A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is the mirror which gives a company complete picture of the candidate. CV is a medium to market yourself.
Most people underestimate the importance of a CV (resume). Many of us put off writing our CV until last moment and do an inadequate job. Others feel that they know it all and treat the job of writing a resume far too casually. Actually, you would be well advised to ensure that both your resume and covering letter are so well prepared that they stand out among a thousand others, not only in content but also in presentation. Any compromises at this stage and you may not be short listed for the interview.
CV -Crucial in getting an Interview
Your CV is your first communication with the perspective employer. It serves as personal advertisement for you and must therefore, be organised in such a manner so as to make it interesting, attractive, brief and informative. Whether the interview is granted or not depends to a large extent on the impression created by the CV. If you wish to be one of the few to be called for an interview, you must ensure your CV is distinct from the hundreds of other CVs of candidates who may be as experienced or as well qualified as you. Today a good 20 to 30 per cent of candidates get rejected because they have not presented their CVs well.
Moreover, your perspective employers do not have the time or the inclination to meet all the people who may be interested in an opening, that makes it more important that among the other thousands of CVs, yours must stand out; not only in contents but also by the way it is formatted.
Essential Information must be Mentioned
There are certain items which must be included in every CV. Other items may or may not be mentioned depending on whether they are relevant or not. The items which must be included are given below:
Personal Information: Name, date of birth, marital status, language known, address, telephone number.
Educational Background: Institutions attended with years, marks obtained, qualifications, achievements, computer literacy.
Employment History: Name of organisation(s), years, designation(s), responsibilities, achievements and training programme attended. Include any part time or summer employment if you do not have any full time experience.
Stick to the Basic Rules
Stick to these proven guidelines for writing a CV:
· The term "Bio-data" is out. Curriculum Vitae (CV) has replaced it.
· Do not make a mistake of beginning your CV with the title "Bio-data" especially if you are applying for the managerial position.
· Before writing your CV sit down and think through what information you want to highlight. Include your achievements, your hobbies and interests, academic qualifications, details of your work experience (if any) and your job objectives. Don't write a final CV without including all these.
· Begin your CV with a section on personal particulars. Exclude family background.
· Write your date of birth and not your age. If your CV were to go in a databank, only to be retrieved 2 or 3 years later, it would be difficult to make an estimate of your age.
· You must give your phone number even if you do not have your own phone. Give a phone number of your friend or a relative who can pass on a message to you quickly. This is very essential as many vacancies have to be filled urgently and interviews have to be set up at a very short notice. Always mention the STD code of your town of residence if applying outside the city and remember to mention country code as well when applying abroad.
· Don't clutter your CV with irrelevant information. Mention your nationality only when applying abroad or when specifically asked to do so.
· Mention your father's occupation when applying for a position at the entry level or a junior level non-management job, or when specifically asked.
· Try and give maximum possible information in minimum space.
· You may include a job objective at the beginning. Your objective should be as specific as you can make it or it can be tailor-made to exactly correspond with the requirements of an advertisement to which you are replying.
· Make sure that the reader is quickly able to assess your accomplishments. If you have had work experience, start with your most recent experience and then the experiences that you have had with the organisations you were previously in. Your most recent experience will be the one most relevant to your new job. So mention it first and your previous experiences later.
· Similarly, start your academic background with the most recent qualification.
· Make sure that your CV is not longer than two pages. It should, at the same time, not be so short that your prospective employer does not know anything about you after going through it. It must be concise and should be informative.
Make sure your CV looks good. Presentation is of the atmost importance. You must:
(a) Avoid spelling mistakes.
(b) Use good quality paper.
(c) Do not send curriculum vitae with spelling errors corrected by whitening fluid or by hand.
(d) Use proper margins and spend time formatting it properly.
(e) Send the printed laser outputs instead of photocopying. It may cost you more but it says a lot about you.
Don't lie even if it is a small lie. Usually such lies are about achievements, grades and marks or summer projects. The personnel departments in most companies do take pains in verifying claims.
You may include references at the end of your CV. These are names, addresses and phone numbers of two or three people who could vouch for your character, competence and commitment. Ideally, these should be people who have worked with you, or your college professors. Many job seekers starting out in their careers feel that important people's references will impress prospective employers. Nothing could be further from the truth. A big name will communicate that you are a name-dropper who gets by on his father's contacts rather than achievements. An experienced interviewer will be far more impressed with the references of people who know you professionally. In any case, your prospective employer will check with referees, so make sure you ask your referees' permission before putting their names in your CV.
Use one or at best not more than two typefaces while preparing your CV. If you are looking for visual relief and highlighting then you can use block capitals, italics, bold type, underlining, varying font sizes, or any combinations of these. Choose a font that is simple and easy to read. Do not go in for a fancy typeface. It will take away legibility of your CV.
Don't leave gaps in your CV. If you have lost some years between your +2 and graduation or after your graduation, explain the gap.
Special Tips for the Freshers
Even if you have a professional degree from a prestigious institution and are looking for a position at entry level, you need to market yourself effectively to get a plum offer. If you are not from a coveted institution your task becomes that much harder because a number of top recruiters may not even visit your campus.
Your basic task is of communicating the fact that your skills, school and college education work experience, achievements, projects and extracurricular activities - all add up to make you the right person for the job.
Don't underestimate the value of your summer jobs, and your extra curricular activities. These are opportunities to use skills related to the job. They are often more job related than the academic qualification itself. The skills that you can demonstrate through any project or extracurricular activity include leadership skills, an ability to negotiate, plan and organise. In the absence of any direct organisational experience these add real meat to your CV. In other words, they help to differentiate you from the crowd and are often the most interesting part in your CV. Be sure to include all projects that you were in either alone or as a team and anything 'extra' you did.
Let us take a look at some of these in more detail.
Summer jobs: Normally any interview will include questions on summer jobs to test whether you understand the industry, the organisation and area of relevance. You are expected to be an expert in the area directly related to your training.
Extracurricular activities: These usually demonstrate interpersonal, communication organisation liaison, coordination and leadership skills. Were you elected to various offices? Did you organise any college festival? Were you instrumental in organising symposia? Did you contribute to the college magazine? Quite often any projects or extracurricular activities, are the most interesting part of you. If these are presented and defined well these activities can be a useful marketing device to land you with the right job, at right time.
Many companies have standardised application forms on the basis of which they shortlist candidates. Typically, the application form may be required to be filled in two or three methods before the interview and would include a statement of purpose. Many a candidate has slipped up in the interview even when all was going well in the interview. It is simply because what he said during the interview was inconsistent with the application form. Therefore, we would recommend that you keep photocopies of all your completed application forms carefully, especially of the statement of purpose, till the interview.