Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to create effective CVs?

In July 1999, I went to the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, for a week long course on Effective Communication, where I learned how to write effective letters of recommendation and resumes.

I would like to focus on How to write effective resumes/CVs? in this post.

A resume comes in a variety of formats and it is usually known as a CV these days. A long time ago, in India, they used to be known as 'biodatas'. The biodata was a strange format by Western standards and looks pretty quaint by Indian urban standards now. However, I am sure it is still prevalent in rural Indian settings. The biodata included diverse data such as the person's name, father's name, weight, height, 'sex', date of birth (why on earth!) and it included every possible educational qualification, including what you did at High School.

I am really happy that the biodata has become completely redundant in our age. It was an atrocious format.

These days, we are in an age of CVs and resumes. For those with an international perspective, we are into specifics such as the European CV format.

CVs usually include an objective. However, these days, even objectives are no longer required. Out go the details about date of birth etc and if personal details are required, they are kept to the bare minimum and only mentioned under the head 'personal details' toward the end of the CV. In the earlier biodata format, the details were written from the earliest to the latest. Now, the focus is on the latest to the earliest, which makes a lot of sense.

The European CV format also wants you to understand your core competencies and state them, which is even better.

If you master the format but you do not know what you must write in it, then you must count as a failure. The first thing to understand is that you never have one CV to fit all occasions. If you make a generic CV to fit all jobs, then you are committing harakiri, suicide for Japanese. Please do not do something reckless. Every job, every professional situation, would need a CV that caters to the specific situation.

So, now, we know that we must write CVs that fit different jobs. Good. What else?

The next thing is to ensure that we describe ourselves in proper terms. We should use words and verbs which are positive in nature and that denote action. No company would like to hire people who sound defensive, morose, jealous, insecure or average. Please do keep in mind that every company is likely to receive thousands of CVs and the only way your CV would elicit a reply is when it stands out.

My CV always gets me excellent responses. About fifteen months ago, I was offered a job (with a pretty high salary) by a very reputed international company (without applying for it) based on the strength of my professional work and my CV. I turned it down, even though it is rare to be offered a job without applying for it, because of certain social reasons. I have no regrets about it.

If you would like to look at examples of good CVs, do let me know. Or if you would like me to look at your CVs and give you some suggestions, you can always mail them over to me and I'll do my best for you. If you want, I might even be able to ask other people in my professional network to help out.