Written by – Neha Kaul
Think of your curriculum vitae (CV) or resume as your shop window - it must effectively display your experience, skills and qualities at first glance. Many candidates fail to display their skills and experience properly. The resume is the first step to impress your future employers. The following tips will help you produce a CV:
Keep it short and clear
Before you start, choose the right CV format. The most important information, such as your key skills and recent experience needs to be near the top, where it can be seen immediately.
A lot of recruiters do skill-based searches on online job portals and if your CV has the relevant skills mentioned, it will show a higher match to the recruiter, increasing your chances of being considered.
Sections you usually need to include are your profile, achievements, experience, special skills (languages / computers), education, training, and (if you wish) interests. Your CV should normally not be more than two pages in length (unless you have a very long career span or have a lot of projects).
Make it look good
Clear and attractive presentation is also important if your CV is to stand out. Recruiters go through hundreds of resume in a day and since they are experts at evaluating it at a glance, that's about all the time a CV usually gets-2-3 seconds in which they will scan and decide whether or not to read it further.
A cluttered CV can be really off-putting and signals that you are not able to present your ideas in an easy-to-understand manner.
This may result in your not even getting considered as a result. So, ensure that it’s uncluttered, with key points easy to spot.
Use bullet points and keep the sentences relatively short. Plenty of ‘white space’ around the borders and between each section keeps the document easier on the eye.
Most recent first
Put your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent first. Avoid leaving any gaps, so if you’ve had time out for some reason, do mention this.
Do not go into detail about positions or internships you held over 10 years ago. Include details of holiday or temporary work only if it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.
List your job duties beneath each position. List your achievements, responsibilities and results. Talk about results - what difference did your presence make? Use numbers for achievements wherever possible, e.g. "Boosted sales by 20 per cent in the first year".
And always write in a slightly formal manner and never use the word "I" – e.g. "Supervised the team" rather than "I supervised the team". Use the past tense for previous jobs and the present tense for your current job.
Often non-sales functions find it difficult to list figures to show impact of their work as they may not have revenue targets. However, you can still use numbers if you think creatively. Did you finish a project that usually takes 6 months in 4 months? That's a time saving of two months for the company.
Other examples would be increasing efficiency of a process by a certain percentage, say 30 per cent or finishing a task X number of times faster. You can also benchmark against competition, for example, we implemented the industry's first AI-based Cost management process.
Not too many lists
Include specific skills, such as administrative, functional or computing skills in a separate section in your CV. Don’t relist them for every job you’ve used them in. This is particularly so for IT work – lists of tools and packages make dull reading and won’t make you stand out from other people with the same abilities.
Breathe some life into it
Remember the employer wants a sense of the kind of person you are, as well as what you can do. Are you punctual, conscientious, or motivated? Do you rise to a challenge? With each point you write, ask yourself "What does this say about me?"
Always check for errors. Run a spelling and grammar check and ask someone else to read it for you. Else read it aloud. The employer is not going to believe you’re a good communicator if your CV is full of mistakes.
You don’t have to use the same CV every time. You can have two or three versions, each for a different kind of job. Or you can tailor your CV to suit the job you’re applying for. A CV cannot be a case of one size fits all.
A lot of companies use automated processes to shortlist the first round of CVs, which makes it important that you read the job description and pick out the keywords mentioned in it. Try to include these keywords in your CV when describing your work so you are speaking the language of the recruiter but only when it is actually applicable.
Smart recruiters will see through any attempts to blatantly copy-paste all skills mentioned in the job description. Also be sure to send a covering letter. Unless the advert tells you not to, always send a covering letter which is specifically tailored to the job at hand. This should highlight two or three areas of experience from your CV that are most relevant to the advert.
Although you obviously want to present yourself well, but do not go too far and embellish the truth. It can easily backfire on you. For instance, claiming that you managed a project which clearly would have required an entire team is not a good idea as most hiring managers would be aware that such projects require a team effort and may see you as boasting and discount your genuine achievements too.
A small yet often overlooked detail is how you name the file and what format you save it in. Often candidates will not change the file name and end up sending CVs labelled just as CV or Biodata or My CV version 4. Needless to say, this makes a poor first impression on the recruiter.
But what is even worse is if you send the CV in an outdated format or in a format that is not very common which a recruiter may not have installed on his computer.
Avoid PDFs, use the popular version of MS-Word, not the latest one as everyone's laptop may not be updated with it. If an HR person cannot open your CV, he can't really evaluate it. Remember, details matter.