All of us in the office are avid readers: recruiting news, market trends, industry updates and movements, basically, any piece of interesting info that comes our way, we have our hands on them. You know, because we are naturally curious and interested in what we and others in our space do.
Recent years have seen a lot of CV generator sites that spiff up your large texted base CVs to beautiful, iconographic ones that are becoming quite trendy. Some of these are free and some are payable:
While we are neither partial towards or against it, we do know some of our client’s preferences and it really depends on the company and the hiring manager so we usually advise our candidates accordingly. After all, the objective of your CV is not to win awards but be read and get your shortlisted, right?
Regardless if your CV is in plain text or Fancy, it still needs to display your achievements, responsibilities and if possible, career objectives and your strengths. We list the following points as basic info your CV should contain, for without it, it’s hard to differentiate you from another CV.
★. Quantify your achievements
We often come across experienced Sales candidates whose CVs have no references to the numbers, quotas, achievements, or at least a percentage of their achievements. Instead, there’s usually a long list of “Responsibilities”. I was responsible for X, Y, Z etc. This is not ideal. While it is fair to protect your previous and current employer in terms of sensitive data, there has to be information given in such a way that the reader knows you met your numbers consistently, under what circumstances, having what kind of resources, the range of deal sizes, any vertical specialty for it to have weight in conveying that this candidate is a high performer.
★★. Customization is king
Yes, slightly tweaking your CV to highlight the areas of fit and the evidence of similar past performance would be beneficial. Unless what you did was very specialized or niche, chances are, in this day and age, everyone multitasks and put on different hats and sometimes you simply can’t put in all that you did.
We believe in spending a little more effort to align your CV according to what you did in your career to what the role you’re applying for, would be worth it.
After all, if you are giving a proposed solution to a client, you wouldn’t be telling the client all the things he doesn’t need in the proposal, would you?
★★★. Find the right length of content for the career stage you’re currently at
No matter how senior you are, there is no need for a 17 page CV.
I had a candidate whom I tried very hard to convince to scale down his CV but his take was that he had done a lot of work and was rather senior. Frankly speaking, there were a lot more senior executives whose CVs are two pages long but it spoke volumes. A longer CV doesn’t always reflect your seniority or your experience.
Always think about what’s relevant for the job, not how lengthy your CV should be.
★★★★. Do you put a picture or leave your CV without one?
I usually send the pictures only when I think the picture lends credibility to the CV but even that is sometimes subjective to the reader. On LinkedIn, yes, definitely put a picture for your profile because LinkedIn is a platform where you connect with people you already know and their connections and people remember faces a lot better and associate a friend or foe connection with it, whether subconsciously you know it or not.
On your CV, however, I think sometimes the picture may have a tendency to create biases unconsciously and prevents him/her from being shortlisted. Your consultant should be able to give you some advice there.
★★★★★. Don’t write your CV in excel then paste it in a Word document
To put it bluntly, this act is really rather pointless. I suppose it started with technical candidates who are used to preparing proposals in such “aligned” project management style that it extended to their CVs as well.
It is usually a nightmare for headhunters to reformat or ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems to accept. Besides, there are many neat and attractive looking CV templates you can use out there, yes, not the fancy ones, don’t worry.
★★★★★★. Cover page - yes or no?
In many applications, I think it is useful for applicants to put a few bullet points (not an essay please) on why their experience and/or aptitude would be relevant to the job and what can they can bring to the table for the employer and what they hope to learn there. Every role solves a problem within a certain context, so if you can present how you would solve that problem within that circumstances, chances of getting the job would be very high. Whether in a form of a cover page or an email blurb, the content is more important than the medium, in my opinion.
E.g. A startup is hiring a customer support role. A quick google search tells you they have less than 5 people in their own office. You can imagine, this role will wear many hats; customer support, someone who might have some training but would largely be on your own to be resourceful and solve customer’s problems independently. You might need to fix the printer or the network access. You may need to order water for the office or even furniture. Leads come in and you might need to help handle the call when the only Inside Sales colleagues is on the line.
What have you done in your career so far that shows such versatility, independence and resourcefulness besides having the hard skills of customer support, in say, ITSM?
Those are the bullet points you can put across in your CV, it will show that you have thought about the role and you can contribute within that context.
Written by Josephine Chia