Monday, June 29, 2009

8 things to make an impressive CV

In the article below 12 things your CV should not have we discussed the common errors applicants make when drafting their CVs or resumes. Following the article we received a large number of queries from readers, asking what information should they include in their CV, to make it impressive.

This article is an attempt to help the readers design an impressive and user-friendly CV. If you ensure that you include this information in your CV, the chances of it meeting the interviewer's expectations are increased.

~ Begin with name and contact details
Make this information available at the beginning of your CV. This should include your postal address, phone number (preferably mobile number) and e-mail address (only one). If a company wants to call you for an interview or needs to communicate with you for any further information, they will look out for this information. If it is buried somewhere inside the CV it will not only put them off but also reduce their chances of contacting you.

~ Write an appealing career summary
This is your chance to bring forward relevant strengths and skills to the recruiter. Everything in your CV should support your Career Summary. If there's anything that doesn't support your Career Summary, you should reconsider listing it.

You should write your Career Summary around your skills, attitude, knowledge and experience. There are two schools of thought on writing the career statement.

Some people think that it should be a short 30-40 word paragraph while others give it liberty to be covered in 4-5 bulleted points. Whatever you decide on, ensure that everything relevant that you want to sell to the prospective employer is covered here. At the same time, it should not become nauseating.

~ Focus on your work experience, responsibilities and achievements
If you are an experienced candidate, your work experience is your main asset. Include the details of the relevant jobs you have done in the past. You should present your work experience in a chronologically descending order ie the last company first.

This should include the name of the company, your designation and tenure followed by your job responsibilities and achievements. It is always better to present this information in bulleted format rather than a clumsy paragraph. Mention some figures when you talk about your achievements.

For example:
Worked as Business Development Manager for XYZ Company from June 2000 to January 2004.

Job responsibilities:

* Setting up 7 franchisees across 4 countries
* Maximising the business from existing customers to the tune of $ 200,000

~ Your next asset is your educational qualification
Educational qualifications play an important role in the recruitment of freshers. If you are a fresh candidate, focus your CV on your qualifications and achievements during your student life.

~ Write about your out-of-work achievements, interests and hobbies
These reflect your personality and skills. Present the relevant achievements in the order of priority ie the most important achievement first. Similarly, present your interests as well. Write about the achievements that display a facet of your personality. For example, if you have been the president of your college, do mention it. It shows your leadership skills.

~ Write short sentences with more impactful words
Lengthy CVs put the recruiter off. Keep the sentences short and use words that demonstrate your hold of the situation like managed, arranged, supervised etc.

~ Formal font faces
A font like Verdana-10 should be good for the content while the Name at the top can be written in Verdana-12, with a bold font face.

~ Use the same tense through out the CV.
Changing the tense in every second line leaves the reader confused and annoyed.

Now, put together both the articles (i.e) the below 12 things your CV should not have and 8 things to make an impressive CV. Draft and re-draft your CV keeping the points mentioned, till you are satisfied that you have presented the facts in the most impressive and convincing way.

12 things your CV should NOT have

Your CV is your marketing brochure through which you try to sell a commodity, ie your skills to the potential buyer ie the prospective employer. The sole purpose of your CV is to fetch you an interview call. Nothing more, nothing less.

However, creating a CV isn't as simple as just using flowery language and pretty fonts. There are certain things that put recruiters off and if you want to make a good impression, make sure you do not commit these mistakes in what is arguably the most valuable document of your job hunt.

While the rules listed are well-founded, they are not carved in stone. At times you will need to break the rules. If you want to add these things knowingly and purposefully to your CV we advise you to do that.

The points mentioned here are not listed in the order of priority; instead they are listed in the sequence in which they usually appear on a CV.

~ Colorful or glossy paper and flashy fonts
Your CV is a formal, official document. Keep it simple.

~ Resume or CV at the top
Many people tend to add headings to their CV. The usual are CV, Curriculum Vitae and Resume. Do not do this.

~ Photographs until asked
Do not add your photo to the CV until you have been asked for it. Photographs are required only for certain types of positions like models, actors etc.

~ Usage of 'I', 'My', 'He', 'She'
Do not use these in your CV. Many candidates write, 'I worked as Team Leader for XYZ Company' or 'He was awarded Best Employee for the year 2007'. Instead use bullet points to list out your qualifications/ experience like: Team leader for XYZ Company from 2006-2007.

~ Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Proofread your CV until you are confident that it doesn't have any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. These are big put-offs for the recruiters. Moreover, sometimes these mistakes might land you in an embarrassing situation.

A candidate who submitted his CV without proofreading it committed the mistake of wrongly spelling 'ask' as 'ass'. Now you can imagine the type of embarrassment he must have faced during the interview, when the interviewer pointed it out. These mistakes tend to convey a lazy and careless attitude to the interviewer.

