(4) Four steps to improve your economic situation

June 17, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.


Told from the most unreal situation to the one most likely, people’s money comes from three different sources:

    First: You won the Powerball jackpot.
    Second: Your parents are millionaire and, you, of course, get part of their money.
    Third: Your money comes from a job you do during some hours per day.

If you belong to the first or second group, do not spend your time reading this article. Instead, use your money and head for the sake of your family, friends and others who were not as fortunate as you (if you are intelligent) or do whatever you want with it and live up with the consequences of your wrong actions by wasting your substance with riotous living at the end (if you are an idiot). For those who belong to the third group, probably most readers in my opinion, it might be important to know how to improve our economic situation. For those people, the following steps:

Step 1: Settle your debts, if you have any, to start from zero

Debts are like popcorn: You just put three popcorn kernels into a sauce pan with hot oil, and moments later, you will have more than you can imagine. Let your debts grow and you will quickly be strangled by the burden of them. There is no growth when you are overwhelmed with debts since interests will devour your salary. Sooner than later, you will get to a point where you can only pay interests while the amount of your debt remains intact or, worse still, keeps growing. Specially for those who do not have experience in money matters, I do not recommend to get into debt in order to start, for example, some business, particularly these days when more and more people are taking high risks and investing in almost every possible area. Your risks are high your chances are low.

Step 2: Reduce consumption and avoid unnecessary expenditure

Everybody knows people who have an excellent salary and, despite of that, have to juggle to make ends meet. In the opposite direction, there are a lot of people who live with a very modest salary, but without economic worries. Where is the magic wand? It does not exist. The difference between these two parts is the way money is administered. If you impose restrictions on your expenditure today by buying, for example, just a slice of cake, you will be able to buy a whole cake in the future. The point is not to take a vow of poverty, but not to try to live in a level of wealth where you are not at present, considering your current salary, a level that goes beyond your economic strength. Do not buy silly and unnecessary things just for social pressure and live according to your real standard of living in concomitance with your salary. In short, don’t live beyond your income.

Step 3: Close your wallet and save as much as you can

There are dozens of excuses for not saving money: Low salary, high cost of living, etc. and most of them are… Inexcusable! Even in heart-rending poverty conditions it is possible to save money. The issue is if you have the firm determination to start first and keep doing it later. If you work hard on the step 2, you might find yourself at the end of the month in a very pleasant and until now unusual situation: With money on your hands. But in order to see that, your efforts must be directed toward the achievement of your goal, cleansed of all prejudices. Many people, when they make a purchase, take the decision on social pressure grounds, because of the whims of fashion or buy something on an impulse. I only have two pairs of shoes and do not have the least intention to buy more since, within my logic reasoning format, they are enough to satisfy my two feet. But do not worry, it is not necessary to live in the strange way I live. What you will really need is a saving plan. Make it, adhere to it and let it “roll”. Make the necessary adjustments to save 5% at first, 10% later until you can reach the desired goal: Between 20%-30% if you have a family with children and 35%-45% if you are single.

Step 4: Prepare yourself to make profitable investments

If your source of income comes exclusively from your salary, the only way you can lead a financially comfortable life is if you belong to the board of management at your company or if you have a traditionally well-paid career. But in practice, people who are bosses constitute a mere fist and not all of us have the capacity to be doctors, professors at some prestigious university, computer engineers, etc. This situation gives us only one option: To invest. Prior steps were smoothing the path to get here, which is, in the end, our main goal. Your salary should be some kind of parachute that will not let you drop abruptly in case of emergency, but investment is what will help you fly. But, what should I invest in? When and how should I invest my money? As you can see, the topic is as complex as important for our future and questions to answer might be many. So, let’s divide it into two sections and please wait for the next article: Steps to invest with better chances and low risk.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Five (5) steps to get on well with neighbours

February 26, 2017


By Eddy Montilla.

People from different cultures usually have different ways to deal with problems in which neighbours are involved. A Japanese student told me once that she quarreled with her neighbor over their natural boundary fences. For almost 10 years, they did not speak each other. Perhaps unwittingly, they made some kind of mutual agreement that consisted in taking out the garbage at different hours to avoid seeing each other.

