4 Key Rules To A Great CV

Apr 21, 2017 1 Min Read


Why it’s important to make a first good impression

Employers and hiring managers receive hundreds if not thousands of CVs on a weekly basis. The letters CV stand for curriculum vitae which is Latin for ‘course of life.’

To make matters worse, Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov say, it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression about a stranger’s face.

The same can apply to your CV as well. It doesn’t take long for an employer or a hiring manager to scan your CV before forming an impression of you

The reality is, reputable companies that receive many applications on a weekly basis, may use their basic judgement as the first filter in their hiring process.

Although we were taught not to judge a book by its cover, the harsh reality is that we all do because of our human nature.

Preparing your CV can be a daunting task. A good CV is much more than readable fonts, attractive colours and a tidy layout. Although it is important to keep the above, they are merely the basics. You’ll probably never get a second chance to make a great first impression.

This might interest you: Infographic: Top 10 Ways To Make A Positive Impression During Job Interviews

As hiring continues to increase, job seekers (especially fresh graduates) will face stiff competition this year. Here are four key rules that you should keep in mind when writing your CVs.


#1 Keep it real

A CV is simply an extension of yourself. It should paint a good picture of who you are in real life. You are highly encouraged to include past education qualifications, job experiences and awards, if you have any.

This will boost your capabilities and credibility and gives the hiring manager some sense of assurance that they are considering a capable candidate.

Never fall into the trap of “faking it until you make it” because the truth will always find a way to reveal itself.

The hiring manager will always find out who you really are, and when that happens, you would have created a bad impression for yourself.

The best person to be is yourself. So, just be yourself, don’t be just another John Doe.

P.S. Do not include, ‘Won Nobel Peace Prize 2016’ in your CV if it isn’t real.


#2 Keep it current

When was the last time you updated your CV? Three, or maybe five years ago? Some say that you should update your CV every six to 12 months to add new skills and experiences.

But the ugly truth is, most people shelve their CVs the moment they are comfortably employed allowing it to collect dust. If this is you, you’d want to clean the dust off your CV and start updating it to land yourself a sweet new job.

Any software engineer will advise you to update your software to the latest version because of the impressive new features and benefits that come with it.

Similarly, you’d want your future employer or hiring manager to be equally impressed while reading your credentials and achievements. Old may not necessarily be gold.

Impress them with your latest jobs, awards and achievements because it would reflect you well. Keep it as current as you can. Nobody likes to read a CV that you drafted five years ago.

Related post: Job Interview: The 5 Questions You Must Ask


#3 Keep it short

“How many pages should my CV be?” This question seems to have a lot of answers to it. Some say one page is the safest, whereas some say not more than two.

Honestly, it all depends on the content of your CV. If you have 40 years of working experience, it is understandably difficult for you to fit everything in a one or even two-page CV.

It is not realistic for you to do so. However, fitting your CV into a page is a good approach if you do not have any work experience or have had just one job since leaving school.

If possible, do keep your CV layout to two sides of an A4 paper. A common mistake we all do is reducing the font size and sub-headings to fit it all in.

Rather, find ways to paraphrase your sentences and points instead. Make use of columns, line breaks and bullet points. These subtle formatting tips can go a long way and make your CV more appealing at the same time.


#4 Keep it accurate

Confused between the usage of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ or between ‘than’ and ‘then’? Perhaps you’re unsure of when to use American or British English.

Simple spelling or grammatical errors can be the difference between getting a job and losing it! For example, it may seem obvious that you would or wouldn’t have spelt the person’s name correctly.

A simple but often overlooked procedure is to do a routine grammar and spell check before hitting the ‘SEND’ button. Go the extra mile by finding out the name he goes by in the office. It might turn out that Mr John doesn’t want to be called Mr Doe after all.

If you’re sending out a ton of applications at once, be sure to double and triple check that you’re sending the right CV to the right person and company.

Take the extra effort in adjusting your CV to tailor it to the specific job advert. The more precise and accurate you are, the higher the chances that your CV will land in the ‘accept’ tray.


Closing thoughts

Writing a CV is an art. Like any art, there isn’t a frame that one can follow to write a perfect one. Every CV is unique and special because all of us are unique and special.

Writing a CV is an on-going process. Like any masterpiece, it is a never finished work.

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Joshua Yee is a caffeine-dependent life-form. He wants to live in a world where cars can fly, teas are banned, and iPhones are cheaper. He is passionate to see young people stand up to fulfill their fullest potential in their own unique way.

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