~ Lies about your candidature
Do not lie about your past jobs or qualifications or anything which might have an impact on the job. You may be able to secure a job with these lies today but tomorrow you may lose it as well.

~ Abbreviations or jargon that is difficult to understand
People screening your resume usually belong to the HR department. If they do not understand what the abbreviations and jargon mean, they will simply dump your CV in the trash can. Avoid over-using such terms as far as possible.

~ Reasons for leaving last job
Leave these reasons to be discussed during the personal interview. For example, some candidates write: Reason for leaving the last job: Made redundant. Avoid making such statements in your CV, they add no value. Besides, if you do get an interview call, chances are the interviewer will address the issue.

~ Past failures or health problems
Mentioning these immediately slash your chances of getting an interview call.

For instance, you have a gap in your employment because you started your own business which did not do well. Some candidates might write -- Reason for gap in employment: Started own business which failed. Do not do this type of injustice with your job hunt at this stage of writing the CV.

~ Current or expected salary
Leave it to be discussed while negotiating the salary.

~ Irrelevant details
Leave out the details like marital status, sex, passport number, number of kids, age of kids. These are usually irrelevant for most interviewers but at times could be used as a basis for discrimination.

~ References
Do not include them until asked. In fact, it is not even required to mention the line 'Reference available on request'. If the recruiter requires a reference, he/she will ask you to bring it along for the interview.

Now that you have run through the list, take a fresh look at your CV and prune away unnecessary details and unaffordable blunders that could have cost you your dream job.

Last page of a resume to compelete with.....

Here's how to write the perfect CV..

Here's how to write the perfect CV

Writing a winning CV is not as tough as you might think -- as long as you know the basic rules.

We invited readers to send in their CVs, which were analysed by HR trainer and CV expert Kshipra Singh. Among the numerous responses we received was GA reader Raamachandren R's CV. Here we present his CV along with an analysis and an edited version.

Certain details have been removed to protect privacy.

Words you should NEVER use?

While using the right words can strengthen your CV, the wrong words can cost you the opportunity to bag your dream job. You should ensure that you use the most suitable words to present your candidature but also make sure you do not use wrong or negative words and phrases.

There are certain words which are seen frequently on CVs but actually only serve to irritate recruiters/ interviewers and at times may even cost you the interview call, as they paint a misleading picture of you. In our last article, we saw 10 power words for your CV. This article explains the type of words you should not use on your CV. While you may choose to use them if necessary, for most situations they would be better left out.

Responsible for
This is a very common set of words seen on CVs. While the candidates do not realize, these are a set of most irritating words selectors see on the CVs. Until you provide additional information to show them how did you help the organization with this responsibility, these words are meaningless.

For eg, it doesn't make any sense if you just say "Responsible for promoting the product in north region".

The selector would wonder: When? For how long? What was the outcome? and may finally dump your CV thinking that the candidate is not mature enough. However, if you write "Promoted the product XYZ in "alpha" districts of north India from 2004-2006 achieving a visibility of 75 per cent", it will definitely add value to your CV.

I failed
Never ever use the word "fail", "failed" in your CV. While there is nothing bad about failing in something you do. After all, it is only when one tries that one fails. However, mentioning it on your CV shows that you have nit been able to make your peace with it or recover from it. While you should not lie in your CV, it doe not mean that you need to bare your soul either. Discuss such issues only if asked.

I hate my boss
This is another thing which you can absolutely do without on your CV. Discuss only when asked and even then, do not rant and rave. There are chances that the person interviewing you might know your current/ ex-boss.

I've been laid off
Lay offs are hitting almost every sector and noone is really safe. It need not necessarily be your fault that you were laid off, it could just be the effect of the current market situation. So, you don't need to mention the fact that you have been laid off on your CV. If you are called for the interview, you can address the issue then.

I suffer from...
Do not write about your health problems on your CV. They might be minor but may end up costing you an interview call. If you have a break in your career owing to health problems, leave them to be discussed in the interview, if asked.

Family ties
Unless you are applying for a job where the employer has to bear the expenses of your family or the information is going to have an impact on your working conditions, this information is useless to the interviewer.

Political affiliations and inclinations
You may have a political affiliation or inclination but your CV or interview is not the place to talk about it.

10 power words for your CV?

So far, our articles on CV writing mainly discussed what you should or should not write in your CV. The purpose of this article is to go a little deeper into the content of your CV and see what type of words can make the selector immediately shortlist your CV for an interview.

The basic purpose of these words is to demonstrate your hold of a particular situation and the actions you took to achieve a result or come out of a situation. One important thing to note here is that the immediate past tense of a verb is more powerful than the verb itself. Using a past tense also shows that you actually completed the work you started successfully. Adding some figures and facts along with these verbs would add more impact.

Let's see with an example how each word can be utilised to its full power:

1. Achieved

Good example: Achieved the target of implementing the software onsite for 200 users 15 days before the deadline.