“How is your relationship with her now?” I asked my student, just for curiosity.

”Now?” She said. “Now it is fine; we can say: Hello!”

     In opposite direction, I remember having seen two neighbours in the Dominican Republic fighting for a “piece of banana peel” in the morning and drinking and singing together in the evening. Regardless of what the reasons (problems) may be and the possible solutions you may take, to deal with quarrels related to people who live near you is always delicate and problematic. Let’s see some steps that can help you not to be in that position.

Step 1: Make your greeting your best support

     The “everybody knows that” phrase is in fact one of the things we neglect more. Everybody knows how important to greet is and despite of that, we don’t do it as we should. Whenever the situation arises, greet your neighbours. Greet them with a slight smile. You don’t have to start a conversation if you don’t want to. You don’t have to establish an in-depth relationship with them if that’s not part of your plan, but the benefits of greeting them is undeniable. Even if you are a nerd, unsociable and grumpy person (I hope you are not!), a single greeting will make your neighbours perceive that you are a nice person who makes them to be lucky enough to have you living near them. When people do not greet, rumors swirl and problems approach.

Step 2: Do not reach the breaking point

     Arguments among neighbours do not difer too much from those people have with husbands and wives: It usually starts with a simple fact, one thing, but later, someone brings another thing up, everything gets complicated and you know the rest. In an atmosphere of great tension, mistakes tend to pile up. So, try to find a better moment to resolve your differences.

Step 3: Do not talk to “B neighbours” about problems you have with “A neighbours”

     Neighbours are like members of a family as we said before, and therefore, they share something in common: They have to struggle to keep secrets. If for a cruel twist of fate, your differences change direction (B instead A), what do you think he or she will do with all things you said about the other neighbours? If you need a piece of advice, ask for it to your friend instead.

Step 4: Think twice before taking actions that can jeopardize forever your relationships with your neighbours

     When things go wrong with a person who lives far from you, it is easy to take another street if you want to avoid him or her. That’s, however, impossible when this person lives some meters away from your property. You cannot sell your house. Neither can he (she). You don’t want to move, neither does he (she). To live near a person you dislike is like a true copy of Hell. Every move he takes, every sound he makes will be hurting you. So, when you have problems or are about to, think of the step 2, and don’t take actions you can regret later. Don’t put your foot on the accelerator; apply the brakes instead.

Step 5: Keep in mind how valuable a good neighbor can be

     You are sick and cannot take your children to school. Your neighbours can do it while taking theirs too. This is only one example, but like this one, there are dozens of situations when our neighbours get us off the hook. Neighbours are your closest relatives. They are the first ones to come to the aid of you when you are in trouble. Then, it is wise to be in good terms with them because if you throw your relationship with your neighbours overboard for a quarrel, you will have lost people who can rescue if you fall out of the boat.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reseved.

(6) Six steps for a good job interview

July 27, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


Not to be called for a job interview hurts less than the bad news about being rejected because those who belong to the second position usually say: “I was so close this time…” A lot of people see their dreams of working for a particular company evaporate because their mistakes during the interview ruin their chances of getting the job. If you are reading this article is because you will have an interview soon. Take a look at these steps before, and perhaps, they can help you.

Step 1: rehearse before the interview

     If you are not a person gifted in words, you should start from this point: Rehearse possible questions and answers to gain confidence and control nervousness. Confidence comes from the fact of having practiced in advance, which means you will be treading on familiar grounds, and this
practice will make you feel that it is not the first time you face this situation, so you will be able to have your interview without apprehension.

Step 2: Get dressed in accordance with the position that you are applying for

     Little things have the peculiarity of creating big impressions. A boss does not expect you to come wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase if you are applying for a carpenter job, but he does not expect you to come wearing a uniform and holding a handsaw either, especially if you are applying for a position that traditionally requires a formal dress code.

