Perfecting the CV

A few years ago when I had to prepare my CV I decided to put myself in the shoes of the recruiter (which was not that difficult as I had to recruit myself before). After considering various scenarios it became clear that the most important thing in one resume is to impress the recruiter (he usually has to read dozens and dozens of CVs to filter the first short-list for interviews, so the first impression is crucial). One way to do it was to make him appreciate my CV – and what can help better here if not brevity and informativeness? In other words, I decided my CV should give all the important information without the need to read from top to bottom. To accomplish this, I split my CV into several parts, bringing all the important info to the front of it.

Begin with the standard stanza of your current status summary: age, address, phone, email address. It is a good idea to put one link here: it may be to your LinkedIn profile or to your personal page, if it relates with your occupation) Of course, make sure your linked web page is in good condition. The recruiter may not even check it but the fact it is there will already make you stand a bit out and will earn you a point for not being afraid to show your achievements.

Follow with an Educational Brief. Only stick to important milestones (elementary, college, University); training and certifications can come later.

Having been in the army is usually a good recommendation for men; if you have been in the military, add a one-liner about it. If you hold a rank, name it.

Next comes vocational practice. If you had multiple employers, you may omit minor ones (where you stayed few months, or those from the early days of your career). Here I decided to do something unusual: to split the long and boring vocational practice section into two parts: a brief one and a detailed one. In the Vocational Brief, only list time periods, employers and positions. Add company’s country if you have worked for international ones. If you occupied several positions with an employer, list the one you took longer. If you got promoted at the end of your stay with a company, say so in a second sentence.

In the Vocational Details section, give details for your chosen employments. Always start with one or two short sentences about the employer (if you worked for HP or Oracle – fine, but most companies, even mid-sized, may not be known to your recruiter). Easiest start here is to check the About Us page on company’s web site (modify/extend the info if you feel it is  appropriate). Next, give details about your position: team size, number of people managed (if any), your main focus. List your key responsibilities and key achievements. Avoid too many details or company product names – the recruiter is unlikely to have heard of them.  Next, describe the key projects and customers you worked for; shorten the list to the 3-4 most important ones. Finally, provide name, position and contact info (e.g., email) for references – usually the person you reported to. It is unlikely that they will be approached, but it will earn you another point for being open and ready to provide references. If you decide to give a phone number, use switchboard numbers and avoid personal or mobile ones.

After this, add a section to describe your major skills. Group them by topic (e.g., operating systems, programming languages, networking etc.). Better be generic than specific; only list particular products if you know more than one in a given category.

Next, provide brief information of additional qualifications you have: training courses, certifications etc. if a certificate can be verified online, provide a link to it; else, just give a link to the certifying authority.

If you run (or ran) your own projects which relate to your work (e.g., open-source software), provide a list of the 2-3 you consider most important and give links to them. If you have publications, list them here.

If you participate (or participated) professional organisations, name them (and give a link to their web sites).

Finally, give a one-sentence list of topics of non-professional interest (a.k.a. hobbies). 2-3 are enough; they will give a human touch to your professional profile.

Last but not least, strongly consider adding a photo to your CV. (Usually you can submit a photo separately when applying, though). The photo should be neutral, face-only or upper half of the body.

Good luck!

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