Building a CV That Gets You The Job

During several career guidance sessions and workshops, there have always been questions from the participants regarding the CVs and how to write a good one.

The contextual nature of our job market has shown its desires towards using professionals in more than one job but under one title. This results in people giving a wrong depiction of what they really do and they tend to fail in getting shortlisted or are flunked in the interviews.

Key Questions:

Coming back to the track, it has always been a up-and-coming question from students and professionals alike that if CVs are the main reason to open that door for the opportunities, then what can be the right CV and above all how to write a kick ass CV in the first place, and in case if the CV is already written then what to and not to include in it?

While creating the CV, questions like these are sometimes mind boggling;

  • What should come first?
  • What should come in the middle and how to end it?
  • Should we pad it to look thick, or keep it on one page?
  • What formats to be used?
  • Should there be an objective?
  • What about references?
  • What about career stories?

One Key For Many Doors:

Then it’s the domain problem; in my opinion, if you encompass your experience and interests in multiple professional domains then you should maintain different versions of your CV.

Secondly there is that concealed perspective at the receiving end, because they the HR, usually have their own opinion about the CVs they are short listing. This is something you can never guess completely, as HR departments have their own set of principals and talent thresholds. In bigger setups such as Multi-nationals and banking the HR department holds a lot of stake at their end. So, you need to make sure that your CV reflects what the posted job is demanding.

On your part, as a human being who is seeking new opportunities, that desperation part always kicks in somewhere. Deep down inside, there is always that unseen urge of not to miss anything and impress the interviewer with your stories, but the thing is that we cannot write everything on our resume and have to be dependent on the questions coming from the interviewer and let’s admit it, some of your own luck.

Are We Doing It Right?

In so many words, the more you ask for opinions, the worse it will get! You know how I know that? Well, I have been around in the professional scene since 1993, and surely I have applied for numerous jobs and have also been part of the interview process on both sides.

Definitely like everyone else, I have also constructed a number of CVs, representing me and my professional experience. These CVs are constructed as PowerPoint Presentations, simple documents, my Meyer Briggs Type Indicator docket, and an extract from the LinkedIn profile.

Coming to the latter part (the LinkedIn Profile), I edited it and rearrange the profile in form of two CVs. One represents me as a Software Tester and other as a Process Re-Engineering and Business Analysis professional.

It went well for a number of applications I posted and even got a few interview calls. I even have a one page CV which I sent usually to people who wish to know me in a summarized form. But then, this you only get to know when you know they want a one page CV.

When Reality Strikes:

Recently, in the midst of all that something happened, which made me realize that everything I have been doing regarding my CVs was actually starting off the dance on the wrong foot.

Why? Because in the previous couple of Interviews, I was told bluntly by the HR “Your CV is too detailed, and we tend to get lost in it every time we try to find your experience, education and what project you did!”

It was a real surprise for me, because as per my perspective, everything in my CV was labeled and organized with tables and headings, but due to its details and too much information, the thing was not working out.

For HR person who shortlisted the CV it was okay, as they realize that the guy has good experience, but at the core level of detailed interviewing, it was not depicting me as I intended.  The Question was; what to do? I got the answer lately;

A New Approach:

Not too long ago, my father, who is in Quality Assurance business as well, gave me a write-up on a couple of pages, which was actually hand written (we don’t see that often now do we?) and he asked me to type it on a word processor and email back to him. I realized from the few lines, that it was actually his CV.

What I realized in realism that it was not just 2 pages, but a very cleverly written Resume’ encompassing his 40 years of experience. This is what he did:

He divided the resume into 4 sections:

  • Personal Information
  • Project Experience
  • Product Experience
  • Educational Experience

Use Keywords and Annexure:

The personal information section was as similar as we all write; whereas the rest of the CV was constructed with three to four line paragraphs, where there was an intro to the section followed by a keyword text, so the people would immediately grasp the technicalities and references.

The key factor was that the details were not generalized. Then each section directs the reader to a certain “Annexure” reference where the detail of each part was presented alongside dates, timelines and further references.


Example of an Annexure

With this simple restructuring technique you can customize your career annexures as per your expertise and send these as per the requirements of the posted jobs. For example, your “Business Analysis Experience” is depicted on the main section in simple three to four keyword oriented lines and is referenced further in Annexure A, so if HR wishes to see that in detail, they can see it in the attached annexure. This way, your CV can never be out of proportion and span several pages. If the reader wishes to go in detail, they will read the annexures, just like we do in books and reports.

Short, Simple Yet Detailed:

Regretfully, there are still several employers who still print the CV on paper and then have them placed at the time of the interview, while marking the CV with their points. But that should not worry you, as they will do that on header section and see the annexure for the detailed descriptions.

For experienced professionals, it is an excellent way of documenting their career journeys. Why? Because you can send that whole bunch to the HR department without getting hesitant, as the first two pages are the version everyone wants; short, sweet and simple, yet complete representation of your career with a referenced time line.


Short and Simple Does It

For the detail section, whoever wants to read more will go to the annexure part and read, otherwise will stick to the shorter version.

The only thing is to write everything cleverly without being generic, and reflect them with your expertise, roles, projects, product, technical details, tools expertise, your executive modus operandi, certifications, educational achievements and awards.

Please note that this is based on my own context and experience, you can have your suggestions for the guidance of readers in the comment section, and if you like these ideas then why not give them a try?

  • Very nice post Mr. Arslan Ali. The annexure technique is indeed a very good way to give all the details without making the cv boring.

  • Its seems a great approach and everyone must give it a try at least for some applications as a test case. Adding to that, employer’s perspective also matters. I think many (local) employers would still find it a bit strange if you send them a 4-5 page document in response of a job vacancy. Overall its a new idea. I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  • well its a nice write but i think detailed Resume works better in engineering profession , just a thought

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