Step 3: show confidence without falling into the other extreme: overconfidence

     An immediate boss or supervisor is always afraid of an indecisive person who has been hired since his job will increase, and his salary will remain as it is. So, during your job, you should show that you are naturally strong and firm, a self-confident person about your job, but at the same time, a person who can also be flexible enough to listen to the others and reach an agreement. Except for those situations where theory and practical exams are required, candidates are not asked to show all they know during an interview. It means that words might be decisive, so make them your best weapon in the good sense of the word, but be careful with them too. You have probably heard about many people who got hurt with their own weapons, right? Therefore, avoid being overconfident and exaggerations when you have to talk about your capabilities. Do not sell yourself as one of the know-it-alls of this generation who can solve any problem, but as a person who can contribute to the firm’s success. People usually hate the first person because he or she could act dishonestly and love the second one because he or she helps without causing problems.

Step 4: control your emotions and show a happy countenance

     After his exam, Oliver said to his friends: “I did it badly in my exam!” Then, when everything has finished and he’s checking the answers, he responds correctly to almost all questions. I am sure that something similar to this story has happened to your friends or perhaps to you. It is a good example about how emotions without control can ruin our projects. The point here is not to be free from pressure or nerves (everybody has such kind of feelings during a job interview), but to find a way to control them. Besides, do not forget to smile since a smile and happy countenance can work miracles. Remember that nobody wants to work with a person whose face looks like a pit-bull terrier.

Step 5: Handle your answers in a way that you do not highlight your abilities and needs, but your contribution to the firm’s success and its needs.

     This is probably the most important step, and despite that, the most underestimated. During a job interview, people tend to respond and talk giving the impression or suggesting that they can do this and can do that. It is something like… “I have studied a lot, have a lot of experience and I am, therefore, the perfect candidate for this position”. However, a boss has a different approach to this situation. I personally believe that in most cases, he is wrong, but on the other hand, I know that, putting it in quite practical terms, he is right when he thinks that the only perfect person is the owner for being the owner and the person who can do many things is himself because he is the boss. It is absolute illusory to think that you can get better results by acting and talking about your skills, accolades, etc., like other candidates do in order to impress the employer. Show your contribution, your flexibility to work in group and individually, your commitment to the company, etc., and you will have better chances to get the job.

Step 6: Be punctual

     I do not think it is necessary to explain this subject in great depth: If you are late when things matter most, you will also be late for daily things at office. To all of this must be added the stress caused by haste.

     This paragraph has nothing to do with the steps mentioned before, but with the words thanks. If I am lucky and my pieces of advice helped you to get the job you wanted, rather than an e-mail to say thank you, I prefer that you donate 1% of your first salary for a donation to charity.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

(7) Seven steps to achieve a goal or objective

June 21, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.


Only few people can achieve goals relatively easy. The rest of the people either struggle with their objectives or they simply cannot get them. we call these few people genius, and we admire, envy or hate them. But the truth is that you do not have to be a highly-gifted person in order to get a goal. The following steps can not only prove it, but help you to get your objectives too.

Step 1: Define clearly and exactly what your goal is

     Most people want to get an objective, but they can’t even specify what they really want. Then, how do you pretend to get something that you don’t know? This story illustrates very well what I want to say: One day, M. P. stopped working, drew her chair up to mine and told me: “Eddy, I know what I want to be: An artist, I want to be a singer. You, by the way, are a terrible singer, but good at giving pieces of advice. I am sure you can help me.” She said.

     “Do you want to be an amateur or a professional singer? A soloist or a member of a band? And since a question brings another question, do you want to be a member or the leader of the band? What kind of public do you want to sing for? What kind of music do you want to sing?”

     “Too many questions.” She told me. M. P. made a small band and started to play the piano and sing. Years later, the band broke up, her goal evaporated and she never, never sang or played the piano again. For me, it would have been very easy to tell her on the day she approached me: “Learn, practice and work hard.” After all, these general guidelines are what people and books usually say. But it is obvious that it is not enough, and the proof is convincing: People do not usually get the goals they set out.

     When you specify your goal, the distance becomes shorter (you can take a shortcut!), your goal is less complex and easier to achieve. If you still hesitate about this idea, just answer this question: What is easier for a boxer, to fight one or eight boxers simultaneously inside a ring? So let’s start from here: Define your aim and fight just one boxer.

