Your CV is not a job description, it is a sales catalogue for your services. The optimum kind of CV is one that offers best set of services to the “recruiters” and offer solutions to the employer’s needs. Thus, job seekers need to keep industry “requirements” upfront when writing their CV.
In this period of competition, every day, the recruitment manager of a company faces a stack of job applications for each advertised post. Usually he will make 3 piles out of the heap of CVs: “yes”, “no”, and “maybe” – he’ll go to the latter pile if the former one fails to deliver an applicant suitable for the job. So your first mission is to make sure that your job application secures a position on the top of the “yes” interview-pile. You can get the necessary and astounding results by composing a well written CV. This is your introduction and chief communication with the employer. It is your CV which decides whether you are going to be deemed fit for the job or not.
Below are a few Do’s and Don’ts which should be rigorously kept under consideration while composing a professional CV.
Take two to three days to compose your CV. The biggest mistake most candidates make is to throw away a great chance by rushing to an average one. Regard your CV and application letter as an important project in progress and give it a polish every couple of months thus developing and improving it even further. You never know when you will be approached by a company and asked for it. Be unambiguous while stating the facts. Your CV should be comprehensive and up-to-date so as to render the employer incapable of coming up with any questions in it while analyzing it.
Begin your CV with an appealing career/executive summary. This will be a synopsis of the whole document for the employer’s ease. A summary becomes very important for professionals with multiple years of experience as it provides a bird-eye view of your background and skill-sets in one single area. Hence it is a section that must be paid extra attention to.
Put important skills at the beginning:
Elucidate your aptitude, competence and expertise as soon as possible in your CV. This will make it more impressive and the employer will not have to scan the whole document. It will also enrich him with the information he requires in order to make an interview appointment with you.
Using bullets makes a CV more concise and easier to scan. So instead of opting for paragraphs, summarize it in the form of bullets.
Always state your updated info at the start of your CV, i.e., your contact details including name, address, home and mobile telephone numbers and email address. It is imperative to be accessible at all times and under all conditions.
Adjust the CV according to the role:
If you have a job description, it is advisable to regulate your CV so that it readily highlights the aspects of your experience relevant to the job which you are applying for. CVs formulated with a specific role in mind are almost always more successful than those written for any generic position. This is particularly true of graduate applications.
Write comprehensible headings while entering your information in your CV. Clear headings help in scanning the required data at a glance.
Avoid erroneous Information:
Use accurate, concise and slang-free details while composing your professional CV. Including flawed information will only call for trouble when you are asked questions in order to verify what you have written in your CV.
Keep it simple:
Keep it simple linguistically and apparently when it comes to producing the ideal “curriculum vitae”. Remember that: “Less is More”.
For experienced professionals, job responsibilities should be detailed, explained in paragraphs if required instead of bullets, but easy to read. The more easy the language the more are the chances for an interview call.
Cite dates consistently while referring to qualifications and experience. Always start with the most recent credentials and work backwards.
CV should not be longer than 1 – 2 pages if you are just starting your career, 2 – 3 pages if you are seeking mid-management positions and 3 – 4 pages if you are seeking senior management positions.
This is made possible by proof-reading one’s CV over and over again. Typos usually turn off employers. Ask a friend to read over your CV and cover letter for the rectification of spelling and grammar mistakes or use a spell check. Spelling mistakes portray you as careless and unfocused. A CV full of mistakes will end up directly in the trash can. Use present tense for current jobs, keep it consistent and keep the same tense throughout your CV.
Include your availability (e.g., “immediately available” or “4 weeks’ notice”). This will help the employer to make up his mind about whether he can/cannot wait for you as a prospective candidate.
Correct font size:
Use a font size that is large enough to read, 11 or 12 is advisable. No fancy fonts, so keep it simple. Best is to use Times New Roman, Verdana or Arial font styles while composing a CV.
Make your desired job discernible:
Make it clear on a covering letter or email which job you are applying for. This will be to your benefit as the employer will be able to judge in a glance whether you are a suitable recruitment for the available job or not.
The most effective way to demonstrate technical skills is to provide a breakdown of the projects you’ve worked on. Remember that a project should comprise of the following pieces of information:
• Number of staff involved
• Technology you used
• Your role
• What you actually did
Sell yourself properly:
Remember that a CV is a very important selling tool. It is a way of persuading a consumer to buy a product, means a company to decide that your skills are worth paying for. You should think about the skills and experience that would appeal to an employer rather than including everything you have done. The “kitchen sink” approach can mean that your relevant skills are lost in your CV and are not sold enough.
Don’t paste your photograph:
Do not put your photograph on your CV. You want the employer to consider you on the basis of your skill-set in spite of your physical appearance, as a start.
Don’t use flowery fonts and writing style:
Refrain from using flowery language, fancy fonts and bright colored paper. Your CV should look mature and professional. Let the content do the talking. Do not use the word “I” repeatedly.
Don’t be humorous:
Create a professional email address, preferably with your own name e.g. “email@example.com”. Don’t use a humorous or inappropriate email address such as “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This may make a recruiter smile but won’t fetch you an interview.
Don’t use slangs & abbreviations:
It is advised not to use slangs or abbreviations in your CV. This creates a careless impact on the recruiter. Remember that your CV may be read by the HR manager who will be in need of seriously dedicated employees in his team. So, to make a good first impression through your CV, compose it very carefully.
Don’t quote irrelevant facts:
Don’t include irrelevant facts in your CV which have no connection with your career achievements. A potential employer will not be interested in how many children and grandchildren you have. He, on the other hand, is looking for a candidate who is trained, qualified and skilled in his area of expertise.
Do explain the time gaps in your CV when inquired. If you have spent 2 months looking for a new job, this is fine, inform the employer about it. If you have taken a career break or gone traveling – say so! Do not try to hide or fabricate it with lies. The HR people are professionals and are experts in getting the truth out of you.
Don’t be Repetitive:
Avoid repetition while writing your CV even if it is in the form of bullets, as it will use up the important space which can encompass your other achievements. Also when written once, repeating the same text will not give a good impression on your CV.
Don’t post/fax CV:
Post or fax CV’s only when absolutely necessary or if you are asked to do this. Email is now the accepted standard everywhere. So you better get attuned to the current standards of the professional world.
Do not exaggerate your experience:
Exaggerating your experience will cause you problems later on. Interviews are designed to weed out fibbers. So be practical and careful while writing a CV.
Include references when it is required by the company. You should simply state that: “References are available on request”.