A natural question that is asked is how your CV can highlight all your strengths. The answer is simple. It can not and should not. But it must reflect your strengths in the context of the requirements for that particular job.
Remember to distinguish between pastimes and hobbies. All hobbies are pastimes but all pastimes are not hobbies. Things like watching cricket and movies, reading, listening to music and meeting friends are often just pastimes. If, for instance, reading were a hobby for you, you would perhaps be something of an authority on say Robert Ludlum or any fiction and would have actively worked towards enhancing your knowledge and understanding of Ludlum or Agatha Christie, etc. As you can see, this is quite different from filling time by casual reading (regardless of how much you appreciate reading).
Steps to Prepare a Good Resume
Let’s get down to actually writing your CV. You can make your CV by following these 4 simple steps. Let us assume that you are a fresher with little or no work experience.
Step 1: Prepare a chronological CV
Step 2: Research the job and company requirements.
Step 3: Figure out which of your strengths match these requirements
Step 4: Modify your CV to highlight these strengths
Remember that applications that make any of a set of cardinal mistakes are often discarded without a second glance at the first screening. These mistakes are:
- Unprofessional look due to reasons such as spelling mistakes or poor-quality typing/photocopying.
- Referees who are relatives or friends of your family or others who have no professional relevance.
- The basic requirements of the job are not present (and your CV offers no justification for qualities, considerations needed for the job).
If you avoid these potholes, then it is more likely that your application is going to move to the next stage. It is worthwhile to remember that your job application is not going to get you a job. At best, it will gain you an interview and that indeed is the purpose of the application.
In fact, many employers look at a pile of applications and think “How do I choose a candidate from these applications?” Therefore, you should never put down so much information that the employer thinks he knows enough to reject you (remember that he is not going to select you just on the basis of your application in any case). Just tell the employer enough for him to want to find out more about you.
You can attract attention to your application by developing an unusual, impressive CV. As mentioned, a senior HR Manager in a reputed firm looks through hundreds of CVs. A company that has advertised with a big splash may get thousands of applications from all over India. The fact is with such a deluge of CVs in the market, an HR person may have to scan several CVs, spending no more than a few seconds on each one. Given this situation, you have to present something for him or her to say: Yes, this candidate looks interesting!
There are some intelligent ways to go about this. You may pick an idea or two from here. Or you may put your own ideas similar to the following:
i) How about using colours inventively?
Even though you may have done your CV in black and white, you can take hold of a highlighter and highlight certain passages you think are important. For example, having headed a committee to organise a college function or being singled out for recognition by head of project could be highlighted to demonstrate unique skills.
Alternatively, you can work the whole CV in colour on a computer and get printouts in colour. Thus in the process of looking at a whole lot of CVs which are black writing on white paper, the recruiter may pause upon seeing a colour resume.
ii) You can also scan your photograph to have subtle effects.
It’s always a good idea to have your photograph on your CV. It helps a manager to relate to you while evaluating you – you are not just words and numbers, you are a picture too. Instead of the usual action of attaching your stamp-sized or pass-port-sized photograph with a gem clip, you can get your photograph scanned through a computer and print it onto your CV. You can make slight alterations in it in the computer so that it really looks special.
iii) Make a positive difference
You can make a positive difference if you attach a brief personal statement to your CV. If you fill that you have something special to say about yourself that separates you from other applicants. Give it a prominent place, instead of letting it get buried in the middle of your CV. Thus this statement could be a neat little paragraph in quotes on a separate sheet of paper attached along with your CV.
It could be about your qualities, your ambitions or your track record. These simple but strong personal statements could bring a personality alive. Experiment with – I feel I have the ability and proven record to work well in teams. Teamwork is something inculcated into me since school when I led the mountaineering expedition successfully. I learned then that the secret of teamwork is…
Alternatively, you may be talking of something else: e.g. I am not afraid of responsibility. Being the eldest of four children I have always had to take it upon myself to decide…
iv) How about using a diagram?
Take a look at the majority of the CVs. They are lots and lots of words with perhaps pictures on the upper right-hand corner. Now N just imagine if you were to convey information a wholly different way. Use a diagram of some sort and see for yourself how much it stands out. Take for example a page entitled “The mix of qualities in me that make me ideal for this job”. It would be a refreshing change to express this information by using pie charts, graphs and bar graphs.
How about making references come alive? References are always a good idea when you are making out your CV. These will be from people whose opinion matters, perhaps your Principal or your Project Head who feels that you have potential. However, instead of merely listing out a name, designation and phone number, what if you get your reference person to put down a statement about you.
Just look what a clinching difference these few lines make to the prospects of a candidate. “I feel that Rajeev shows great promise when it comes to organisational ability, and will be a positive asset to any team that he is a part of.” Shree K.K.Jha, Principal, Science College, Patna. A section with two or three quotes like this is bound to add power to your CV.
These are some suggestions to make your candidature stand out. They are by no means an exhaustive list c They are merely to show you that a CV need not be a dry piece of character. If you think inventively, your profile can have as much character as your face, or your signature. Which means that rather than being another piece of paper in a pile it could be something that attracts attention!
However, while you experiment, you do take a risk. But don’t be a conformist. Our system has rewarded people who have dared to think differently.
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