By the SMU Social Media Team
Fun fact: employers only take an average of to look through each person’s CV so your mission is to capture the attention of your reader for just that much longer and get your foot through the door.
We all know by now how crucial your CV is because it forms the first impression of you in employers’ minds. There are some do’s and don’ts of CV-creation that we’ve all heard before from professors or seniors, but contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a hard and fast rule to what your CV should entail.
The modern Curriculum Vitae goes beyond a simple list of your accomplishments. It provides insight into your creativity and ability to get the job done. In short, trash that essay-like entry on an internship you had three years ago and yawn-inducing list of primary school achievements. Keep it succinct to get to what truly matters: You.
Organising Your CV
Remember that the first three-quarters of the page is where a recruiter’s eyes will naturally fall, so place the most important information there. But, should you list your job experience or education first? In truth, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all structure – rather it all depends on what is your hottest selling point as a potential candidate.
For example, if you have some years of working experience under your belt, job experience would likely be a key selling point and placed before education. Likewise, if you’ve done an internship at a top firm and have a stellar reference to show for it, your experience section should be prioritised.
On the flip side, if you are a fresh grad with a less-than-exciting internship or work experience, your education or trainings might be your best selling points. Furthermore, for some roles, your skills, certifications and education may be key, in which case, you should highlight them instead.
Unless it’s pertinent to the job you are applying for, It’s best to exclude odd jobs such as waitressing/promoting and the like because these are not the best experience-givers when it comes to a professional career. Instead, include your professional internships and any field-related contract jobs that you might have taken up during the holidays. Relevant experience is what employers look for in potential hires so ensure that your past experience descriptions nail exactly what your desired job requires.
Remember the 6-second-scan fact we mentioned earlier? When reviewing a candidate’s experience, recruiters typically scan through, looking for keywords that match the job requirements. Don’t crowd your CV with lengthy paragraphs – use bullet points and keywords to your advantage and show that you fit the bill at-a-glance!
Results and Achievements
One common mistake is when graduates place too much emphasis on their PSLE results and secondary school achievements. These results are borderline unnecessary unless an employer indicates otherwise because the fact that you are an undergrad or graduate indicates that you possess a decent foundation in primary and secondary education. An indication of A-level or Polytechnic results, and current university GPA, usually suffices.
As for achievements, it is useful to list any significant achievement you’ve attained throughout your years of education. Try to highlight more recognisable milestones such as scholarships or that international business case competition win because they set the impression that you’re a high performer. Side achievements such as CCA contributory roles could be useful too, but these will need to come after the more important awards.
Skills and Miscellaneous
Unlike in the past when proficiency in Microsoft Office was still a note-worthy skill, adding that into your CV hardly turns heads in today’s world. State the most useful and modern skill that is relatable to the job that you are gunning for. For example, a job such as marketing associate would require skills such as social media marketing, digital advertising et cetera. These skills will stand out in the employers’ eyes because the training curve for whom they hire would be much gentler.
Lastly, list your Linkedin account under a “Miscellaneous” category because as much as you want to know who your employer is going to be, the employers would like the find out who you are before securing you with an interview. In cases where skills such as copywriting, photography, or social media management are pertinent to the role, you may even want to highlight your blog site, Instagram gallery or Facebook page. But do check that albums of wild nights out or potentially offensive posts are removed or risk an offer being rescinded.
Finally, ensure that your CV is short, confined within two A4-sized pages, and gets straight to the point. The best CV tailors to the job description so make sure you read through the job description carefully and tweak your CV to suit what the employer wants. Always make the most out of your experience and skills and always ask yourself “would I get bored reading through my own CV?” before sending it out.
All the best, job hunters!