What makes a good CV?

September 29, 2015

Are there instances when you applied for a job but were not shortlisted? — was the question I asked at the beginning. I was facilitating a session on “Preparing CV and succeeding in Interview” for my office interns recently. Several hands went up. We deliberated upon possible reasons and ended up discussing what makes a good CV.  I shared the following five points:

CV should be tailor-made to the post:

Like you dress up differently to suit the occasion, your CV needs to have a fresh look and appeal to be attractive to the post you are applying for.  A participant rightly asked how to do this as job descriptions often ask for a number of essential and preferable competencies. It can indeed be challenging. My suggestions were: review the vacancy notice carefully and write down 3-4 key requirements. If you think you fulfil these key requirements, highlight them clearly in the CV.

Give an honest description of yourself and your work:

Be honest while describing your qualification, work experience and personal information.  Don’t write things you were remotely associated with. Don’t use big words or jargons, unless you really have  a hands-on experience of them.  For example, don’t say you edited a document if you simply proof-read it. Don’t say you developed a strategy if you were just a part of the process.

Provide specific information about your knowledge, skills, and contribution:

Your work experience should be written in a way that highlights your specific role and contribution to a team/project or the organization you worked for in the past.

Keep it short:

A good CV is short. I would not prescribe a page limit to this but would say keep it as short as you can. Reviewers don’t like to read long CVs. The points raised earlier about being honest and specific would help you in keeping it short.

Update the CV and check for errors:

Make sure that your CV is updated in terms of address, phone numbers, skills you acquired recently etc.  And before you submit, make sure there are no errors. It will be better to give it to a friend or a colleague to read. Another eye may spot an error which you may have overlooked. And you might get some good suggestions as well.