8 Essential CV Tips That Will Make a Huge Difference

  • 1. Write for the Future not the past

    The objective of a resume is to present you in the best way possible to a future job. The employer needs to know more about what you can achieve at the moment rather than how you evolved in detail.

    That does not mean that you should not list past jobs but don't theme your resume in a boring chronological order. List all the achievements in your professional life at the beginning and then in a brief list the previous jobs and the company's names.

  • 2. List Achievements, not Tasks

    Avoid listing detailed daily tasks and duties that are just part of your job description. List important achievements and competencies that set you apart from others.

    Contrast the below two resumes (reception manager position):

    Achievement Oriented Resume
    » Reduction of customer waiting time
    » Improve the quality of service using multiple feedback options
    » Introduced a queuing system to handle a large amount of customers

    Task Oriented Resume
    » Setup employees shift timings
    » Make sure appointments are taken on time
    » Follow up on schedule

  • 3. Quality not Quantity

    Try to make your resume as short as possible.

    It is important for your resume to be as short as possible without skimping on the important information. A successful technique followed by many is to write a full-length detailed resume and start chopping after that.

    After you have decided on the minimum amount of content, use software editing techniques to squeeze your resume in the least number of pages possible without hurting clarity and organization.

    As rule of thumb, a resume should not be more than three pages long.
  • 4. Use Bullets not Paragraphs

    Replace all paragraphs with bullets. Bullets and listing add clarity to the resume and makes it organized. Furthermore, bullets make the resume easier to assess in the initial 10 seconds resume screening process (where 90% of all resumes go to the trash).

  • 5. Career Title instead of Objective

    If you have enough experience in your field and claim yourself an expert, it might be wiser to use a professional job title under your name instead of an objective paragraph. When you use an objective paragraph you are saying: "This is what I would like to do". When you use a professional title, you are saying: "This is who I am and this is what I do best".

  • 6. Use a Summary of Qualifications

    The first thing that should be in your resume right after the career summary section, which lists three to four reasons why you are qualified for the job.

    In this section, don't write about virtues and qualities like "very organized" or "excellent communication skills", instead list accomplishments or landmarks in your career that you consider important for the job.

    Example of a good summary of qualifications:

    » Conversion to 100% paperless environments
    » Streamlining cross department communication through shared calendars
    » Cost reduction though proper use of asset management software

    Example of a bad summary of qualification:

    » Very organized and able to manage time effectively
    » Excellent communication skills
    » Dedicated and hardworking

    Ideas for writing a summary of qualifications:

    • Experience Duration
    • Achievements
    • Education Levels
    • Certifications
    • Past Projects
    • Personality Characteristics
  • 7. Avoid Gaps Wisely

    If you have gaps in your work history, you may need to hide that wisely. There is nothing wrong with having gaps and that can be for many legitimate reasons: illness, unemployment crisis, death in family, etc.

    People are subjective and may not be willing to understand these things or assume you are hiding something.

    1. Use only years:

      For example if you quit your job in January 2007 and rejoined in December 2008 then do not phrase your work history like that:

      >> December 2008 - March 2009 Job Two
      >> April 2006 - January 2007 Job One

      This exposes two years gap in your career. Instead rephrase it like this:

      >> 2008 - 2009 Job Two
      >> 2006 - 2007 Job One

      That looks much more decent and most importantly, it is true.

    2. Reduce your working history to hide the gaps.

      For example the following work history exposes two years gap:

      >> 2006 - 2009 Job Three
      >> 2005 - 2006 Job Two
      >> 2001 - 2002 Job One

      Write off the first job; after all, it is only one year and it is at the beginning of your career. Early jobs are much less important than newer ones and in this particular case they will do more harm than good because the employer will be wondering what have you been doing from 2002 to 2005?

    3. Fill gap years with important info:

      If the gap is too big to be hidden and can be justified in a way that can enforce your chances then by all means list it. Example:

      >> 2008 - 2010 Job Two
      >> 2004 -2007 Full Time Parent
      >> 2000-2003 Job One

      In this case, it would be too harsh to remove the first job since it comprises of three full years. Instead, you can explicitly mention what you have been doing during that time, which is taking care of your newborn baby. That tells a lot about how responsible and caring you are. It would definitely look better than this:

      >> 2008 - 2010 Job Two
      >> 2000 - 2003 Job One
    4. Use a functional resume instead of chronological one.

      If you have many gaps or one very long gap, a functional resume will suit you better.

  • 8. List Pending Education Degrees

    Do not miss a chance to credit yourself and boost your chances. If you are studying for a second major or upgrading your degree, talk about it. Example:

    >> BS in Mechanical Engineering, 2007 (Harvard University)
    >> MBA degree, expected graduation 2009 (Cambridge University)