At some point in our lives, we all have to go through the task of summarizing our existence on this planet into two sheets of paper which will gauge our employability. Cruel, but that's how life is.
A professor once told me, 'A CV is something that speaks about you in your absence. In that case, wouldn't you want to make sure it's the best possible representation of you?'. Unfortunately, people don't place too much emphasis on that 'representation'.
While I can't help you if you have abysmal academic records and no relevant work experience while applying for the post of CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there ARE some basic blunders you can avoid. And here they are:
1. 'Listening to music, reading' under hobbies: That's like going to a restaurant and saying, 'Get me food'. In your CV, be as specific as possible. If you write something generic like this, you risk being asked something out of your comfort zone. If all you read is Chetan Bhagat, then say so. Otherwise with your generic 'reading', you could be quizzed on the literature of Somerset Maugham, or Bahl and Bahl's treatises on Organic Chemistry (that's reading too, no?). Being specific also lends an impression: 'Listening to progressive metal and classic rock, reading English humour and webcomics' – see?
2. Forget contact details: Imagine, you have all the credentials, the fire, the passion, the marks, the experience, everything. You've got the HR head and the manager of Sales interested. But… They can't find your number, or email or contact or anything in there. Well done, genius!
3. Have your 4th standard email address: Unless you're applying for a creative role, it's best to stay away from 'email@example.com' or 'firstname.lastname@example.org' or 'email@example.com'. As crushing a blow as it might seem to you, HR managers are not particularly impressed by your ability to substitute numerals for phonetic sounds. Trust me when I say that having a poor email address is the first turn-off for a recruiter.
4. Ramble: Some people believe 'CV' stands for 'Copious Volumes' and proceed to write essays about their life, education, interests, achievements, favourite colours (okay, maybe not that one, but you get the drift). Keep it short. Do NOT go beyond 2 pages. You're not that important that you need to go to a third page (no offence, but if you WERE that important, you probably wouldn't be reading an article on CV writing tips).
5. Write a generic 'goal': Most people feel this compulsive need to start their CVs with an 'objective', which is usually along the lines of 'to apply my taught and acquired skills in an organization to lead to personal and professional growth' or a variant thereof.
Okay, first off – what on earth does that even mean? And secondly – how does that differentiate you from everyone else? What were you expecting them to write? 'Hog the coffee machine and drain company resources while hitting on the boss' secretary?'. The 'goal' part of the CV is the biggest waste of your CV's real estate. Trust me, HR managers don't even look at it. Pass over it, and use the saved space to fill in an extra achievement or achievement – something that will ACTUALLY differentiate you.
I hope these CV tips help you out! Now go get ready and prepare for that interview (for which I'll give you a few tips next week!)
Image: Getty Images
Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka Chuck is a Mumbai-based cartoonist, blogger and green chilli aficionado.
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