CV TIPS from an HR Professional

Gone are the days when CVs require a complete listing of every goal achieved during your lifetime or a two page covering letter trying to convince someone how awesome you are. I work in the IT industry within the HR department. My inbox is inundated with résumés all day. Over time, this has taught me the skill of speed reading résumé, and generally, I spend less than a minute looking at a CV. There are certain things that I look at, such as the location, education and professional experience of the candidate. And there are certain things that make me lose interest really fast.

Below is a list of dos and dont’s for effective CV writing:

Organise your vitae with sections such as personal information, education, professional experience, references, etc. When a CV does not have a neat and logical format, it makes the reader feel frazzled. Outline your skills, responsibilities and achievements, most relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Weigh if it’s worth including
Match your background, skills and training to the job you’re applying for. What to include depends on what the position entails, make sure your information is relevant and concise. Be creative in relating your experiences to the job. If the position requires team work, you might, for example, highlight working within a team.

Maximize your CV with the covering letter
Use the covering letter to highlight accomplishments on your CV. Note the word “highlight” – don’t give too much information. Always keep it brief.

No phone calls, please
This can be a grey area. But for the most part, if a job posting specifically says not to call – don’t call. Chances are the recruiter receives hundreds of résumés, and if every applicant called to ensure his/her résumé was received, it would result in an overwhelming amount of phone calls. By ignoring this, you’re also showing that you don’t follow instructions. What you think may be drawing attention to yourself in a good way may actually be doing the opposite.

No mass mailings
While most recruiters are aware that job seekers are most likely applying for positions at many different companies, there’s nothing that implies carelessness (or even laziness) more than seeing a slew of email addresses in the “To” line of a job seeker’s email, with a covering letter and résumé that have clearly been generalized to fit a variety of companies and positions. Though it can be time consuming to send out individual emails with your cover letter and résumé tailored to each position, it is still in good taste to do so. Make your relevant strengths stand out.

Make sure there is enough white space
Let your CV “breathe” visually. Don’t try to squeeze everything onto one page. Make sure your CV is well presented and readable. The prospective employer needs to be able to find the key information quickly. Follow a standard format. Bold the headers of the different sections such as education and professional experience and use a simple font such as Times New Roman. Bullet points can help in summarising achievements that can be expanded on at an interview. If your prospective employer has to work hard to read your CV, they will quickly lose interest.

A photo
Many people make the mistake of adding a photo of themselves to their résumé, thinking that their good looks will help get them an interview. Unless you are applying for a position where what you look like counts, such as modelling or acting, ditch the picture.

Cute email addresses
Inappropriate or “cutesy” email addresses, are a no-no. Get an email address that is professional to put on the top of your résumé. Seeing ‘’ is not going to win you any points in the job search.

Spelling and grammar checks
Attend to your basic hygiene: spell-check, grammar-check, style-check.

Attachment overload
There is no need to attach every certificate or award you have ever received. This is all irrelevant if you’re not successful in being shortlisted. My advice is to wait for this to be requested from you.

Text messaging and online chat abbreviations
This is the biggest blunder graduates make when sending their CVs. This shows a total disinterest in making a good impression, and even worse, a total disregard for the person reading your CV. If you are too lazy to type out words, why would anyone want to hire you?

Doing a makeover of your college social media presence
Most companies will check out a candidate’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts before hiring, or even before interviewing. Obviously, the kinds of pictures and comments that made you the life of the party at college are not going to be similarly impressive to future employers. On the other hand, somebody with no social media presence doesn’t appear to grasp the power of these tools. Post wisely.

Spend your sixty seconds well
Applying for a job can often feel like a huge challenge, and knowing that there are so many applicants out there can be daunting. But if you follow these simple rules, you’ll make sure your résumé gets past the first hurdle: the trash can. Better yet, if you tailor your resume and make sure it’s a fit to the company and job, you’ll definitely increase your chances of getting to the top of the pile.

You have sixty seconds to make an impression and for a recruiter to figure out whether your credentials fit the job opening.

Make every second count.