Step 2: Identify things that prevent you from getting your aim

     Perhaps you do not know exactly how to get the goal you have set, but I am sure that you are aware of what things deter or prevent you from getting it. If your goal is to buy a house, to stop squandering money is as important as to find a way about how to improve productivity for your finance. Not to drink excessively or smoke can be as necessary as to eat healthy food and exercise frequently if your goal is to be healthy. Find as soon as possible these negative elements, bad habits and buried them. If you can do that, you already have in your hands between 25% and 30% of your desired goal.

Step 3: Divide your goal into small an easier to achieve objectives

     When objectives take a long time to be achieved, people tend to look the place where they are now and worry about how far they are from the end (goal) and finally they gave up half-way between the two points. It has happened to you, to me and almost to everybody. Perhaps, there are different solutions to this problem, but as far as I know, only one is effective and safe: Divide your long (or difficult) goal into consecutive small goals that can be achieved in a shorter period of time.

     I live on the top of a small hill, steep enough to see ships from the balcony of my apartment. In the evening, after work, I usually walk home to keep my body in good shape. On days when things don’t go off smoothly, the slope looks steeper than ever and my apartment further. Instead of fixing my gaze on the hill to think about how far I am from home, I look for the nearest lamp post and say to myself: “The only thing I have to do is to get there.” Once I got the post, my next goal is to get the next one and so on, and almost without realizing it, I am opening my door. You cannot lift 200 kilograms, but if you divide your heavy load into several and small parts, you can take it everywhere.

Step 4: Make a plan and hold on tight to it

     “To have a bad plan is always better than to have nothing.” My father always told me when he taught me how to play chess. When I grew up, I realized how true his words were and how important to apply plans to our lives is. “I want this” is an emotional phrase that can give you at most some sporadic motivation. A plan about how to get what you want is the real and rational thing that will help you to get the aim. Make a plan: Write down the way you can get your objective, the means you already have to get it, the means you lack and need, how long it will take to get it, obstacles, write down what you have to do every single day, etc. Make adjustments when necessary, but remember: Hold on tight to it.

Step 5: Be persistent and consistent

     People generally gave up working on their projects because their actions are pushed by emotions. Bad decision: Feelings usually last for days only. You don’t get anything in that way or in short period of time. The plan in the step 4 will make you think and subsequently act in a logical and objective way. It will teach you to work hard on what you want, to keep hammering the head of the nail until you don’t see it anymore. That is called “persistency” and those who know this word and its meaning can tell you how hard to be persistent might be, but also how fruitful and helpful is.

     As for the other idea, you cannot expect to achieve an important objective if you work on it whenever you feel motivated or whenever you remember that it has passed a long time since the last day you were working on your objective. To be consistent does not mean you have to work every day on the same matter, but you should have at least regular intervals between the moments you are working on your goal and the moments you don’t. Consistency is vital to achieve a goal and it is extremely related to persistency: When you are persistent, you are consistent and vice versa. But how can we be consistent, how can we get the strength to get this difficult characteristic? The next step will give you the clue.

Step 6: Monitor every day the plan you made to get your goal

     This is the key of everything. When you made your plan, you assigned a specific day to each activity that should be carried out in order to get your objective. Do not go to bed without reviewing what you did on that day for your goal. Remember that each task done and reviewed will provide motivation, and above all, confidence to go for the next one. To check every day what you want will keep you focused on your goal, will help you not to forget what you are fighting for and, therefore, it will help you with your lack of consistency.

Step 7: Set feasible goals in life

     To achieve a particular goal makes people feel satisfied, not happy as many people wrongly believe. I have seen hundreds of people fighting, struggling to achieve a goal and when they finally get it, sometime later, they say: “And now what?” So, don’t run after things that are evidently beyond your capabilities since it will make you feel frustrated for a long time, and even when you get them, the same question will arise: “And now what?” Instead, I recommend you to fill your life with multiple and practical goals that involve not only your personal accomplishments, but involve other people, goals that help to improve people’s lives as well as yours. It is the real goal that can bring long lasting joy to your life, and when the tiresome question (and now what?) arises again, you will have a nice answer for it: “I will go for another goal!”

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

(5) Five steps to deal with stress

December 27, 2015


By Eddy Montilla.

Step one: Identify the real origin of your stress

     You cannot find good solutions for a problem if you don’t know it well. So your first step should be to determine the source of your stress. Unfortunately, when dealing with this issue, people usually tend to mistake the concept of origin for place. R.H. told me once that he was about to explode with anger because of the stress of his job.

