By Shilpa Sardesai

16 December 2021 - 10:04am

A successful CV is key to a successful career

“Why do we write a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

This question may come to a job seeker's mind while writing a CV. The answer might decide just how effective his or her CV will be. 

When applying for a job, the first step is to write a CV that a recruiter can go through to decide whether the candidate is suitable for a job profile. This is the solitary most important document that determines whether the first milestone for getting selected for the job is crossed.

A well-written CV serves many purposes:

  • It is the only document the recruiter has to decide whether a candidate meets the requirements of the job.
  • It is among many other CVs, so it has to stand out to catch the recruiter’s attention.
  • It doesn’t just outline qualifications and experience but also articulates why a candidate fits the role better than the others applying for the job.

How much time does a recruiter spend on your Curriculum Vitae? 

When a job-seeker spends hours writing and re-writing a CV, it is natural to expect the recruiter to spend enough time going through each point. This is assumed especially because candidates feels that a recruiter will want to know everything about their lives. The recruiter will find it convenient to have all the smallest details about the candidate right from his primary school days till today, right?

Actually, no! 

The recruiter spends less than ten seconds going through a job-seeker’s CV to decide whether the person is suitable for the job. 

Sifting through hundreds of CVs to find candidates suitable for job profiles is what recruiters do every day. Online job portals use artificial intelligence and algorithms to filter CVs through skill and role keywords. 

How to write a CV for a job application and make it CV stand out among all rest?

Let’s start with key points to keep in mind while writing a CV:

1. Keep it short
 A painstakingly-crafted CV, which a candidate might have spent hours in putting together, needs to follow the idea of ‘Less is more’. The ideal length of a CV is no more than one page. The more the achievements and qualifications, the greater the importance of keeping it brief. One page is all that’s needed to draw the recruiter’s interest.

2. Value your past 
Include only your past data like your educational qualifications, experience and achievements. Do not include anything that has not yet taken place like, “If given the opportunity to work in a team, I will perform very well.”

3. Check the basics
The recruiter will form the first impression about you from your CV. Check the grammar, spelling and punctuation. Ensure the data you have presented is correct. The font, font size and formatting should be pleasing to the eye.

4. Update your CV regularly
Online job portals show the most recently updated CVs in latest searches. Keep revising your CV frequently to ensure it stays on top of the recent posts to be among the ones the recruiter looks at first. Incorporate the latest skill keywords into your CV to show up in searches.

5. Give it your flavour
The CV is a representation of who you are, what you have done for a major part of your life and what you believe in. Articulate your values and match them with skills the recruiter is looking for to make it into a combination the recruiter cannot ignore.

Keep reading to find out more about this!

Remember, your CV is the valuable tool that you will use to present yourself to the recruiter. To convince him that he needs to select you over the others, the CV needs to include much more than just your qualifications or experience. This mouthpiece is going to talk to the recruiter on your behalf and tell him that you are in the forefront. Make sure it is conveying all the right things.

What is the structure of a good CV?

The structure of a CV is the foundation on which you will build further. Plan to make this base strong, so it gets easier for you to fill in the required information. When the basic structure is ready, you have to add all the required details to customize your CV to the requirement of the job profile you are applying for.

While giving a structure to your CV, keep the ‘power of three' in mind. Divide your information into these three major buckets:

  • Personal details
  • Details of experience (professional or non-professional)
  • Knowledge pouch

Consider each of these elements carefully when deciding how to write a CV for a job. 

Personal details

1. One-liner branding

State your professional qualification and your area of interest in a single line at the beginning of your CV. Try to match your area of interest with the role you are applying for.

For example, I am a Humanities graduate with an interest in interacting with customers and offering resolutions to their issues.

Such branding will tell the recruiter more about you. Don’t forget to customise your statement to the requirements of the job you are applying for.

2. Recent photograph

Include a good photograph in formal attire with your personal information. A photograph helps the recruiter to put a face to the name while helping form a good first impression. CVs with photographs have more chance of getting selected than ones that don’t have one. A neatly groomed photograph gives the first positive visual to the recruiter.

3. Contact details

Check whether your contact details have a reachable phone number and a frequently-checked, formal email address. Configuring your email address on your phone will ensure you will receive an alert for any email received. Swift responses to attempts made to establish contact by the recruiter will help in forming a good first impression.

4. Pictorial presentation

Instead of presenting educational qualification in tables, try presenting it in a pictorial format horizontally. Doing this will help your recruiter to see your qualifications at a glance. In addition, it will be a neat and concise way of presenting the information.

5. Internships

A valued intern brings in his own skill-set and has an impact in the workings of an organisation. While giving details of your internships, mention what your contribution was in terms of value and how it benefitted the organisation.

