As an HR Consultant, I receive a lot of applications for various positions we fill for our clients. I have been doing this for almost ten years; and it still saddens my heart that many applicants don’t put in much effort when preparing their CVs.
Many still don’t take their CVs seriously, and it is costing them. Many still make unpardonable mistakes on their CVs ─ spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc. Please understand this. Your CV is your self-marketing tool – you are the product. It is the first impression you give the recruiter. So you need to put in effort and time to make it right. And your CV is a formal document, and not a letter to your friend in which you can use Pidgin English, jargons and short hands like ‘u’ for ‘you.’
And just like any product or service, you have the features and the benefits; and what you sell most are the benefits. As an individual, your features are the skills and abilities you possess; and your benefits are your achievements. So, on your CV, what you need to highlight are your skills and abilities, and most importantly, your achievements. Only few applicants know and do this; the majority of applicants merely list the duties they perform or have performed. And this just talks about their job description and not what they achieved whilst performing those duties. As HR professionals or recruiters, we are not so much interested in your duties. We are much more interested in what you have achieved. And please, avoid preparing one generic CV and sending it to every organisation that advertises a job vacancy. Ensure that your CV is based on the job requirements of each job you apply for.
I have put together some essential things you need to take into consideration when preparing your CV. And I hope this helps you in preparing a professional CV that will make you marketable.
Some Costly Mistakes You Must Avoid
- Spelling, grammar or typographical errors
- Having more than one or two-page CV
- Sending generic CVs – i.e. preparing one CV and using it to apply for every job.
- Highlighting duties instead of achievements
- Leaving out information (Like phone number)
- Using clichés (Like team player, leader, goal-getter without providing evidence)
- Being ambiguous (Using unclear statements)
- Poor design (that makes reading your CV difficult)
- Poor Content
- Unprofessional representation (Like using ‘u’ for ‘you’ etc; and using informal words and jargons)
The ABC of a CV
A…always create a good first impression and tell the truth
B…be fully aware to format your CV correctly (Font style – Ariel or Times New Roman, size (10 – 12), justify format)
C…choose carefully the grammar and use of words and the correct punctuation (Avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical errors)
The Essentials of a CV
- Take time to prepare your CV
- Tailor your CV to specific jobs (Avoid generic CVs)
- Keep it short, clear and concise (1-2 pages maximum)
- Write in 3rd person
- Recruiters spend 2/3 minutes of reading time so bring important things first
- Tailor your CV to meet the requirement of each job you apply for
The Structure and Content of a CV
- Title – It is not necessary to title your CV ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘Resume.’ We already know what it is. Just title it with your name
- Personal details – Name, phone number, email address
- Personal profile – Unique Selling Preposition (USP), not just Career Objective (Create that good 1st impression – the selling process begins from here)
- Work Experience – Summary of roles and key achievements (focus on relevant achievements)
- Skills and Abilities (Make sure you have proof of these skills and abilities, and make it relevant to the job requirements)
- Educational Qualifications / Personal Development
- Hobbies and Interests (Be careful – this could be a test of your character during interviews; be sure to have proof of these)
- Referees – provide at least three (3) referees. (two career or job references and one academic reference)
Ten Essentials for Producing Professional CVs – Recap
- A Personal Profile Statement – which immediately captures the eye and imagination of the reader; and starts that all important selling process.
- An introduction of each role.
- Clear and concise achievements to display the benefits the recruiting organisation stands to gain.
- Key skills and abilities brought together to represent who you are and what you can do. Include technical skills and abilities as required if you possess them.
- Educational qualification to be included with personal development and training.
- Hobbies and interests to be shown to display a life outside of the work environment.
- Use good quality paper if you are sending a printed version of your CV.
- Ensure that the presentation of your CV is consistent and easy on the eye with the correct use of font sizes and styles.
- Double check spelling and grammar, by having your CV checked by another person; or better still, have a professional take a look. (Don’t rely solely on the computer spelling check)
- Take your time in producing your CV – it’s not a race against time and remember that it captures your course of life.
Remember, your CV is the single most important aspect in applying for jobs and securing interviews. So, spend time and other resources to make it right. Please feel free to send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you need help in preparing a professional and a marketable CV.
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