“Does your stress come from the type of job you are doing, the amount of hours of work, etc.?” I asked him.

“No.” He said. “The problem is that I don’t like the way my boss is. This man…”

     R.H. blamed his job for his stress when, in fact, it was the result of something quite different: Affinity, working relationships, etc., things that require different solutions, by the way. Take your time and look carefully until you discover the real source of your stress. Once detected, you will be in good position to fight against it.

Step two: If your stress increases, take a break as soon as possible

     Stress is cumulative, but different from money, for example, that can be represented by a mountain of bills in front of your eyes, it is invisible (what we can see is its negative reactions), and that makes it more difficult to cope with it. The most dangerous thing about stress is that it is too weak and manageable in the beginning that we don’t worry about it until it becomes too strong and almost uncontrollable to combat it. So the point here is not to reach that level that goes beyond your strength. If you are overwhelmed by stress, take a break to reduce its negative effects. The more stressful your work, the more important it is to take breaks from time to time. You can go back to your work when you feel more emotionally stable.

     Keep going with your job until you get it done once for all is far away from being a good method because emotional and physical problems caused under stress are irreparable. Besides, it is a dubious way to deal with problems since you will be in the same position tomorrow with new problems to solve.

Step three: Make use of techniques and methods of relaxation

     To keep your stress under control requires time, patience and effort. Until you reach that level, this step will be very helpful. There are dozens of good techniques that can help you to feel relaxed. Just chose one that fits your likes and physical condition (otherwise, you will add to your life one more reason to feel stressed!). Some people run, do sports or yoga. Other people go the movies, sit somewhere deep in contemplation, etc. Observe that most of these items on the list need a particular place to be practiced (a gym, park, etc.) or something in particular (a book, etc.). I like breathing as a method to relieve stress (it is free and we can do it at anytime, anywhere). There are a lot of fine books about this topic, but I don’t think it is something that needs a lot of preparation. After all, don’t we breathe all the time? With a smile played about your lips, just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Repeat the same action a couple of times avoiding abrupt breathing and you will see good results immediately. It is very effective, especially if you are about to commit an act of reckless folly due to stress. Besides, it is free!!

Step four: Learn to coexist with people in your society

     Have you seen how people get angry with drivers or are annoyed at having to wait in line? That’s what I call unnecessary stress caused by trivialities. Stress coming from these things is, in my opinion, as absurd as the word “rejuvenation”. If you don’t have control of the number of cars that will be flowing, the level of inefficiency of the person who is talking to you when you go to some place for a service or the number of people who left their houses to do exactly the same thing as you intend to do, then what is the point in getting mad and fill your heart with stress? We have to understand that there are millions of different people in the world with different opinions, likes, etc. And since you cannot change the world to the way you like, you cannot buy a new one for you only or move to another place, then we have to learn to coexist with people (good people, bad people, smart people, stupid people, and so on) and to be tolerant of routine things of life and society.

Step five: Don’t be slave to hurry or worries

     Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet, started its beautiful poem Cantares with this verse: “Everything comes to an end and everything stays forever.”, a deep understanding of human impotence and limitations. It really explains how absurd to lead a worry life is. With the passage of time, people have made life more difficult for themselves, and now, we don’t know how to get out of the hole in which we put ourselves. Just think that more than two thousand years ago, Jesus said the same as Machado did, but in its simplest form and in more practical manner: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?….Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Then, there is no real reason for excessive worries, there is no point in being in a hurry or living in that way. Just keep and live your life not to the rhythm of our crazy and present society, but to life itself. And believe me, your stress will start melting like an ice cube on a sunny day.

Copyright 2015 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

(4) Four steps to get along fine with your parents

August 6, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.

