A WELL-WRITTEN and presented curriculum vitae is vital when it comes to a job search, yet many people find it a chore or simply become overwhelmed.
But when done effectively, one's CV will help a person make a positive impression on recruiters or hiring managers.
It is a succinct way to market yourself to them and tell them that you can do the job better than your competitors.
There are some basic dos and don'ts to watch out for.
But there are other more contentious aspects of CV writing, with differing views out there.
One thorny question is whether to attach a photo to the CV. One recruiter, Mr Adrian Tan, managing director of RecruitPlus Consulting, is all for it.
'We go through up to 100 CVs a day. We are going to remember the one with photos much more than the 80 per cent that don't have them.'
But other experts such as author and CV writing expert Peter Fleming said it is a big no-no, unless you are applying for a job where looks are essential.
Otherwise, a summary judgment based on your looks by someone scanning your CV may deprive you of the chance to prove yourself on your merits.
'I suspect if candidates are doing so, it is based on, firstly, bad advice from so-called advisers at polytechnics and universities plus, secondly, what I call the FBT (Facebook Twitter) culture of over-sharing information about oneself including often photoshopped faces,' said Mr Fleming.
The other thing that you should always omit from your CV, he said, is your preferred salary.
'This leaves you 'wiggle room' later. Plus, it truly depends on the job detail, doesn't it?' he said.
'If you have to work or travel or supervise or do whatever more than you had expected, wouldn't you want more compensation for that?
'And the more senior the position, the more complex the package. It's far too complex to explain in a CV.'
He said the top three mistakes that people make with their CV are:
'State what the problem was, what you did to solve it and quantify the positive impact your solution had on the organisation,' said Mr Fleming.
He gave an example. 'Sales were running way below budget in the third quarter. I introduced a system for contact management and we ended the year beating the sales budget by 20 per cent.'
Mr Kowshik Sriman, managing director of software firm SAP Singapore, also believes less is more when it comes to personal information.
He will tell you that there is no need to attach a photo or mention personal matters such as marital status, your identity card number, home address and so on.
'These are not relevant to my hiring decision,' he said.
'A good CV is to the point and concise. I like a confident candidate who gives a few salient points and dishes out more information during the face-to-face interview as appropriate.'
His pet peeve: 'I hate CVs that are crowded with too much information. It gives me the impression that the candidate is confused and hopes that some points will impress me.'
In a CV, Mr Sriman is looking for a person's future potential, rather than just his past achievements.
'I'd rather hire someone who keeps learning and wants to improve rather than someone who stays in his comfort zone.'
He added: 'I always develop and groom leaders in my team, so a person's potential is more important than past achievements. Many hiring managers make the mistake of assuming that past success equals future potential.'
Still, there is no denying the impact of stating your achievements.
Said Mr Tan: 'Most applicants rehash their responsibilities (which is the process) and neglect to put in the resulting achievements.
'It is the latter that recruiters and hiring managers will pay greater attention to. If my client is hiring a sales person and the applicant is with a competitor and was the top sales person, that is going to put a sparkle in my eyes.'
Lastly, a CV should not be too long.
A one-page CV is enough for a new graduate while two to three pages is fine for more experienced applicants.
A CV should have no more than three pages unless you are applying for a post in academia, said Mr Fleming.
Keep the CV short and sweet, sharp and effective.
Given the competition out there, it pays to put in a little more effort into your CV.