A resume or curriculum vitae is your first shot at a job opportunity. It is important that you don’t mess it up. This sheet of paper(s) is supposed to give your prospective employers the reasons why they should even bother calling you for an interview. You may be qualified for it but you practically nullify your chances of landing the job if you can’t pass this test.
The impression your CV should not give
Noticed how all career gurus urge every job seeking John to sell himself as ‘motivated,’ ‘dynamic,’ and ‘driven.’ More often than not, job seekers who follow this mantra end up looking ‘desperate,’ ‘ridiculous,’ and ‘clueless’. And all because certain basics are not in place.
Most employers spend an average of 15 to 30 seconds on a CV within which time they decide whether to continue reading. You have, therefore, a very short time and a very serious job at hand. So take some time to draw up your CV. Here’s how.
Objective: Your objective statement is the first thing employers look at to see if they match with the company’s profile. You are supposed to list your key skills and aims as a professional. Keep it focused and simple. Do not use big words to sound knowledgeable. For instance, if you are applying for the position of an English editor, there is absolutely no need to fly off the handle with expressions like ‘I want to hitch my wagon to a start in mass media,’ or ‘my untamed passion for literature makes me an ideal candidate.’ For some reason this just invokes a scary picture of a cowboy litterateur galloping into the office. You will be trashed promptly.
Accomplishments: Most people confuse responsibilities with accomplishments. Responsibilities are tasks that were assigned to you by a company, and accomplishments are what you actually got done. Instead of writing about the previous company and its site development needs, write ‘I developed, designed, and uploaded the site.’ And no, first prize holder of the Ramalingam essay competition in standard XII is not one of your achievements. Your achievements should also actually list the very specific character of the work. Put in the statistics, dates, and figures.
Work History: If you are listing your professional experience of more than ten years make sure they are relevant to the job you are applying to. If you are a fresher, avoid wasting space by including ‘flyer distributor’ as work experience.
Other Activities: Now this is the part of the CV that suddenly makes you want to relax. You want to list all your talents, be it table tennis, guitar strumming, or bathroom singing. However, other activities could mean serious business. You are not supposed to present your ‘chilled out’ persona by promising that you ‘like living life to the brim on weekends.’ And neither can you list ‘holds a valid driving license’ as an activity under ‘other.’ Make sure, instead, that your other interests make you seem as a balanced individual who can be trusted and depended upon.
Jargon: In an effort to impress do not use some highly codified sector-specific language and in-house jargons.
Verbosity: Don’t get carried away by the whole ‘sell yourself’ deal. Verbosity is a complete turn off when it comes to practically anything. Hence, peppering a long paragraph with cheesy lines like ‘burning passion’ and ‘I want to reach the crescendo of creativity’ and other forms of hyperbole will get you recruited in comic opera instead. Your CV is a preview to your working style and competence, and not an autobiography. Make that distinction and you’ll fly.
Grammar, punctuation and spellings: ‘I am higly qualified for this secratarial job because, I am motivated and disciplined worker’ will get you no higher than a part time job at McDonald’s. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar and incorrect punctuation indicate poor language skills and a lack of attention to details. Moreover, avoid writing in the first person. ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ come across as informal and unprofessional.
When there are many applications for a job opening, mistakes like these help in eliminating and narrowing down choices. Get someone to go through your CV before you shoot it off. Make sure he or she has a good grasp over the language and is not partial to you.
In short, there are little things that can save your CV from being dismissed. Hard facts, strong action verbs, statistics, formal language, correct grammar, and an easy layout convey seriousness. It also quickly lets your employers know if you are fit for the job or not. Furthermore, if your CV is unsuitable yet impressive, the employer might even contact you later for something that is more up your street.
Qualifications and experience apart, there are a dozen other things that can easily land your CV in the trash bin in not more than 15 seconds if you are not careful