CV and Cover letters

  1. Background
  2. When writing your CV, you have to keep in mind that your CV is your introduction to the recruiters, the first glimpse they have of you. On the first stage of the recruitment process, recruiters have to sift through hundreds of CV’s and according to a research carried out by The Ladders.com, most recruiters only spent 6.25 seconds reading each one.

    Your CV should therefore reflect your personality, have a summary of your latest educational background and the skills/strengths you can offer to the company/organization. It needs to be focused, easily navigable with clearly labelled headings. Study the job descriptions closely and customize your CV to strictly include information relevant to what the employers require. Avoid making grammatical errors, repetition, clichés and using negative language and email addresses that look unprofessional. Most importantly, do not lie. In this case, honesty is truly the best policy.

    CV writing might seem like a daunting task now but not to worry. The purpose of this guide is to give you a rough idea on how you can give your current CV a facelift, focusing on the important parts of the CV that might garner more attention from the recruiters.

  3. Content
  4. 2.1 Personal Statement

    For some, this is probably the most difficult part to fill in since you are required to describe yourself as accurately as you can while keeping in mind that it should catch the attention of the recruiters and impress them at the same time.

    Remember that you should attempt to have your CV in just 1 page or the most, 2 pages, and that recruiters usually just spend about 6 seconds skimming through your CV. You therefore need to make sure that this part is done in the shortest way possible while highlighting your best qualities.

    One way you can summarise that as briefly as you can (preferably in two or three sentences) is to use the space to advertise only your most marketable traits. For example, “Energetic graduate with the passion and knack for the English Language, with 2 years of experience as a translator at the local court.” Putting the best information ahead of the good ones can be the theme of your overall CV.

    Another way you can do this is to find out about your personality type and just use the result you got for this part providing that you agree with the result. If you are willing to pay for the personality test online, you can opt for the Myers-Briggs test however free alternatives are available. Take a look at our personality test page for more information.

    2.2 Past experiences & Skills

    The experiences which you are frequently exposed to and harness contribute to your set of skills and these are the ones that employers are mostly interested in. It tells them of how eligible you are to be considered and included in the application process.

    In today’s competitive job market, employers have transitioned beyond just looking at your academic qualifications. Nowadays, there is a rising demand on “soft skills” or non-cognitive skills from employers. The Bloomberg Recruiter Report found from their survey that they have identified a set of highly sought after skills that corporate recruiters look for:

    a) Strategic thinking

    b) Creative problem-solving,

    c) Leadership skills,

    d) Communication skills,

    e) Analytical thinking, and

    f) Ability to work collaboratively.

    Knowing your skills and knowing the marketable skills that you should develop in the current job market can help tremendously in your career search journey.

    It is advisable that you start building up your portfolio now if you have not yet done so. Be active and research on the available opportunities out there. We suggest that you gain experience in- and off-campus through voluntary works, internships, workshops/classes, or join established clubs in order to learn a new skill and expand your network.

    2.3 Design

    On the design aspect, experts mostly recommend for it to have between one and two pages. We understand that it is terribly tempting to include all that you have done in there but if you were to do that, your best features might get buried beneath the others and might increase the risk of your CV ending up in the rejected pile.

    What you can try is to make it into a bullet style format again, with the attractive description at the top followed by the good ones. For those of you with LinkedIn accounts, you can also try to make use of their format by utilising their convert profile to resume generator. That way, you will be working with a format that is readily available and the recruiters will be able to know more about you via your online presence on LinkedIn.

    In some cases, recruiters have been known to keep an eye out for unique CV designs and have a preference of those that reflect the field the applicant is interested in such as someone who is interested in web designing sending a soft copy of his CV in the form of a website which showcases his portfolio at the same time. In the case of professional CVs however, it is best to keep it short and simple but packed with a punch.

  5. Dos & Don’ts
  6. Once you have grasped and decided on what you need to do and include, it is time to get started on giving that CV a makeover. Like any decent makeovers, there are a couple of things that should be avoided and you should look out for.

    Do’s Dont’t Keep it clear and concise. Use cluttered and flashy designs. Pay close attention to how you choose to arrange the details and stick to one format. Make sure that you do not have any grammatical errors. Tailor your past experience to suit the employers’ expectations for that particular post. Fabricate information. Use active language. Avoid repetitions, clichés and negative language. Have another person check it to get his/her opinion on it. Use those who you do not know well as referees.

    Here is a useful link to a UK career site Prospects which gives various examples of different style CV’s depending on the job you are applying for. Click Here