Whether you have just graduated from university or are a seasoned professional looking for a new career, preparing a distinctive résumé is a prerequisite if you want to seize an interview for your ideal job.
Your CV will shape the first impression and will often dictate whether you will make it through the application process's initial round. So, the résumé must look good enough to buy you the first positive impression.
Niaz Ahmed, a professional CV writer who has recently written a practical guidebook on CV writing, shared some of his top tips with The Business Standard.
His company - Corporate Ask - prepares all sorts of résumés, personal and professional profiles, LinkedIn and bdjobs profiles, bio-datas for marriages, cover letters and more.
"We work with a wide range of people and help them present themselves in front of different stakeholders," said Niaz, author of 15 career-related books.
Keep it simple, relevant and easy on the eye
Your CV should not be more than two pages unless you have extensive work experience of more than or equal to 10 years.
Ask yourself whether all the information included is relevant. You can always put additional points in your cover letter.
Your CV should be a comfortable read
Keep it simple with distinct sections, headings and bullets. Smaller bits are more straightforward to read than extended narratives.
Moreover, your CV is not the place to try out exotic fonts and colours. Niaz suggested, "Use simple fonts and avoid fancy graphics, colour, shapes, shades, tables, columns and so on."
Customised CV for each company
It is impossible to land a job with a one-size-fits-all CV. You need to tailor it to the specific position you are applying for. Hence, it will help tune the résumé every time you apply for a new job.
Get it through ATS
Employers usually use a CV scanning software called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter candidates from the application pool.
Be sure that you stand up to the automation and make it to the human assessment. Therefore, craft a CV that not only stands out to HR managers but also satisfies the digital gatekeeper.
"To pass through ATS skimming, pick up keywords by carefully reading the job details and the company's website. Any terms that are repeated or seem to carry particular emphasis are likely going to be essential to your application," said Niaz.
It is the first glimpse a potential employer has of you. The personal statement is crucial to compel the hiring manager to keep reading your résumé.
Flesh out your career summary to define yourself as a professional and cover particular areas most relevant to the job that you seek. To this, Niaz added, "Succinctly describe who you are, what your key skills are and what your career objective is."
Showcase your expertise
Experienced individuals can use the universal STAR - situation, task, action and result - model to provide practical examples from their experience.
"Explain the situation before you join there, the tasks you were given, the actions you had taken to accomplish these tasks and the result you brought for your company," said Niaz.
This helps you communicate your strengths to them. In addition, smartly show your career development ladder and do not forget to add the links to your portfolios, publications, blogs or anything else online.
Use powerful verbs
While explaining your job responsibilities and achievements, use powerful action verbs. Words like 'provided' and 'conducted' are monotonous, overused and add little value to your CV.
Strong action verbs, used with engaging language to outline outstanding achievements, are essential parts of a soundly-built CV. For example, instead of writing that you started a new system, try verbs such as 'initiated' or 'introduced'.
Focus on results
Employers do not simply want to see a list of duties on your CV; rather, they want to know the outcomes of your efforts. Do not be hesitant about emphasising areas you excelled in and highlighting your specific involvements in events and how you made a difference.
Statistics and quantifiable achievements are persuasive and give a real sense of the impact you made.
Note for freshers
It would be better if freshers have some exposure to internships, part-time jobs, voluntary work, extracurricular activities, social and corporate activities, training, soft skills etc. Niaz emphasised, "Students should involve themselves in different training in their respective fields."
Include LinkedIn and Skype
If you are sending a soft copy, hyperlink your LinkedIn profile for the employer to see your recommendations, group activity and content you have created or shared.
Make sure your online profile is up to date and in line with your CV. Discrepancies between the two will look suspicious. Besides, if it is a remote job or the employer plans for a video interview, include your Skype ID on your CV.
Recheck for minor errors
Recruiters for graduate positions are swamped with résumés. Spelling error is a go-to way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Even the tiniest grammatical error might indicate a lack of attention to detail, resulting in your application being discarded.
Have another person go at your resume to catch and rectify mistakes you have been gazing at for days; a pair of fresh eyes might be effective.
You will find plenty of advice on CV writing online and with it, you might be able to produce a decent résumé . However, if you want more than that, you can consult professionals trained in CV writing. They are well-versed in the art of constructing a resume that stands out.
It is a comparatively new trend in the market; it can quickly narrow down the list of potential employees for employers.
A video resume is mainly a short video on your career summary and what you can offer to the company. "Since it is a new thing, there are several technical issues, plus, video editing is an extra skill. I recommend professional help for this," said Niaz.