Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume summarizes your background in academics and work and provides useful information about your skill sets, achievements and a few other points.
With such information, the universities would be able to determine whether you are a consistent performer academically and in work place, what sort of hobbies you have and what skills would you bring to the university. Universities abroad look for 'diversity' amongst its students. Especially when international students join their programs, universities would like knowing more general information before they determine admission, that just the academics. They would like their students to be well-rounded and multi-faceted, in order to provide a vibrant atmosphere within their campuses. For this reason, a good resume positively helps with the admission process.
Contents of a Good Resume
A resume should be short, precise and informative. Ideally, no resume should be more than one page in length. Depending upon your profile, the maximum length could be up to 2 pages. The information to be provided must be logically presented in such a way that all the relevant information to judge you must be available for the evaluators.
Name and address with contact/communication details must be provided at the top of the resume, with proper formatting.
Determining your 'Objectives' and putting across in your resume will create a good impression about your focus and direction in life.
'Skill set' will provide a summary of skills that you have, personally and professionally. This makes it easy for the reader for a quick view about you.
If you are working, provide your 'Work Experience' details, starting with the present job, the duration and your job responsibilities and then moving down to previous jobs held by you.
Include any 'Achievement s' under each job, without fail.
Similarly, give details of 'Qualifications' - the degree with specialization, institution, grade/rank and 'Distinctions' if any.
Give your test scores (TOEFL, GRE/GMAT etc) information after your Qualifications.
Include under 'Other Information', any additional qualifications or points that you would like to mention. For example, computer-related qualifications, projects undertaken by you etc.
Under 'Other details', provide your Date of Birth and Passport number.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not important that you have to append your signature to your resume. Since you would be submitting the same along with a set of other documents, it is not essential to do so.
However, do not forget to sign your Statement of Purpose/College Application essays, if doing them on paper.