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How to build CV that stands out in the crowd!

 

A Resume or a CV is every job seeker’s ‘Brahmastra’ that they feel will get them a job or an interview instantly. While it can’t guarantee you the job, it can certainly make you stand out of the crowd. But that will only happen when you know how to craft it.

 
 

In this article, we provide you a list of things to do and not to do, which you can use to craft your Resume or CV well enough to make an impression. So, let’s get started.

Why a Resume or a CV
Before anything else, you need to know why you need a resume or a CV and when to use what because unlike what most Indians understand, there is a marked difference between the two.
The recruitment process starts off when the HR Team gets a request to fill up a vacant position or a newly created position in the organisation. And along with that, they get a Job Description and/or a candidate profile preference. For the HR personnel, the next step is to float the job posting and invite resumes/CVs for prospective candidates. The previous 3 steps can be an automated process or a cyclic process as well, but the basics remain the same nevertheless. The CV/resume becomes the first step to weed out the unsuitable candidates and create a small cohort of suitable candidates to face the next rounds. So, the CV is the first point of impression that you can make on your prospective employers.

Feature CV Resume
Length Long – 2 pages Short – 1 Page
Coverage Entire Career Customised to the job requirement
  Static – Once made, needs to be updated Dynamic – Change as per every job applied to
Order Chronological No prescribed order
HR Requirements UK, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand USA, Canada
Cover Letter Mandatory Optional

Now I’ve been unabashedly using the words resume and CV interchangeably, like 99% of my fellow country men and women. However, the world doesn’t work like that and I feel this is a good place to give you the better intelligence regarding these twin words.
First let’s tackle the CV or Curriculum Vitae, which in Latin means ‘course of life’. That should explain it pretty well. But just to lay it out for you clearly, it is a detailed account of your educational and professional career. The key segments it should contain are:
1.   Educational Details
2.   Professional Details
3.   Accomplishments like publications, awards, honours
4.   Certifications, courses and non-academic qualifications
Now, let’s talk about ‘resume’. A resume, or résumé, is a very concise and targeted document. The primary objective of this document is to document the applicant’s professional history, educational qualifications and achievements in a manner which proves why the candidate is best suited for the advertised job. It is a highly customised document and should be dynamically modified for every job.

How to write a CV?
Let’s first learn to write a good CV, because that can prove to be an invaluable base for a targeted resume later on.

Key segments of the CV are:
•    Personal Details
      o    Name (largest font on page, middle initial is optional)
      o    Mailing Address – Small fonts and the brief mailing address
      o    Telephone Number – Mobile phone no as it will be accessible at points of time.
      o    Email Address - make sure it’s appropriate, don’t use your sexypanda45@gmail.com
      o    Link to personal website or Linkedin profile. Do not give Facebook, Twitter, Instagram handles.
      o    Picture, gender and marital status are Optional unless the job requirement specially                mentions any one of them as critical criteria.

  CV Resume
1st Sentence Self introduction via mentioning your strongest traits
2nd Sentence What sort of long term career you are looking at building. Telling the hiring manager which role you are applying to
3rd Sentence Highlighting the generic qualities that make you a  desirable candidate (optional) Emphasizing that you are reliable, and have company goals in mind
Example Highly motivated individual with an MBA in Marketing with strong SEO and SEM skills, attention to detail, and a solid online marketing background. Looking at building a career in Digital Marketing to provide thought leadership and implement best practices for digital marketing Hard-working student (3.5/4.0 GPA) with proven leadership and organisational skills, and minute attention to detail. Seeking to apply my abilities to fill the associate software engineer role in your company. I am a dedicated team player.

•    Career Objective
      The Career Objective segment needs to be customised depending on whether you are crafting a CV or a resume. In case it is a CV this segment should be more generic while in comparison to a resume it needs to focus on the job at hand.

•    Academic Qualification             
      o    Use a tabular format to highlight your academic achievements.
      o    Latest exam should come first.
      o    % should be accurate up to 2 decimals. You can mention the       GPA or CGPA instead as well but mention the scale as well
      o    Write Year wise/Aggregate details of graduation exams
      o    Follow Institute policy on declaration of Live/Dead KTs.

Degree Institute Board/University Percentage Year
P.G.D.M. MBA Institute of Management & Research Kolkata 71 2011
B.M.S MBA College of Commerce & Economics Kolkata 82 2010
H.S.C. Study School Kolkata 79 2007
S.S.C. Study School Kolkata 81 2005

 •   Academic Achievements
      The Academic Achievements can be mentioned just below the Academic Qualification table:
      o    Mention distinctive academic highlights example, Scholarships / Merit Ranks.
      o    Any extra courses / diplomas /              examinations passed.
      o    Any technical papers written and published. Do not write about a technical paper that found its way to your professor’s dustbin.
      o    Mention the Year of each achievement.
•    Projects & Internships
      o    Mention Final Year Project: Mention technical details. Describe the final year project in a short paragraph
      o    Mention Mini Projects ( if any)
      o    Mention live projects ( if any)
      o    Mention internships, if any
•    Achievements / Extra-Curricular Achievements / Positions of Responsibilities / Awards Won / Volunteering Experience
      o    ACHIEVEMENTS
             } Use action verbs
             } Do not write more than 4-5 achievements
             } Write achievements starting               from 10th Std onwards.
             } Always mention Year in the bracket.
             } Participation is not an achievement. So do not mention the events where you had just participated
      o    POSITION OF RESPONSIBILTIES
   } All your organizing experience can be written here.
             } Write 1-2 sentences            describing personal traits,  quantified impact.
      o    INTERNSHIP
   } Mention Name of Company, Duration, Work done.
             } Focus on the outcome achieved

