YOUR curriculum vitae or CV creates the first impression that recruiters and prospective employers have of you. Before even meeting with you, your CV already starts selling you, in a positive or negative way.
Your CV is like a mini-biography of you. You will have a compelling story to tell if you have prepared a great CV. Readers will quickly pick up salient points about your skills and work experience in a logical and concise manner. Not only will a great CV generate strong interest in you, it also distinguishes you from others competing with you for the same job.
Conversely, CVs that are unstructured, written poorly or contain missing information typically do not get past the first round of selection. Employers will question your professional ability and your chance of getting a job interview will diminish considerably.
So, how do you prepare a good CV? Here are four key points to help you:
1. Write concisely
A well-written CV is one that is concise and contains all the essential information about you in a simple and readable format.
Job seekers typically err on the two extremes of writing CVs — they are either too lengthy or so brief they hardly say anything about the applicants or the value they can bring to prospective employers.
Keep your CV between four to five pages long. Anything beyond that risks losing the attention or interest of the reader.
2. Talk about yourself
The first section, which draws the reader’s attention, is your personal information. This includes your full name, contact information (telephone numbers, e-mail and home address), education, professional qualifications, technology skills and language skills.
This section should also include a statement or short paragraph about yourself, and a summary of your key strengths and skills, career achievements and aspirations.
Employers typically use this to determine your suitability for the job. It is one of the criteria used to decide whether or not to grant you an interview.
3. Share your work experience
The next section sells you as a potential candidate for a role. Get all your facts right and list your work experience in reverse chronological order.
This means putting your most current work experience first. Employers typically look at your current job and its relevance to the role they are hiring for.
Summarise the scope of your responsibilities neatly and use bulleted points where necessary (if there are more than two areas you wish to cover) to enable the reader to gain an accurate understanding of your role.
Be specific when writing about your job achievements. For example, if you were directly responsible for managing the profit and loss of a department, list down in numerical terms how much you did to increase revenues or save costs.
Also list qualitative achievements, such as job promotions, awards recognising your efforts, or improvements and positive changes you have made during your tenure.
4. Manage flaws in your CV
As you accumulate work experience over the years, how desirable your profile is to a prospective employer depends increasingly on the jobs you have done and the companies you have worked for.
Employers seek to hire candidates with a track record of success in a similar role, as there is greater certainty that they will do well in the role.
Firms are wary of job hoppers as they doubt their staying power after investing in training and inducting them into their jobs.
Conversely, if you stay too long in one job or company, it may raise questions about your ability to adapt to a different environment or job scope.
If this is the case with you, think over carefully the various roles you have filled and skills you have learned over your long tenure.
How many times have you been promoted within your role? Have you been exposed to different functions across the firm? How much of your experience would be directly relevant to the new employer?
Another potential flaw in your CV is the appearance of gaps. This is common especially in the current economic environment in which a significant number of people are retrenched or laid off from their work due to corporate restructuring.
As much as possible, fill those gaps in your CV with clear descriptions of what you achieved.
Be truthful about what you have or have not done and never be tempted to insert false information in your CV. The truth can easily be verified through reference checking and deception can cost you the job, or worse, tarnish your reputation in the job market.