A resume is arguably the most important piece of document in your career. Before you meet or speak to anybody in a company, you’re shortlisted based on your resume.
Some may think that the more experience you have, the better a resume is. Some may also think that a resume can be as good as the universities you’ve studied at.
But these are not the factors that determine a good CV. Even if you’re fresher or somebody not from a top university, you can still attract employers by presenting your CV in the best way possible.
One of the recurring themes when it comes to CV for jobs is the wrong format, content and overall presentation.
Let’s dive into some of the tips that will improve your CV almost instantly.
What should I include in my CV?
This is the most common question when it comes to CV or getting the CV format right. Certain things should be included in a CV, while certain things should be avoided. Other times it depends on your profile and your overall experience.
So, following are some of the things you should include in your CV regardless of your profile or experience.
- Name & contact: Include your full name, phone number, email address and mailing address.
- Academics: List all your academic details starting from your high school to the very last academic qualification you possess. Include the degree name, the year you passed and name of the institution.
- Work experience: List all the places you’ve worked at including your job title, dates and your core responsibilities. It always good list out a few bullets sharing your major KRAs within the organization.
- Acquired skills: Mention the skills you possess that you can offer to an employer. Soft skills, hard skills, mention them all!
- Achievements: List the achievements or awards you received at your previous workplaces. Mention the award title and for which organization you received it.
- Scholarships: If you’ve ever received a grant or scholarship then mention the year and institution that provided it. Mentioning your earned scholarship adds a lot to your profile and CV.
- Course & certifications: If you’ve done an independent course or certification to improve your skills then mention that in your resume. Mention the course you did, the year and from which institute. Mention the courses even if they’re part-time or online.
Now that we’ve covered the essential things which should be mentioned in a CV. Let’s move to the next common mistake people make, i.e. CV format.
Also Read: Career Objective or Resume Objective Samples
CV format - which one is right for me?
When it comes to CV format, three formats are the most popular in the world. Let’s go through each of them and understand which one is the perfect fit for you.
Chronological CV format
The first one and the most common CV format is the chronological format. In this format, your academic history and professional experience are listed at the top, right after your contact information. This is done to keep the focus of the reader on your academics and professional experiences.
Following is the order in which your information is listed on a chronological CV.
- Contact information
Now to the big question, is chronological CV format right for you?
Here are the people who should use the chronological CV format:
- Professionals with a consistent and extensive employment history.
- Work history that shows progress within a field.
- Newly graduates with experience in jobs or internships
- Professionals who’ve worked for internationally recognized organizations
Here are the people who shouldn’t use the chronological CV format:
- Professionals with successive job changes
- People with considerable gaps in their employment
- People who want to change career paths
- Fresh graduates with no experience
Functional CV format
A functional CV is all about showcasing your skills, achievements and awards. It emphasizes your skills rather than your professional experience and academics.
Here’s the order in which you should craft your functional CV:
- Contact information
- Achievements & awards
Functional CVs are best for the following people:
- People with employment gaps in their CV
- Individuals who want to showcase their skills over the companies and titles
- People who are transitioning into new careers
- Job seekers who are looking out a job after a significant break
- People who change jobs frequently
Here’s a list of people who shouldn’t make a functional CV:
- People with substantial work experience
- Individuals who are growing in their career paths
- Professionals who’ve spent a considerable amount of time within the same company
- People with no gaps in their employment
Combination CV format
The combination format is where you combine both functional and chronological formats to make a hybrid CV. In a CV like this, you focus on showcasing both your skills as well as your academics and experience. You can either place your work experience first or your skills depending on which one is more impressive.
So, if you have a lot of experience then showcase it first and then move on to skills. If you possess better skills than your combined experience, then obviously it’s better to showcase your skills first.
It also depends on the kind of industry you’re working in. For example, if you’re applying a job for a teacher, then your previous experience in teaching is a much better option to showcase first.
Combination CV is best for:
- People with excellent skills that are needed in their industry
- Technical and IT-based jobs which require specific skills
- People who are switching careers and wish to showcase their universal skills
Here’s a list of people who should avoid combination CV:
- People with no significant skills
- Recent graduates who haven’t acquired any skill
Now that you know about the different CV formats available and which one you should pick as per your profile, it’s time to talk about some of the crucial formatting mistakes people make which cost interviews.
