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Speak the recruiter’s language!

Make sure to use their vocabulary. Read job ads to get familiar with key words used in Québec in your target industry.

Explain and translate terms that might be unclear to the employer.

  • This includes software names and acronyms (e.g. BBA, MSc, IIROC or AEHEC).
  • Foreign contexts:
    • Write the Québec equivalents of your diplomas received outside of Canada. Employers need this information to properly evaluate your application. If you are a newcomer and have received a comparative evaluation of your studies, make sure to include this on your CV. If you have yet to receive one, request an evaluation as soon as possible.
    • Briefly describe any companies outside Quebec.
    • Will the titles of jobs you held abroad mean anything to Quebec employers? Learn more by reading job offers, management reviews and publications, LinkedIn profiles of professionals in your target field, HEC’s Careers in Management section, or other related materials.

    See some CV examples

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    Make things easier for the recruiter

    Your CV should be easy to read and review.

    • List your experience in chronological order (most to least recent).
    • Consistently apply the same style and format, for example, the diploma and school name. If writing in English, all achievements start with a verb in the past tense. All responsibilities start with a verb in the present tense if it is your current position—otherwise, use the past tense.
    • It's best to keep your CV to one page if possible, but you can extend it to two pages if you have a lot of experience.
    • Use a standard font, such as Calibri 11.
    • Dates should all be in bold font and aligned to the right.
    • Section titles should be easy to distinguish, with capitalized, bold or underlined text.

    Make sure your CV is clear and consistent.

    • Make sure there is a clear link between section headings and the content that follows.
    • Use reverse chronological order in each section.
    • Pay close attention to the layout, making sure to use consistent alignment and spacing and only one bullet type.
    Have a unique CV? Don’t make these mistakes!

    Looking for a job that values creativity? You may want to add a unique touch, such as in the formatting, colours or graphics.

    But not so fast! The format of your CV should emphasize your skills and knowledge. There is no point in drawing attention to less important parts of your CV just because you like the way it looks!

    Also, keep in mind that some recruiters use CV scanning software that cannot read certain graphics. A CV with graphics can actually cause problems.

    Decide on the section order and content

    • Sections that should be included in every CV: Education, Work Experience and Computer Skills.
    • You can add other headings if they relate to other solid experience that is in line with your career objective, such as extracurricular activities, or interests and hobbies. Ask yourself if this information matters to a recruiter and if it fits your career goals.
    • Organize your sections. Give pride of place to the most important information—put whatever is most directly related to your career objectives at the top. For example, start with Education if you have little experience in Canada that relates to your career objectives.

    See some CV examples

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    Your contact info

    Example

    Antoine Dumas
    1212, rue St-Denis
    Montréal (Québec) H2T 4Z4

     514 333-3333
    antoine.dumas@hec.ca
    www.linkedin.com/in/antoinedmas
    Langues : français, anglais, espagnol

    • Your first and last name in the top left corner. Recruiters should not focus on an applicant’s origins, so don’t emphasize this.
    • Your home address. Employers generally prefer candidates who do not need to relocate from hundreds or thousands of kilometres away. For example: Place of residence: Toronto. Place of work: Montreal.
    • Your email address with nothing eccentric in it, just your first and last name.
    • Your LinkedIn address (short URL). The vast majority of employers will want to read your LinkedIn profile, especially if your CV catches their attention. Think your LinkedIn profile needs work? See our tutorial page.
    • Languages: the languages you feel comfortable working in. Do not mention your level of proficiency—that's for the employer to decide.
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    Your education

    ExAmple
    Bachelor of Business Administration, HEC Montréal
    • Specialization in finance
    • Selected for a semester of study at Helsinki School of Economics
    • GPA: 3.7/4.3 (with honours)
    2019

    Include your completed or ongoing education program, last to first.

    Specify the following:

    • Your college studies, if you are an undergrad. If you are a graduate student, leave this out. Do not include your high school education.
    • The name of your program, school and specialization. The official name of this school is HEC Montréal.
    • The year you received your degree. Haven't finished yet? Write the month and year you plan to finish.
    • Your GPA or specialization average, if equal to or higher than 3.5 out of 4.3.
    • Scholarships you received and why you received them.
    • Semesters you studied abroad or on international campuses.
    • If you are looking for work outside of Québec, add HEC Montréal’s accreditations under the Education section (AACSB International, EQUIS and AMBA).

    If you are currently completing or have recently completed a program, write the courses you have taken that are related to your objective.

    Include any other training or studies related to this position.

    Current and former graduate students – your thesis.

    • Your thesis should be mentioned under the Education or Academic projects section.
    • Describe what you did and the results obtained as if you were describing your work experience. Read the following section to learn how.

    See some examples of graduate program CVs

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    Your work experience

    Example

    Rimbeaux Brothers Inc., Montréal – Assistant Controller

    (A public works company, $7 million in revenue, 3 employees in the accounting department in Montréal.)

    2015 to 2018

    Drafted monthly cost and budget reports; entered month-end figures; followed up on transactions, invoices and client accounts; reviewed employee time sheets.

    Achievements

    • Developed recommendations that were approved by management to automate and reduce time spent on processing time cards (30% faster).

    This section is crucial. It shows what you have accomplished in a professional setting.

    • Internships and supervised projects can be added here. Write “internship” or “intern” in parentheses.
    • Detail your experience and responsibilities related to your career objective. Clearly distinguish between responsibilities and achievements.
    • Experience that is not directly related to this objective can be included under the “Other experience” section. Don’t go into detail on these jobs.
    • If the company is not well known or is located abroad, write a short description of it. Write the name of the city if it is in Québec, the city and province if it is elsewhere in Canada and the country if it is abroad.
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    Your computer skills

    Example

    SPSS, Photoshop, Google AdWords et Analytics, Word, PowerPoint, Excel

    This section is mandatory. Only list the software programs that are relevant to the job you’re targeting.

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    Other sections

    These sections can give your CV a boost, provided that they contain relevant information that merits emphasis. Otherwise, you are only weakening your CV by providing too much information that is not of interest to the employer.

    Examples of section headings

    • Professional associations or groups
    • Business volunteering
    • Transferable skills
    • University contests and competitions
    • Associations
    • Interests and hobbies
    • Publications
    • Achievements

    Advice

    • The section heading should clearly reflect the content it introduces. If possible, choose a heading related to your specialization. Example: Marketing projects.
    • Avoid catch-all headings, such as “Other.”
    • Ideally, you should explain the context of the activity. Example: Acted as a reviser at the CV clinic of Career Management Services – HEC Montréal.
    • Be very concrete in your description of your projects and work, starting with an action verb. Describe an issue or objective and include the dates, software used, results obtained, etc.
    • If you have too much experience, group it into categories and keep your examples to a minimum. Which ones should you keep? Whichever ones produced the biggest results, or took place in a well-known setting, and are relatively recent.

    See some CV examples



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