Over the years, I’ve helped many people prepare their CVs but while I don’t claim to be a CV-writing expert and I can’t guarantee you’ll get the job you want, I believe the following tips may be of some help:
- I notice a lot of CVs start with a job objective like “To secure a position in the IT department of a major international bank.” I suggest you forget about that. No one cares a shit about what your job objective is. Companies out there in the world are not there to meet your job objectives. Companies out there in the world are looking for talent, for someone who can do the job they want done.
- Instead, after your name, (which should be in bold and centralized), the first line of your CV should contain a one-sentence description of yourself. This soundbitey, elevator-pitch type statement is where you encapsulate in as succinct a manner as you possibly can, who you are and explain what you are capable of doing. Here’s an example: “Highly driven award-winning copy writer known for creative flair, analytical as well as superlative client-understanding skills; have lived and worked internationally; eminently qualified with a BA in Fine Arts from a prominent university.” (Don’t mention which university, as it will prompt the reader to want to read on.)
- Next, list your current position, as in “2010 – present: Chief Copy writer, Bright, Goofy & Raw International, a world renowned advertising agency managing the global accounts of organizations such as The Priestly Thrust, ClodAir, Lohthario & Lohviathan Associates, Global Bailout Bank, and UNCOCR (United Nations Commission On Chicken Rights), amongst others.” Ok, I made those names up but my point is, this is the part of your CV where you state the year of your tenure, your current position, and a quick one-liner on the organization you are with. People do attach some significance to the company you work with. If you are in charge of food courts, even a title like “Intergalactic Senior Vice President of Business Development, Asia Pacific” is not going to impress anyone. Sorry, nothing wrong working with, in or for food courts, but that’s life, ok. Deal with it.
- After that, you state your achievements in this job. For example: “After analyzing and determining client needs to address market perception and to increase mind and walletshare, I created copy for ClodAir, which was used in several advertising media (print, TV, etc) throughout the world in an aggressive, 12-month global blitz. The outcome of the campaign, according to audited findings, has resulted in successfully increasing bookings of ClodAir flights by at least a hundredfold. This assignment also won me the Pan Asian Advertising New Talent of the Century recognition in 2012; the award is equivalent to an Oscar in the advertising industry.”
- Do that for your last three jobs. List tenure, title, one-liner on the company, and your achievements there. (Pepper your CV with positive action words and phrases.) There is no need to list a whole chronological order of all the jobs you have held in your entire frigging life. We’re not asking you to write your life history for goodness sake! And no one really wants to know that you were once a temporary odd job laborer at Sheng Siong or a urinal scrubber at Mustafa when you were working during your high school vacation to earn some extra pocket money so you could visit paid porn sites.
- Your educational details come next: List highest qualification, next highest, etc. No need to mention secondary or primary school, unless you went to Raffles or Hwa Chong. (60% of those awarded the prestigious Public Service Commission scholarship attended these two schools, so I guess a bit of bragging is fine.) Anyway, feel free to highlight academic achievements or awards – summa cum laude, etc – if any, and list activities that attest to your leadership capability.
- You may also wish to have a section entitled COMPETENCIES where you showcase skills that are deemed exceptional – for example, “Able to operate professional Arri Alexa and Red Epic movie-making cameras and have produced my own amateur movies, viewable at YouTube.” (Provide the URLs here.) List competencies that are truly exceptional. You can cook Italian food? Well, those idiots are a dime a dozen! You are a lounge pianist? Ditto. Don’t bother listing such nonsense.
- Some people mention hobbies. I don’t find that relevant. It only lengthens your CV considerably. And nobody cares if you are a member of the National Geographic Society. Any clown who subscribes to the magazine is a member, what’s the big fucking deal? And if your hobby is cigar smoking, macho and unusual and expensive as it may be, if a recruiter who’s an anti-smoking Nazi comes across your CV, your CV is going to end up in the trash bin. Game over. If you are a dog lover, a dog hater may not want to talk to you. If you dabble in Feng Shui or crystal healing or past-life regression or aromatherapy or hypnosis listing all these will get your CV incinerated if the recruiter thinks Feng Shui or crystal healing or past-life regression or aromatherapy or hypnosis and other such hocus-pocus are nothing but a huge crock of crap. Know what I mean? Bottom line: don’t provide reasons for people to trash your CV. Providing a list of hobbies makes you vulnerable. Highlighting your religion (see 9 below) exposes you to the same vulnerability, so don’t declare what your religion is.
- Your contact details come next, together with your language proficiency. If you are thinking of including a photo, best to first ask around if attaching a photo contravenes the equal opportunity act. If you are going ahead with it use a passport-size one in color, at the upper right corner of your CV on page one. Understand there’s a risk there – some of those retards working in HR hire people on the basis of how they look and if you are just an average Joe, (meaning like me, ie ugly like fuck) and not a top-shelf kind of good looker, these HR retards may just discard your CV, but then again, if you have formatted the CV the way I am suggesting, it is likely that it will be read till the very end even if you look like a piece of turd. Note: if you, however, look like a movie star, sure, go ahead but make sure you look like your photo when you show up for the interview. Don’t use a photo taken when you were 17 and weighed a hundred pounds less then. Also: Photoshop may remove double or triple chins and add lots of hair to your balding pate but when you show up, what you see is what you get, baby. So go easy with the photo thing and use a recent one. Don’t give your interviewer a heart attack. A dead recruiter can’t hire you. And talking about heart attacks, try to use a font that’s easy on the eye, like Lucida Sans.
- No need to say anything about salary expectations. No need to state age even or if you are married, divorced, living in sin or in a homosexual relationship or married to an overweight walrus or whatever. In fact it is illegal for any interviewer to ask you any of that. If you are responding to an ad requiring you to state salary expectations, just say in your cover letter that salary is negotiable, job-fit and job-satisfaction and your ability to hit the road running and contribute from day one are more important elements. If the ad requests you to state your current salary – annualize it, after including fixed and variable bonuses – and provide a range. Say something like “My current annual remuneration is in the neighborhood of S$200,000/- but I am flexible with salary as I believe that job-fit and job-satisfaction and my ability to hit the road running and start contributing from day one are more critical factors to take into consideration. I look forward to a meaningful discussion with you on these topics and will contact your secretary in the next three days to schedule an appointment for you to interview me.”
That’s it. What remains for me to do now is only one thing – and that is to wish you good luck!