•    Skills
      o    Mention Software / languages/ OS you are comfortable with.
      o    Programming Languages:  C,C++,JAVA
      o    Database :  MS-Access          
      o    Scripting Languages:  HTML

•    Hobbies
      o    Do not list more than 3
      o    Do not mention – surfing the net, going out with friends
      o    TV series & E-sports – proceed with caution
      o    Prepare well to handle questions on hobbies

NOT required : Strengths, Weaknesses, References Formatting Tips:
      •    Choose easy-to-read fonts
      •    Consistency is the key
      •    # Recommended Fonts:
             o    Times New Roman
             o    Arial
             o    Georgia
             o    Tahoma
             o    Century Gothic
             o    Calibri
      •    # Margins : 0.5 – 1 inch
      •    # Font Size : Change sizes in descending order for your name, headers, and bullet points
             o    Standard Format : 24-12-10
             o    Name (24 size), body headers (12 size), bullet points (10 size)
      •    # Line Breaks :
             o    increases readability
             o    Place it after each section

A Final Check:
•    Get 2-3 people read the resume & solicit feedback on
•    Important information missing
•    Irrelevant information added
•    Formatting
•    Spelling & Grammatical mistakes
•    Get final version ( soft & hard copy) after 1-2 rounds of iteration
•    Please save resume as “name.docx” and not “resume-version4”

The final project is often discussed in the interview. Please treat it with utmost sincerity and know it well.

 

Building your profile for the Killer Resume/ CV
•    Focus on Acads
•    Learn – technical Skills
•    Do a short internship
•    Write Technical Papers
•    Participate in Coding Competitions
•    Take-up freelance projects
•    Be a part of Student Clubs & Chapters
•    Volunteer with NGOs
•    Excel in your hobbies

Mistakes you shouldn’t Make
1.   Typos and grammatical errors
      The first impression that a grammatical error or a typographical error gives to a recruiter is that “You don’t Care”. Also, you wouldn’t want them to think that you can’t write in English. In both cases, you can be sure to be rejected. So, use the Ms-Word Grammar Check or take a free subscription of Grammarly.

2.   Visually Cluttered
      A CV written with 7 Different fonts with a splatter of bold, italics and underline in 5 different colours stretching from left margin to right margin might look like a masterpiece to you, but might result in the HR getting a headache. So, the best way to judge the visual appeal of the CV, show it to 3 different people and take their feedback. It’s better to down play the visual artistry for the sake of informational clarity.

3.   Plagiarism / Incorrect Information
      However tempting it might look, don’t start copy-pasting in your CV, the amazing activities that your roommate is doing in his office. If you have not done something, better not mention it in your CV. Chances are you will not survive the cross-examination in the PI.

Do not overstate the impact of your actions in your CV. Things like 1500% growth in 2 months sound exaggerated. At the same time, check your phone number, email id, address for accuracy. You wouldn’t want the recruiter to be calling you for an interview on a phone number that does not exist.

4.   Too Generic
      Avoid writing too generic or obvious aspects of your work. Mention something about your work only if you or others felt that it was significant. Follow the principle of When, What and How, for instance, when did you do something, what was it that you did and how did it impact the organisation or industry you were working in. Try to mention the impact in percentages or equivalent monetary terms.

Incorrect Responsible for heading the marketing division
Correct Headed the marketing division of 17 people to achieve 22% increase in lead conversions with 12% reduction in Marketing Costs

5.   “one–size–fits–all” approach
      Most applicants feel that since they have listed everything in their CVs, an HR will be able to glean the relevant details and give you a call. Unfortunately, a CV or resume gets 10-15 seconds of visual time. So, if you are using a CV, remember to send a customised cover letter for the job highlighting why you are the best candidate. Alternatively, use a targeted resume, as it highlights those parts of your profile that are relevant for the job.

6.   Lack of Action words
      Reduce the use of nouns and increase the use of verbs. What it helps to bring is energy in the CV. It shows the initiatives you have taken and makes the tone more active.

Incorrect Responsible for resolution of student queries
Correct Resolved user queries of 8,000+ students with 92% positive resolution

7.   Too Long or Too Short
      While there is no fixed about the length of a CV, what is expected is that it should be of an optimum length to contain all relevant information to present you in the best possible way. Long CVs of 4-5 pages bore the HR resulting in your elimination in round 1 itself. If the CV is of half page or 1 page then the HR might feel you are under-qualified or haven’t really done much in life. So, if you don’t have much to say, create a Resume of 1 page, while even if you have a lot to say, stick to a CV of 2 pages.

A Final Word
Crafting a CV or a resume is an art driven by logic and common sense. In spite of the best knowledge of English language and business acumen, most people fail in crafting a compelling CV or resume. That is because we always write what we feel looks good or is important. And we never think about how the HR will perceive the CV.
So, you need to question the relevance of every piece of information that you mention in your resume or CV. Ask yourself, if you were a HR and reading your CV, what will be your impression? And if feels insignificant and fails to throw a positive light on you, then drop it. Just because you have participated in the Mumbai Marathon, it need not be on your CV.
Make your CV short and sweet. Have some mercy on the poor HR. They spent days looking at black Arial and Calibri writings, they are expected to make the best judgement about someone from it. So, go easy on the HR, and you’ll see the difference
for sure.

The writer is a Computer Engineer with an MBA in International Business from IIFT. His professional career has taken him across 8 countries, working in 4 different sectors in companies like Tata, Triton, and NTL.