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CV writing: Keep it honest, relevant, simple
Shifra Menezes
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June 30, 2008

When it comes to getting a job, the most important document you own is your CV. It is the document that gets you the call from the recruitment agency or headhunter, gets you the interview and eventually lands you the job, with due importance to your performance at the interview.

As important as these few sheets of paper are, not all of us pay as much attention to the details we put on it as we ideally should -- and we should, because, those sheets will be scrutinised by every person who has a role to play in getting you hired. Irrelevant details, shoddy penmanship or just too much fluff all lend a helping hand in getting your CV tossed in the bin instead of getting sent up to HR.

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"A CV is an advertisement tool that you present to your prospective employers. It must highlight the specific features written in a chronological order instead of describing your areas of interests and inherent qualities," says Shekhar M, HR manager with an advertisement firm in Bangalore. "We are more interested to know the value they can add to our organisation."


"I have been quite intrigued by the fact that people write bio-data as a heading for their resume/ CV," says, Richa Sharma, senior executive-HR with a retail outlet.

So what is it that HR is looking for anyway? We spoke to some professionals in the field to find out:

Keep it clean
So just what is it that makes a winning CV? Says Anuj Parag*, HR consultant, "Untidy CVs are an immediate turn-off. Crumpled, stained sheets are pushed to the back of the pile and neat, clearly printed CVs are paid attention to. I think most recruiters would agree that they do the same."

"I prefer CVs that have the name of the person up front. Sometimes people put in a paragraph of flowery language covering their career goals or a famous quote instead of stating obvious and useful information like their name, address, previous or current employer," he continues.

"Avoid putting logos of the companies you have worked for," says Mr Rajkumar, VP, human resources, with a leading real estate organisation, "And definitely avoid 'unique' e-mail IDs."

Cut the flash
Keep it simple, is what most HR professionals recommend. "We don't need to see your creative side unless the job demands it, and even then, the CV would not be the right place to display it," says Vijay Kohli*, HR head at a Mumbai-based IT firm.

"Your name and contact details at the top, followed by your work experience and educational qualifications printed on a regular A4 sheet of paper -- that's about all the information we need. I'm not looking for interests, hobbies, family history or a photograph (which should only be sent if specifically asked for)."

Tell no lies
Eventually, what will get you into the interviewee's seat is the fact that you have what the company is looking for and the interview is the next step to making sure you haven't lied about your qualifications or skills.

"Lying is the worst thing you can do," says Parag. Usually people who have lied about their capabilities get found out in the interview or technical test and if they manage to get past, they'll get caught on the job so it's really not worth the effort, he says.

Lying means that your CV is immediately tossed out. "You would be better off saying that you have rudimentary knowledge of a field, which might make the recruiter hold on to your CV for some other vacancy, instead of claiming to be an expert and proving you're not."

Update regularly
Update your CV as and when you pick up new skills or change jobs. "Do not leave time gaps in your CV," says Mitali Ghosh*, HR trainer. If you were unemployed for a time, mention it on the resume, however briefly. "Some people think that it will create a negative impression. But just leaving a gap of 1-2 years unaccounted for is sure to be questioned at the interview and by the recruiter. It will draw more attention and questions than a single line of explanation would."

Says Parag to wind up, "Be honest, relevant and simple in the language and presentation of your CV, that is all we are is looking for."

Also read: 8 things for an impressive CV | 12 things your CV should not have

*Names changed on request.

With inputs from Deeksha Singh

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