Preparing a Winning CV Step by Step
Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an outline of your educational and professional history, usually prepared for job applications. It is also named as résumé. CV is considered as the most flexible and convenient way to make applications. It conveys your personal details in such a way that presents you as best possible light. It is also a marketing document in which you are marketing something: yourself!
Whatever you possess, there is no alternative but to “sell” your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to employers. It can be used to make multiple applications to employers in a specific career area. For this reason, many large graduate recruiters will not accept CVs and instead use their own application form. However, it is widely believed that it is individual’s own document and can be structured as per wish within the basic framework below.
Differences between a resume, CV and bio data:
• Summarizes your professional profile
• Main focuses on your skills, achievements and professional roles
• Ideal length is 1 – 3 pages
• Easy on humans and ATS (Applicant Tracking System)
• Best weapon to target industries across the globe
• Descriptive document of your professional summary
• Focuses on academia, research publications, scientific papers, achievements to name a few
• Ideal Length: No restrictions
• You would have already inferred that it is suitable for research scholars, academicians and fresher (some job opportunities ask specifically for a CV)
• Describes your personal information including contact details, father name, mother name, location, current position, salary and so on and so forth
• Focuses on nothing but personal information. Not a good idea to send to a recruiter
• Ideal length: Not more than one page
• Best place to use a Bio Data: Matrimony and in some rare cases: Government Jobs
While writing a winning CV, following steps should be followed:
- Your CV should be carefully and clearly laid out – not too cramped but not with large empty spaces either. Use bold and italic typefaces for headings and important information
- Never back a CV – Each page should be on a separate sheet of paper. It’s a good idea to put your own name in the footer area so that it appears on each sheet.
- Be concise – It is like an appetizer and you should not give the reader indigestion. Don’t feel that you have to list every exam you have ever taken, or every activity you have ever been involved in – consider which are the most relevant and/or impressive. The longer and more dense your CV is, the harder it is for an employer to comprehend your achievements.
- Be positive – Put yourself over confidently and highlight your strong points. For example, when listing your A-levels, put your highest grade first.
- Be honest – Although a CV does allow you to omit details which you would prefer the employer not to know about, you should never give inaccurate or misleading information. CVs are not legal documents and you can’t be held liable for anything within, but if a recruiter picks up a suggestion of falsehoods you will be rapidly rejected. An application form which you have signed to confirm that the contents are true is however a legal document and forms part of your contract of employment if you are recruited.
The sweet spot of a winning CV is the area selectors tend to pay most attention to: this is typically around the upper middle of the first page, so make sure that this area contains essential information.
If you are posting your CV, don’t fold it – put it in a full-size A4 envelope so that it doesn’t arrive creased.
There are several crucial things you need to articulate in CV while submitting to the recruiter
• Previous relevant work experience (For fresher, more focus could be on thesis/ internee ship and volunteer/non profit exposures)
• Clear career objectives/goal
• Skills and competencies
• Easy to read
• Accomplishments and success stories
• Spelling & grammar
• Educational background
• Engagement with professional association
• Intangibles: individuality/desire to succeed
• Contact information
• Personal experiences
• Computer skills
What makes a winning CV?
There is no single “correct” way to write and present a CV but the following general rules apply:
- be targeted on the specific job or career area for which you are applying and brings out the relevant skills you have to offer
- carefully and clearly laid out: logically ordered, easy to read and not cramped
- be informative but concise
- be accurate in content, spelling and grammar. If you mention attention to detail as a skill, make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect!
What mistakes do candidates make on their CV?
One survey of employers found the following mistakes were most common among candidates:
Spelling and grammar
Not tailored to the job
Length not right & poor work history
Poor format and no use of bullets
Contact & email problems
Objective/profile was too vague
Use of old photo
In fact, it is important that all applicants put modesty aside and show self-confidence in their CVs. Some employers seek for video CVs, where applicants describe their skills and experience on a short video filmed on their Smartphone, or requesting jobseekers complete application forms online.
Mahabub Sadik – HR manager at icddr,b
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