tall and standing apart
Curriculum Vitaes are a cinch!
tells you to write a fresh Curriculum Vitae every time you apply
for a job and to update it every couple of months, perhaps assuming
that you will whip it out the moment a likely employer heaves
to on the horizon. I can think of nothing more tedious than composing
paeans about oneself month in and month out! However, over the
years I have managed to develop a method that is nearly painless.
One essential factor needs to be fixated in your mind. To make
a CV readable and interesting, it must stand out from a crowd
of CVs churned out by hundreds of other applicants. Im not
one for the Mission/ Vision/ Objective statements at the beginning.
Everybody does that and it sounds so incredibly fatuous that as
an avid CV scanner myself I find myself zipping through the rest
with a cursory glance. You need to be clear, concise, and businesslike
and put all that down in an attractive format that doesnt
jar the delicate sensibilities of the hiring authorities! To do
this and to ensure getting your CV to the top of the heap you
need to make certain you follow these pointers:
are two types of CVs. One is ideal for professional butterflies
who leap about from career to career with the occasional employment
break. Hirers are, at least in India, not overwhelmed with long
breaks in employment and the best way to downplay such breaks
is to create a functional CV. In such CVs, you describe your skills
in categories [Automobile engineer, institutional manager, finance
professional] and list the designations you have had lower down.
This provides a clear, unequivocal overview of what you are good
at and how former employers valued your services. For those of
you with steadier career paths, and whose employment gaps have
been insignificant or non-existent a chronological CV is the best
bet. In these, you list your jobs and the designation you held
in reverse chronological order. The same format can be followed
when you mention your educational/training background. This is
the way dyed-in-the-wool HR functionaries like to see things,
as they tend to be sticklers for form and tradition.
you construct the chronological CV do make certain you describe
your experience, education and skills telling the reader what
it is that you have achieved thus far. Please remember that the
functionaries that sift through the mounds of CVs that cross their
desk like to make very light work of them. Therefore if they cannot
immediately understand what you have to offer, theyll summarily
shred your CV. On the other hand if they are able to instantly
see what they are looking for, the CV will make its way up the
corporate ladder! You must understand that the average time for
reading a CV is about a minute and a half, so if you fit the job,
say so at the outset, or indicate it right upfront! While work
experience precedes education, in the event you are applying for
your first job, your education should be showcased first. Work
experience or education; list them down in reverse order of chronology.
Do not clutter a CV with details of your consuming interest in
bee-keeping and the like, save it for when they ask you at the
interview about your interests! I am often asked if CVs should
talk about the division or class of educational qualifications.
There is no hard and fast rule about this but if your scraped
through, waxing eloquent about your division may not further your
case too far, on the other hand, you might like to mention the
fact that you received a gold medal or a merit scholarship if
in fact you actually did. A top performer can usually be depended
upon to be consistent and is generally a safe bet with any employer.
If you havent been formally employed as yet, it may not
be a bad idea to list down any relevant experience you may have
in the functional area required. This could be in social service
you may have undertaken at sometime during school or college.
Computer skills are another nice thing you might like to include,
and if you have written articles for a paper or anchored a TV
show, do mention it. Language skills are a major draw, so you
may like to mention them too.
Look and Feel
have talked above of the way a good CV needs to be organised to
be noticed, but if it even looks tatty, the busy HR executive
will not give it the time of day! Bottom line? It has to be attractive
and spending time on formatting will pay dividends.
Format: Lotus SmartSuite and MSWord have CV templates. While
they are attractive and do present the material well, please remember
that hordes of other applicants will have thought of that too,
and in using them reduced your CV to the boring sameness that
will tire the person who looks at it. It is normal human tendency
to assume that a similar looking document has the same contents,
so if the screening executive sees a dozen similar formats, he
is likely to give yours a cursory glance instead of the attention
it deserves. This does not mean that you embellish your CV with
fancy fonts and colourful pictures and graphics! Simple and easy-to-read
should be the effect to strive for. Do not be too lavish with
bold print and avoid italics as far as possible. Bulleting is
a good way to make a list but keep it simple and do not fall into
the trap of having a varied series of them. Pointing fingers,
graphic arrows and check marks are best avoided.
Paper: This is important if you need hard copies of your CV.
Today, despite many Indian corporations going electronic, HR departments
still prefer having their records on paper. To be noticed, your
CV needs to be good-to-the-touch. This does not mean
that you etch your CV on beaten silver but the quality of paper
matters. Go in for thickish executive bond paper (75 gauge) or,
better still, royal executive bond (100 gauge) that looks great
and takes computer printing excellently. Avoid writing your CV
or typing it out on a manual typewriter. This is passé
and will not get a second glance. Please remember that your CV,
cover letter and the envelope should match, since these are often
clipped together when moved up the HR ladder. I have
always felt that paper that is not pure white attracts more attention,
so using ivory or cream textured paper will at least cause your
CV to stand out from the motley pile. Besides, print stands out
well on ivory and cream.
If your CV needs to go in soft copy form, remember that some e-mail
packages may not recognise your choice of font. They may even
insist on text font CVs that will play havoc with all your careful
planning. The font must necessarily be plain and easy to read.
The size should not be larger than 12 points except for the header,
which includes your name. These can be bold as well. The best
read fonts are Arial, Tahoma or any other uncomplicated sans serif
font that will come out much better if they are scanned or faxed
as they are likely to be when your CV moves up to the next level.
Avoid Times New Roman or Lucida Handwriting. Even sans serif fonts
like Comic Sans are not recommended.
Meat of the Matter
ensured that your CV looks good and is well organised we come
to the meat of the matter what to put in it so that it
holds the attention of the people who will read it.
Long and Short of it: If you are a fresher or a person with
about 5-10 years of experience, keep your CV down to a single
page. On the other hand, if you are a seasoned professional with
15+ years of service some of them in senior positions keep it
to two pages at the outside. For one thing it is quick to read
and if the salient points are clear, it is all that is required.
It is not a bad idea to have a detailed CV saved on your system
from which you can cut and paste as required to suit the job profile
for which you are applying.
Prose: Grammar sometimes needs to be modified to suit the
need. Start descriptive sentences with active verbs like Advised
the Managing Director or Supervised the conduct of
the session or Trained new entrants etc., This
gives an impression of activity and high energy. Even something
like Exclusively responsible will catch the eye. This
advice may not thrill grammarians, but hey, youve got to
get that tired HR executive to take notice, right?
it right: If you need to quote numbers or percentages or statistics,
do so. Nothing catches the attention like a series of figures.
There seems to be a magic associated with numbers that fascinates
often even if the numbers are not substantiated in the text. For
some reason, people generally feel that numbers cannot lie so
by association the text that accompanies the numbers must be worth
you have managed to incorporate all the suggestions above, your
CV must be really something that will aid your immediate employment!
You can be reasonably certain that it will be read and with interest
that may prompt them to call you for an interview. Once there,
you will have the task of living upto the standard of your CV,
so stick to the truth and memorise everything so that you arent
caught off guard when they ask you about an entry in the CV. Never
forget to carry an extra hard copy of the CV when you go for the