This article is contributed by Shailja Dutt, Founder of Stellar Search and weryz.
A lot has changed in the corporate world over the last few years- how we recruit, how we retain and the definition of work itself. But what has remained constant in the upheaval is the one big question- how to write great CV’s? Be it any industry, any position, any seniority, this question pops up everywhere. Here’s our take on the art and science of writing a great CV.
Tips for Building Strong CV
Focus on your Strengths
This is not the place to be modest or understate your own achievements.
Ask yourself- What differentiates you? What makes you stand out? And include your answers in your CV. While it’s a good idea to customise your CV according to the job requirements, you shouldn’t be quick to apply the shredder on everything else. Your strengths play a major part in any role you take, so make sure you highlight them.
Keep it Crisp and To The Point
Keep it crisp and to the point – remember no one has time to scan long profiles.
Brevity is key. Applying to jobs requires going the extra mile but if there’s one place you should be cautious of extending yourself, it’s your CV. The standard length for a CV one/two pages (on separate sheets) so it should include only your key achievements. Just saying more doesn’t make your achievements larger or more significant, it just shows your lack of being able to communicate impactfully and effectively. The average recruiter initially spends 7.4 seconds scanning a resume so keep it short and say it in a way that you make the most of these 7.4 seconds.
Don’t depend on Titles to do their work
All corporate work seems to come down to titles- we dream about going from associate to senior associate to manager, and that is the holy career trajectory. However, that’s no longer true.
Be it in any role, it’s the impact of your work that matters. The 3-4 words of your title might get the attention of the recruiter but the 3-4 lines below it should back it up. Instead of focusing too much on your industry or title, focus on what you have done and the transferable skills you bring. Be specific and present bullet points to help the reader catch important details. Results not responsibilities - look back at your achievements in previous positions. Quantify. Instead of describing a long list of tasks, focus on the results and deliverables and wherever possible provide verifiable and objective evidence of your success. You are always as good as your last project.
Keep it Simple
CV is not the place to showcase your great writing skill or verbosity or use jargons. Use short, coherent sentences so that the reader can understand and retain information. When you use jargon or convoluted phrasings, you are just adding to the work of the reader. If they have to read it again to understand, consult a dictionary to look up a tough word or think about the full form of an acronym, then you have just made it inconvenient for them to read your CV and if there’s anything employers don’t like apart from unoriginal CVs, it is inconvenient CVs. As Einstein has said If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Align it with your LinkedIn Profile
And last but not the least align it with your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is your Digital resume. Align your CV with what you say on LinkedIn- your job roles, headers and brief description. Use LinkedIn to your advantage, instead of merely copying your CV content, use your LinkedIn space to complement your story and talk to your audience, something you won’t get to do in a formal CV. Bring out your strengths and put them out there.
Use the Right Keywords
Some additional points that may help you stand out - include the right keywords.
It is possible that your prospective employer is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) or similar software to screen out applications, or simply going through the page to spot the keywords themselves. Through relevant keywords, be strategic about how you present the information and show that you have experience in specific elements of the job through your past experiences.
Make it Presentable
Presentation matters - While content is king, how you choose to present it matters. In a bid to be original, don’t resort to fancy fonts or visual elements. Just answer this simple question- How can I get my message across in the cleanest way? Balance white space to avoid making your CV too cluttered or too empty. Choose your fonts and font sizes carefully and wherever possible stick to the formal standards. Make it reader friendly.
And that is the magic formula to building a great CV!