For example, I created a new template for orders to be placed with suppliers. This resulted in saving time due to a reduced requirement for clarifications.

6. Value contribution to society

Most organisations these days have a keen eye on how the candidate adds value to society. Such a contribution can be divided into three parts:

  • Social contribution – Volunt3at non-government organisations
  • Saving the environment - Participation in tree-planting drives or similar activities towards sustainability 
  • Contribution towards health- Donating blood or other supporting health related activities

Any contribution in these areas definitely need to be mentioned to set your CV apart from the others.

7. Contributions made to the family

This can be especially useful if you are fresh out of university. There is a lot of value which can be added to tasks carried out for the extended family. Mention here any extra help that you offered when it was required.

For example, I was responsible for procuring the flowers and decorating the premises with them in my brother’s wedding.

8. Free-time activities

If you write something that you do in your free time in your CV, make sure you are able to answer questions on it if you get selected. Stay away from writing activities which everyone does, like listening to music. A creative hobby will go a long way in making a recruiter curious to know more about it.

For example, I like to spend my free time in coaching the neighbourhood boys in soccer.

9. Activities at university

Any employer would like to hire someone with a well-rounded personality. A candidate who has not only done well in academics but has also been actively involved in other activities at the university will always stand a better chance here. Your extra-curricular activities at the college level will help give that edge to your CV.

For example, I anchored the four annual events at my university, which required coordination with various teams in order to tie up all the activities together.

10.Flexibility at work

A candidate displaying flexibility towards work schedules can be a useful resource to the employer, and this is something every recruiter will look out for. Mention your comfort levels in working in shifts or moving to another city in your CV. A job-seeker who shows willingness towards changing his routines will always appear more attractive to the recruiter. 

Details of experience

Professional experience, if any, needs to be clearly highlighted by the candidate to match the requirement of the job profile on offer. An employer wants to hire a candidate who has the required skills, knowledge and attitude for the job. If the recruiter feels you have more knowledge or skills, he will prefer you over the others. 

In your CV, bring out the skills you gained from previous experience to complement the needs of the job profile you are applying for.

The details of experience should include four major parts:

  • Name of the previous organisation
  • Years and duration of employment
  • Responsibilities of the previous role
  • The value and impact created by your involvement

The last part which explains how your performance impacted the organization is something every recruiter will definitely glance at. Mention here any beneficial change you brought about in your previous role, which was appreciated due to its positive impact on the day-to-day functioning.

For example, I saved extra labour expenses for the organisation by automating a process. This kind of a statement will give a quick example to the recruiter on how you can effectively add value by applying your mind to the task given to you.

Knowledge pouch

The knowledge pouch primarily tells the recruiter the skills a job-seeker possesses. Some of these may be acquired while others are inherent. These skills can be primarily divided into two sub-parts:

  • Skills- technical, behavioral and value
  • Certifications, if any

1. Technical skills

In technical skills, the candidate needs to bring out the skills he has and match them with the requirements of the job. If the job requires a thorough knowledge of any operating system or computer languages, this needs to be mentioned in detail. This is a section that the recruiter will spend a bit of time on as it determines whether you are technically sound to fulfil the requirements of the job. 

2. Behavioral and value skills

These skills add character to your CV. They show that the person writing the CV is much more than the qualifications and technical skills he or she possesses. Write powerful short stories which highlight your values and what you stand for.

For example, I believe in looking into the minutest details of a task, and so was given the task of laying down the Standard Operating Procedure of a process.

3. Certifications

Any additional certifications which you obtained to add to your already existing skill set will ensure you have an advantage over someone who doesn’t. Use such certifications or additional qualifications to your advantage. The validity of the certifications should also be included here. 

4. Languages known

Mention the number of languages known and your comfort level with the three skills required for proficiency in each one of them- speaking, reading and writing. 

What are some Do’s and Don’ts to bear in mind while writing a CV? 

Do’s

  • Match your skills with the requirements of the job.
  • Value your past with your qualifications and worthwhile ways in which you spent your time.
  • Bring out not just the knowledge but also the values that you will bring
  • Brand yourself by giving your CV a personal touch.
  • Customise the CV to the job profile you are applying for.

Don’ts

  • Write anything but the truth in your CV.
  • Talk about anything that you will do in the future
  • Mention skills or values that cannot be measured.
  • Make a CV more than one page in length.
  • Give a lot of details.

Writing a CV is an art. It is not just a document in which you mention your qualifications and experience. In your CV, you tell the recruiter the facts of your journey from a student to a professional. 

To present a summary of your professional qualifications and accolades concisely, while ensuring all the key points are covered, you will find one page is enough to present yourself as a candidate suitable for the job role on offer.

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