Experienced at Sri Lanka Job Bank as a project coordinator, and running my own recruitment website and have been working in couple of leading software companies in Sri Lanka; I have been interviewing and reading lot of CVs mostly received from undergraduates and fresh graduates during last few years.
Have been in shoes of both job candidate and recruiting personnel, I can share some tips to prepare a standing out CV ensuring not get it stopped by the trash bin. Please note that this article contain only my personal opinions and it does carry any views of the organizations that I am working for.
The main purpose of a CV is to showcase your qualifications and skills catering to a specific job opportunity in the market. It’s a document to market your capability. In here, I have paid attention to 14 areas most commonly seen in a CV. I am taking them to discuss one by one but not in a particular order. You may have these sections in your CV according to the document design/layout you have chosen.
1. Your Name
Your name should be the heading of the entire document. In here, just use the name that you are using in your day-to-day life. Having the full name same as in your birth certificate is not necessary.
Including your photograph is an optional choice. If you want to include your photograph in your CV choose a professional looking photograph. A photograph of upper body with a smile or may be a photo taken during when you speak in a stage or a photo taken while you work are ideal choices. Please don’t choose mugshots taken for your identity cards or passports. 🙂
3. Career Summary
Share your career summary, vision and goals here. Make it personal, don’t copy and paste summaries you find in other CVs or in the internet. Don’t go much in details because there are other sections of your CV to explain details. Having few sentences to cover all those things is pretty much enough. Good grammar and spelling is a must!
Share your hard skills that is relevant for the position that you are applying for. Don’t put skills that is irrelevant to the position even though you are good with them. This is the point where you can convince the recruiter or HR personal that you are having a good understanding about the position that you are applying for. Adding few soft skill doesn’t do any harm only if you are really good at them. Putting rating for each skills is not necessary.
5. Contact Details
Mention essential contact information such as your mobile number, email address and city where you live. Mentioning the full postal address is not necessary here. Because nobody will write to your postal address at this stage.
Adding links to your social media profiles is not necessary but showcasing your online presence is advantageful sometimes. Be mindful to add relevant social links such as LinkedIn, Stackoverflow, Hackerrank or any other profiles reflecting your knowledge and skills.
Including links to your project portfolio, personal website, blog or links of your open source contributions such as Github will be a plus point definitely.
6. Personal Information
This is an optional choice to include in your CV. What we mean by personal information in here is details such as full name, birthday, NIC number, passport number, driving license number, nationality, marital status, etc. These information are not important at the early stage of recruitment.
7. Work Experience
Work experience section is to show your permanent, part-time or internship work experience. Make sure you have mentioned employer name, location, designation, period of work and duties and responsibilities (better in point format) of each experience. If your experience or learning outcome beneficial for the next position that you are applying for, explain your duties and responsibilities highlighting them.
If you have multiple experiences, include the most recent ones on the top. Don’t include any experience or position that is irrelevant to the position that you are applying for. Such information just distracts the person who will be reading your CV. Don’t write details about employers.
Education section is to show your educational qualifications. Similarly to the Work experience section make sure you have included each educational qualification (degree, diploma or examination), respective institute (university, institute or college) and period of study at each.
When you add multiple educational qualifications, order them by the time of achieve which bringing most recent qulifications on the top. If you have taken really good grades/marks for your certificates mention about them. Otherwise don’t mention marks or grades.
One of the most frequently asked questions is “Do I need to add schools in my CV?”. If you are a recent school leaver, adding about your schools is fine. But in the industries such as IT, they really don’t care about schools if the candidate already have earned a degree or any other higher education qualification.
To be honest we still have the tendency to judge people by their school. Because it reflects a person’s attitudes as well as the social class they have been exposed and grown up. Ugly, but true! So if you are from one of those reputed/branded schools, just mention about them and take the advantage. (just my personal opinion)
Use this section to provide information about project you have involved. Include each project name, description explaining what it is about, period of time and technologies (for technical projects). Don’t forget to sort your multiple projects according to the time period same as work and education information. There are different types of projects such as personal projects, academic group projects/individual projects, professional projects, etc. So don’t forget to mention project type and your contribution to each project. Providing links to get more details about each project is really useful for anybody who care about them.
Having a separated section for certifications section will bring additional credibility to your profile. There are mainly academic certifications and professional certifications. Keep this section for professional certifications because you have a separated education section to provide academic qualification details.
When you add certification details include crucial information such as certification name, organization, issued date and expiring date of each certificate.
Having a separate section to telling us about your academic or professional achievements is adding extra colour to your profile. This is section is not mandatory to have in your CV. Please don’t add achievements such as winning sports meet events which is irrelevant to your profession.
12. Hobbies and Interests
This is not a mandatory section to have. If your CV is not lengthy and have enough free space, then add this section to fill it up. 🙂 You can show human aspect of your life everybody would like to see about.
This also an optional part to include in your CV. You can add this section to fill gaps in your document. When you add languages (ie. English, Sinhala, Tamil) mention the level of proficiency of each language too.
Providing information of non-related referees is a subjective matter. Human resource department of some organizations looking for this information of candidates because checking with referees is a part of their recruitment process. Usually they tell about this in their vacancy advertisements. So you could provide referees information based on the requirement.
If you add referees section to your CV you have to add details of 2 non-related referees which is the standard way. Make sure you have mentioned their name, designation, organization and address including their contact information such as Email and telephone.
A CV is document that we use to market our qualifications and capabilities catering to a specific job opportunity in the market. There is no absolute right or wrong way to write it. You could personalize it. A good CV is always tailored to a specific position or job domain in the market. In other words, the target position or job could be apparent just by reading your CV. Researching and having a solid understanding about the job position would result a brilliant CV. A good CV has a good presentation of information in consistent manner maintained throughout the entire document. Even though discussing the presentation of information or the layout was not the main focus of this article, we paid attention to each areas of a CV discussing them with what are the do’s and don’ts need to be followed.