Tips to ensure my CV gets selected by most recruiters
Now let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of a CV format and how you can improve your CV and overall chance of landing interviews.
Create a professional email
Research by Dr John Sullivan showed that 76% of people with unprofessional email address get rejected by recruiters.
It’s needless to say that a professional email address is very important.
So, scrap that “cool” email you’ve been using for your Facebook and create a professional one. Use your full name and keep it formal.
Keep the font size between 10-12
It may not seem important but if you use absurdly big font sizes, then you may get rejected instantly.
Because no recruiter has the time to scroll through 10 pages of resume.
Also, ensure that your font doesn’t drop to less than 10 as that may not be readable by employers.
10-12. That’s the sweet spot!
Bullets as in bullet points and not ammunition. Using ammunition isn’t a great idea to get a job!
Bullets make your CV more scannable and readable. It also makes your CV look neat and tidy.
Use bullets to give short descriptions of your roles and responsibilities at previous companies.
Works like a charm.
Also Read: 10 Things Recruiters Look For in Your CV
Consistency is key in every aspect of life and CVs, the rules are pretty much the same. If one of your subheadings is bold, make sure the rest of them are too.
If you’re using specific date format to showcase your work experience, make sure you do the same when mentioning dates of your academics and so on.
To make your resume easily scannable, use a lot of subheadings. You can also use them to divide your work experience, academics and more.
Subheadings are also good if your recruiter is using an ATS (Application Tracking System). Most busy recruiters don’t have the time to manually go through CVs. So, they use an ATS to shortlist CVs.
So when you have subheadings for each section, it’s more likely to be picked up by ATS.
Only add recent work experiences
A lot of the times, people with a lot of experience add every organization they’ve worked for, thinking they can make a positive impression.
In most cases, this backfires.
If you have experience of over 10 years, it’s better to show your most recent experiences. This cuts down the length of your CV. It saves recruiter’s time.
The shorter your resume is, the more it has the chance to be read by recruiters properly.
Leave spaces in-between sections
Nobody wants to read a wall of words. That’s exactly how your CV will look like if you don’t leave adequate space in between the different sections.
Make sure you leave at least 1.5 line spacing after each section. This makes the CV look tidy and much easy to read. It also defines when a section is ending and when the other one is beginning.
Keep your resume as long as it needs to be
I have been told by many people including my friends and family, that my resume is too short.
It’s only two pages long, which is not the general norm when it comes to CVs. But it has everything that we’ve discussed in this post. It showcases all that needs to be mentioned. And I never faced any issues with any recruiter.
So, don’t fall for this myth that good resumes are long and lengthy.
Make your CV long enough to cover every aspect that a resume needs to have, and don’t try to make it long unnecessarily.
Don’t use photos on your CV
You don’t need to have a photo on your CV unless a recruiter specifically asks you for it.
It has zero relevance in the recruitment process. Recruiters don’t reject or select based on how good you look in your passport-sized photographs.
It’s irrelevant. Stop it.
Add links to your socials and blog
A lot of companies ask for social Urls and some will check your social anyway.
Social media is bigger than ever and it affects your professional life as well.
Most companies these days check the social profile of candidates before hiring them. It’s done to see if you are the same person you presented in the interview.
So, it’s better to be open and mention your social links beforehand.
Also, if you have a blog that you wish to showcase, then mention the links to them as well. Just be sure that they’re correct and live.
Add a cover letter with your CV
This may not be the current trend in India, but it will eventually take over the recruitment.
Cover letters are so important!
You are more likely to get hired if you have a nice cover letter with your CV.
Cover letter sums up your profile and why you’re a perfect fit for a particular role.
Also Read: Writing a Perfect Cover Letter
Concluding, it’s important that you understand the different CV formats and which one is for you. Once you have your CV in the right format, make sure you use these tips to make your CV an experience than just a plain old resume.
Invest time in making your resume. Pick the right cv format and be sure to attach a cover letter with it.
Happy job hunting!