Your parents

P.G. needed 62 years to find a good way of reconciling the differences he had with his father, and he could enjoy that moment for 11 days, the exact time his father was in hospital before dying. Perhaps, the entry of this article sounds for you a little bit tragic, but I prefer to see it from a more realistic point of view: P. G was luckier than a turkey on Christmas Eve because when it comes to life, quality surpasses quantity, so the last 11 days of his situation made the difference. And now let’s take a look at the steps:

Step 1: Try to understand and accept your position in your family order

     Many people, in particular today’s youth, think that family order is not important and there is no relevance between parents and children once they grow up. “I can decide by myself”, “I am an adult already” and other expressions push you to fight for an “independence” in your house without realizing that family slavery has never existed there. The same problem can be seen on TV programs and movies with their usual plot: Parents are against some absurd ideas. Their children do not pay attention to them and leave home to do all they want. At the end, they get everything and go back home as successful and amazing as Spiderman. There, their parents are waiting to hug them and congratulate them. Movies with the good intention to entertain, perhaps, but able to eliminate the ability to think and value properly, able to eliminate teenagers’ cerebral function and cause decerebration.

     Be careful with this situation. If you pretend to be a car and collide with reality, you will burst like popcorn and reality tells us that no matter what you do or achieve, in a family relationship, parents will always occupy the highest rank, and not because they gave you life, but because they belong to a different generation, which let them have more experience than you do despite your educational achievements. Perhaps your mother does not know how to turn your tablet on; perhaps your father cannot understand an inch of your conversation about technology, but I can assure you that they can be your professor about the most important thing: Life. In your family, you are number 2 and your parents are number 1. That does not put you in a lower position, but in your real place according to the natural circle of life. Time will come when you will be number one. In the meantime, learn from your parent’s experience.

Step 2: Pay more attention to your parent’s good intentions

     Every year my father came up with a new idea about some great business, and every year the result was not as good as he expected. And that has nothing to do with his abilities, but his attitude towards people in need led him to give away not only the benefits of the business, but the capital too! Instead of highlighting this problem, my brothers, my mother and I always valued his efforts since all he tried to do was for one beautiful goal: Our family well-being. Do not look the borders, but the center and you will discover that all your parents have done (despite their good decisions or mistakes) is for your own good. It’s true: Many times they have made terrible mistakes, but in general, the intention was good. Two thousand years has passed since that moment and nobody has been able to express this idea in a better and concise way than Jesus when he said that if your son asks for bread, you will not give him a stone, or a snake for fish. If you can understand this idea, you would never be so severe on them, especially when they are getting old and you are an adult.

Step 3: Be tolerant of your parent’s attitude towards you

     Before your parent’s eyes, you are and always will be their child no matter how old you are. This perception is retroactive and prospective, I mean it is applicable to the past and future. Many things can only be understood fully when you experience them at the same level. To be a father or a mother is one of them. When you become a father or a mother, you will probably be doing the same things that you criticize today from your parents just because parent’s love for their children does not have limits.

Step 4: As time passes, make adjustments to your relationship with your parents

     In the past, social and technological changes were slow and progressive. Today, they are fast and fickle, and that’s why many parents have difficulties to cope with these changes, understand them and handle them properly. Many of them never get this level, not because their ideas are behind the times, but because their frame, their way of thinking corresponds to a different ideological model. If you make adjustments, especially as your parents get old, your relationship will be better.

     Finally, something that I have repeated to everybody ad nauseam: There are thousands of people who lost their parents at early age. They would have loved to have the opportunity to spend time with them, no matter how good or bad, saint or evil they could have been. If you were blessing with this chance, what are you waiting?

Copyright 2015 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights reserved.

(4) Four steps to write a curriculum vitae or résumé

May 2, 2015

By Eddy Montilla.


Those times when people were working all or almost all their life for the same company are today a thing of the past. Even in countries like Japan where workers where clung to the same company until they retire, you can see people these days looking for new jobs. And you are right there… in the middle of a world economic order cruelly designed to destroy or create jobs in the direction that best serves particular individual or group interests. Since you are not the son of a very rich man, owner of a company that you will run sooner or later, since your father does not have very influential friends in high circles, you have to apply for a job like any other person, either because you are unemployed or because you are looking for a better future. Because your search for a job starts from your curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé, let’s see some steps that will help you to do this better and… Good luck!