Bad example: To implement the software onsite.

This sounds more like a responsibility. The interviewer is mainly interested in knowing about your output.

2. Built

Good Example: Built new premises to convert the study centre into a residential college accommodating 200 students.

Bad example: Building a new premise for the residential college.

3. Developed

Good example: Developed guidelines for 50 users to understand and use the new process for client handling.

Bad example: Developing guidelines to use the new process for client handling.

The selector and the interviewer will be amused with questions like: What guidelines? When? For whom?. The good example here answers these queries and shows your output rather than your responsibility.

4. Eliminated

Good example: Eliminated the use of thick brown tape for sealing the packages to reduce the cost by over 15 per cent.

Bad example: To eliminate wasteful of resources.

The selector will again have the questions like 'what type of resources?', 'how did your action help?'

5. Forecast

Good example: Forecast a downturn in the FMCG business because of economic slowdown. Suggested measures to combat it and achieve the quarterly target.

Bad example: To analyse and forecast the market.

6. Introduced

Good example: Introduced a new process to handle queries from potential customers to increase the conversion rate by 60 per cent.

Bad example: Introducing a new process to handle client queries.

7. Modernised

Good example: Modernised a chain of 15 retail outlets across three states to meet the taste of urban youth.

Bad example: To modernise the look of retail chain outlets.

8. Organised

Good example: Organised reseller conferences in three cities while maintaining a close co-ordination with three internal departments and four vendors.

Bad example: Organising events like exhibitions and retailer conferences.

9. Recommended

Good example: Recommended five new ways to ensure that the company is able to roll out the new version of its 'small car' before the launch of Nano [Images].

Bad example: Recommending ways for the company to roll out its new 'small car'

10. Secured

Good example: Secured first position in the university while pursuing MBA course and helped the college stand at the top of the list.

Bad example: University topper during MBA.

How do I use these in my CV?

1. List your responsibilities and achievements.
2. Find the one word that best describes your role in that situation such as manage, co-ordinate, plan, advise etc.
3. Begin your sentence with the past tense of the verb you decide to use for every responsibility.
4. Add some figures and facts to your statement.

If you are stuck with finding a good word to describe your action in the CV, take a look at this list of some frequently used action words.














































Teamed Up, Addresses technical and personal aspects of an interview.

Writing a CV that stands out??

hen you apply to a job opening there would be dozen other candidates applying for the same post. So, how do you ensure your resume stands out from the pile? What is it that companies look for while short-listing candidates? Here is a lowdown.

An entry- level resume

Highlight your non-academic achievements too: At entry-level when you have no industry experience, underscore your other achievements. "Highlight projects that you have done, awards you have bagged and companies you have interned with," says Rajesh AR, VP, temp staffing unit, TeamLease Services.

Companies also give high rating if they see you are a team person and enjoy good inter-personal relationships. So, if you are part of student's associations or an NGO, stress on these points. Of course, academics is the first thing that recruiters see, but extra curricular excellence does count.

Talk only about business interest: Trash the habit of mentioning interests like singing, dancing, music, swimming, painting or astrology. That's a complete passe. "Talk only about your business interest," says Sunil Kalra, consultant to a leading HR firm. And be well prepared. If you say your interest lies in reading, "Then know the book inside, out, upside, down," emphasises Kalra.

Gain proficiency in a professional area: While studying, gain competency in an area that will hold you in good stead in your professional career. Learn basic computer skills. Having done that, move on to adding other skills like Coral Draw if you want to get into computer graphics or learn accounting software Tally if you see your future in accounting.

A mid-level executive's resume

Quick TakeFlexibility and responsibility: When you have gained 3-4 years of experience, review your CV. For a person with 2-4 year's of experience and more, the thrust shifts on industry knowledge and his adaptability in the organisation, among other qualities. "At this stage, cultural fit is given more importance, flexible approach matters and the learning starts playing an important role", says Rajesh AR. The organisation sees if you have been flexible in previous roles and whether you are prepared for a new responsibility.

Personal initiatives: The companies also see the personal initiatives that you have taken to add on to your skill and knowledge base. While it hints your progressive mindset, "It also subtly, positively speaks of your career consciousness", says Kalra. Candidates should highlight those events where their ideas have been implemented; their analytical skills have been applauded.

Other must-dos

Be specific: If you are applying for a position in sales and marketing vertical, a requirement which is across industries, should you tailor your CV every time? Not really. Just be specific and highlight the best fit experiences.

Remain updated: Be aware of the news and current affairs. "Read newspapers", advises Rajesh AR. Read business writers. Focus more on your field

Communication skills: Work on your verbal communication skills and writing skills. Prior to the interview, prepare a list of questions that a recruiter might ask, write down the answers and read it aloud to yourself. Keep your answers to the point. Use these pointers and rest assured you will get an interview call no sooner your CV reaches the recruiter.