Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How to write a better resume?

Your CV does not get you the job - just the interview call.


1. Your Curriculum Vitae should enable the person screening a pile of them to quickly ascertain the salient points that will decide whether you are a potential candidate.

2. At the same time, it should also contain the detail that will interest an interviewer. To fulfil these attributes, it must be easy to read.

The standard way to layout a Curriculum Vitae is as follows:

1. Start with your personal details: name, address, phone numbers and email address.

2. Continue with your educational qualifications, professional qualifications and skills including software and methods.

3. Follow this with your experience in reverse chronological order. List employers, dates and your title. Describe the skills and methods you used and your achievements.

4. It is vital that you are conscious of the skills and experience required by the position for which you are applying and weave your own experience of them into your narrative.

5. End with interests and hobbies but be careful: candidates with a consuming hobby that could interfere with the business day, might be avoided.

6. Many recruiters advocate that your Curriculum Vitae fit onto two pages but don't feel constrained by this if you genuinely need more space to relate your key skills and experience where they coincide with the requirements of the position for which you are applying.

It is essential that your Curriculum Vitae clearly demonstrate your suitability for the position. So, consider producing a separate CV for each application that directly addresses a match between the skills and experience required and offered. The overall content may be the same but you could put your most relevant skills and experience first.

Your CV may only have a few seconds to impress the scanner before being relegated to the failed pile - also called the bin. So it is of paramount importance that your Curriculum Vitae can be easily and quickly read. Achieve this by following some simple guidelines:

1. When word processing your Curriculum Vitae, save it in Rich Text Format (RTF) to ensure that someone without your word-processing software can easily open and read it. PDF documents can also be read by anyone who has the ubiquitous and free Adobe Acrobat Reader but remember that readers will not be able to edit your Curriculum Vitae, which may or may not be desirable.

2. Use black ink printed on a quality bond paper.

3. Your Curriculum Vitae must be easy to read fast. You can achieve this by the use of wide margins so that each line of text has no more than about 70 characters. Think about newspapers that print in quite narrow columns that can be read by scanning the eye down rather than from side to side. Conversely, narrow margins with wide lines mean that the eye struggles to move to the next correct line when the distance from the right side back to the left is too far. Try top and bottom margins of about ¾ inch or 20 mm with left and right margins of 1¼ inches or 33 mm.

4. Although san serif type faces such as Arial have a clean modern look, it is actually easier to read serif faces such as Times New Roman, Palatino or Perpetua because the little feet or serifs on each character form an invisible line for the eye to follow. Because Times is so overused, you may prefer to stand out by using Palatino or Perpetua. Whichever you choose, stick with one font throughout. The only other layout that looks pleasing and that you will see used in many newspapers and magazines is to use a sans serif face for all heads and subheads and a serif face for everything else.

5. Don't mix lots of font sizes. Either use one size throughout - 11 point is a good choice - or use a font one point larger for heads and subheads.

6. A word-processor is not a typewriter, so don't use the space bar to align text. Set proper stops instead. This will also make it easy if a recruiter needs to amend your Curriculum Vitae to a standard house style because stops can easily be adjusted whereas unnecessary spaces take ages to remove.

7. Don't use underlining or ALL CAPITALS. They are old-fashioned, look like shouting and belong to the typewriter age when they were the only way to highlight text. Instead, use bold, italic or bold italic but do so sparingly.

8. Above all, leave plenty of white space. Firstly, it makes your Curriculum Vitae easier to read. Secondly, it gives the interviewer room to write notes.

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