After months of relentlessly searching job websites and asking your friends to ‘refer’ your application, you finally came across a job that seems perfect. The work is interesting, the position is better, and it pays well. You apply, and check your email everyday to hear back from them, but in vain. But, you had put so much effort into writing an earnest cover letter, and updating your CV. You even got your content writer friend to make your CV ‘appear’ more serious and fancy than it is. So what went wrong?
Chances are your CV was put into cold storage even before the reader reached the end of the document. No, it wasn’t the lack of skills, or even the overcompensation language. It was simply the first impression. There exist some fine and unsaid rules about making your CV a notch above the rest. Believe us when we claim, HR and Recruitment Organisations appreciate brevity. Are you also unknowingly making the following mistakes:
- Photograph: There is no valid reason for you to include a passport sized jpeg in your resume (or worse a casual picture that is disproportionate and pixelated), unless of course you are applying for a modelling or acting job. If anything, it can be visually distracting and several organisations outright reject resumes with pictures. However, there is no harm in putting a professional picture in your LinkedIn and Monster profiles. Remember, the key word here is PROFESSIONAL; do not use your Facebook profile pictures from last weekend.
- Contact Details: Generally, the recruiter takes a split second to send an email template or call the applicant. So make sure all your contact details feature prominently in the first glance. Many a times, people use a subdued font type or size, or even push such information to the footer of the page. This can be a colossal mistake, for it is a tad bit annoying to search for a contact number in a document. Also, do not mention emails like jamesbond_rahul, or cuteprincess_riya, which you made when you were a kid, for it just reflects poorly on you. Make a new email if needed, it’s free!
- Bullet Points: Information like Education Qualifications and Work Experience is generally expressed in a table or bullet points. If you opt for the latter, remember it is OKAY to not use structured sentences. Even if you want to opt for a complete sentence, do not exceed one, maximum two. The concept of a bullet point is to get the information across in minimum words, so do not stretch your bullet points into paragraphs. Additionally, if the bullet point is a phrase or fragment of a sentence, omit the full stop, but if it is complete and structured, end with punctuation.
- Aesthetic Value: Do not vary the font type, colour or size unless absolutely necessary. Highlighting important information is best done by Bold or Underlining. Very important information might use both, but highlight only indispensable information like organisation name, position, CTC etc. A page border is optional, and can be used, unless it is jarring to the eye.
- Over-Sharing: A CV is a piece of paper that best describes your career’s achievements. Information like hobbies and interests, languages knows (unless the application requires it), marital status (unless explicitly asked), religion, and profession of your family members is of no value to your potential employer. Stick to mentioning your professional experience and skills.
- Length: The formula which says more the number of pages equals success might have worked back in school and college, but do not fall into the trap of filling pages, and making the CV appear ‘rich’ by including irrelevant information. The third prize you won in a Debate Competition, 5 years ago, must not feature in your CV. Plus, remove any irrelevant work experience. Focus on keeping your application short, and try not to exceed over a page, maximum, allowing it to spilling over to the second one.
These factors play a critical role in determining whether your CV gets shortlisted. Since not many realise the art that writing a CV is, many a times, blunders are committed unintentionally. In addition to the above pointers, make sure no grammatical errors appear, and the alignment of the document stays when it is printed! As much as your next dream job is about your skills and experience, your CV is the gateway to the same, so always keep improving and updating it in a timely manner.