Step 1: Make a good impression with a clear, easy to read and well laid out CV

     Remember that before meeting you, an employer will meet your CV or résumé first. A bad impression created by the appearance of your CV may be enough to decide to scan through it quickly or … skip it because we are talking about a person who has more than 100 CVs on his or her desk and the unpleasant task to deal with them. So, your CV should be carefully designed to have a good aesthetic appearance. You can find several templates on the Internet that will help you to make your CV look great, but if you cannot do it yourself, get some help or pay some money to get something good (it is something that you will only pay once, but can keep forever, so it is a good deal, isn’t it?). If your CV looks horrible, it will probably end up inside a waste-paper basket. I recommend you to pay attention to the following points:

  • Font size: Avoid too big font sizes (you only have one or two pages) and very small font sizes too (they cause fatigue). Personally, I prefer between a 10 and 12 point size.
  • Extension of your document: The main difference between a resume and curriculum vitae is what is included. A resume is usually shorter and it contains your level of education, experience, skills, etc. while a CV includes other aspects like publications, research experience, affiliations, etc. If you apply for a position as a teacher at a university, for example, you should send a CV. It also depends on where you are. It seems that in Europe, employers expect to receive CVs in situations where their American counterparts would accept a resume. However, no matter what you write, a CV or resume, keep it between one and two pages.
  • Format: There is no a “best and specific way” to structure a CV or résumé, but to be concise is absolutely necessary (the employer will thank you. Do not forget the 100 CVs on the desk!). In order to be concise, you will have to reduce the number of words and show relevant and specific ideas instead. And how do you do that? With the use of short paragraphs, bullets and boxes. It is advisable to highlight headings and relevant information like job titles and other things related to work experience and education in bold type too.

Step 2: Write all your information in a proper and logical order

     For an employer, your skills, references, etc. are irrelevant if he does not even know who you are or what you can do. So, the golden rule here is first things first.

  • Personal details: Your name, address, telephone number and e-mail. In USA and UK, for example, curricula vitae do not usually include a photograph since it could lead to rejection on grounds of ethnicity, sex or age (in plain English, it could lead to discrimination). If you are applying for a position in other countries, please get information about it because in Latin America, Japan and countries in Europe it is a common practice to include it. As for your e-mail, it is preferable to use your own name (Johnsmith@xxxx.com) to a hidden one (keeprolling@xxxx.com) because it shows that you are a person who has a lot of personality and strength of character.
  • Education, professional training, certification: Write here all information on Bachelor, Master, Ph.D., postdoctoral or other relevant studies, in reverse chronological order, i.e., most recent first. It also includes degree awarded or anticipated, name of institution, location, date, etc. Skills (languages, computing, etc.) can be part of this section.
  • Work experience: Describe your professional and work experience connected with the job that you are seeking. With the use of tables or bullets, you can create different sections to highlight details. Organize the jobs you have had in reverse chronological order within each section, i.e., most recent first. Do not forget to include beginning and terminating dates, job title, name of company and location. Use action verbs (supervised, promoted, etc.) to describe your skills, jobs, and accomplishments in your CV since they express achievements or something a person does in a concise and persuasive manner.
  • Publication (usually for CVs): You should include the title, publisher, place of publication, volume, ISBN, date of publication, number of pages, etc.
  • Conferences and presentations (usually for CVs): Make a list of conference seminars, presentations and professional workshops.
  • Professional affiliations: List organizations you belong to and include current memberships, with dates.
  • Volunteer experience: You can list here the organizations for which you volunteered or add brief detail about your contributions.
  • Hobbies and interests: Insofar as you can do, show hobbies and interests with relevance to academic life and the job you are seeking.
  • References: This point is not strictly necessary. If you are running short of space, just write: “References are available on request.” In case you decide to write about references, supply the name, title and contact information of your referees and be sure to ask their permission before submitting their names.

Step 3: Be accurate in its content and be careful with spelling mistakes

     Your CV is not a book of 120 pages; it has only 2, so keep the number of mistakes in zero or at least below the acceptable limit and this limit is … one! Many employers will probably move on to the next CV as soon as he or she detects a second mistake. In some cases, for example, if you are applying for a teaching position, even a single mistake is unacceptable. There is no margin for error there.

Step 4: Be honest

     A lie might help you to get a job, but it will not prevent you from being fired as soon as the employer finds out what’s going on there. Be honest because honesty is as highly appreciated as your curriculum or résumé.

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