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10 Common Sense yet confusing questions regarding CV / Resume

Rohit Jain  
on 08 October 2014

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A cv or resume is the most important document that will help you to get the best job offers. While many are strong and sound on academic and presentation front, still they feel confused when it comes to CV and resume. Questions of myriad type arise in the mind of students , even on the basic things. There is nothing wrong in this. Many have started resume making services and are earning quite nicely. Is resume writing that much complicated. Its really complicated. There are hundreds of opinions, formats etc. 

I therefore thought it better to write some common yet confusing questions regarding CV. There is nothing new in this. Therefore this article is only for those who do not know. Those who know it won't find this , as interesting 
 

Is a photograph on a resume / CV a must?

This is the first question that often arises in the mind of a person while submitting a CV through mail or by hand etc. Those who are seasoned employees know this and therefore this question caters to only those who are novice. Generally a photograph is not required when you submit your resume to sites like Naukri.com or any such portal. However when you are sending your CV to a government department (government departments need printed form for job applications) and the specific format is not given it is really better that we submit the CV along with a photograph. Generally it is observed that if you are applying for a job that requires or has emphasis upon personal interaction, then in such instances, a cv with a photograph will be beneficial. Therefore ideally, as a matter of privacy or unless specifically demanded a photograph on online CVs is not required. However when you apply directly through mail or send application by post (our government is still in archaic times), it is a necessity that you submit your photograph also.

Of what exact length should a resume be?

This is the second most common question. What should be the length of CV. Too short and we fear that we are missing out on certain details and if too long, that becomes prosaic. What exactly should be the length of one’s CV. The answer is, strictly one page. The answer is this plain and simple because anything longer than this will make the recruiter feel dizzy. A recruiter especially of a large company has to see hundreds of resumes and therefore he cannot spend his time seeing CVs which are detailed like a bill of materials. Therefore when preparing a rough CV, take care that you are neither too long, neither too short. Whatever extra things you want to convey, you can convey them through a ‘statement of purpose’ or a ‘cover letter’. Therefore strictly adhering to these norms will bring out a good CV.

Which format is the best format for a CV? Should your CV be too much tabular?

There are thousands of CV templates available on the internet. Some are plain Jane, some are little bit diagrammatic and some are painstakingly tabular. There are many people who fancy fonts, tables, grids, bullets etc. in a CV. Yes, tabulation is soothing to the eye, but too much reliance on tables in the CV makes it messy and eye soaring. A plain text CV is the best option in my view. The concentration should be more on text formatting and no other element. Minimal margins, a specific text size, specific spacing and highlighting in a different form will be the simplest yet effective format for drafting of CV.

To what extent does styling and formatting of a cv affect the chances of being shortlisted for a job?

The answer to this can be quite controversial and is highly subjective. Generally when pressed for an opinion, HR people emphasize on preferring properly formatted CVs. However that does not mean that they will select only based on this factor. Therefore 70 % weight will still be on the content or qualification, but some weightage is also given to the styling and formatting of a CV.

Do Social achievements / extracurricular activities have any importance in a CV?

What is the social responsibility of a professional like us, one may ask. One might say that many companies have their records littered with bad corporate governance and therefore how can they ask or demand social achievements from candidates. This reasoning is right from our side. However, since we are general and not special, this type of reasoning should be kept at its right place. I happened to see a profile of a very prominent person on LinkedIn. That profile was what struck me. Therein, equal emphasis was given to social and curricular achievements apart from professional experience. The social emphasis was on the social events that the person helped to conduct, the classes/seminars/events that the person undertook for social upheaval of the poor etc. Since that person was on a very senior level, it will be very wrong to assume that he is exaggerating. Therefore if you’ve participated in any social event (not college event), it’s better to emphasize on it as strongly as other points in a CV.

I have too many qualifications? Which ones need emphasis? To what extent older qualifications should be highlighted in a CV?

I happened to read a CV writing guide on a foreign university career cell. The opinion in that guide was that you should not give much preference to qualifications older than 5 or 7 years (unless it’s your last qualification). So let us assume that you are CA/CS/ICWA. There, your SSC and HSC/CBSE marks should be expressed in maximum one or two lines. Whatever space you save on it can be used to throw light on specific modules / specializations that you underwent in your professional qualification. For eg , if you are a qualified CA, then you can , in short describe the various verticals that you studied in your articles.

If you want to prevent missing out on some facts you can attach a SOP with your mail in the CV.

Many sites offer a chance to post video CVs. Those confident and presentable enough can utilize this style also. IF there are some sites that allow posting videos that demand access key , you can find such sites , post your video there and provide temp access key to the recruiter (I don’t know any site like this, if you know please suggest)

Are there any special Methods / Styles or Is there any special type of approach needed when applying for a government job?

Everyone has attraction for government jobs and there is nothing wrong in that.  While applying for a government job, that requires application in specific format, take care that you also send a covering letter along with that format. A covering letter gives you a chance to express those things that you cannot express in your normal CV. Therefore a neatly typed cover letter (or hand written if you are sending too many job applications) will add that extra layer of professionalism in you. Government staff is lazy, but when it comes to direct recruitment, they are very strict.

Should there be a specific type for a CV for specific type of job application?

Job sites encourage you to post more than one CV. Since most of the readers here are CAs and CWAs who can apply for jobs of various types, chances are that you require more than one CV. Someone might be interested to directly apply for a Finance post while someone might be interested in research (recently the research wing of icai had posted job openings for its accounting research foundation, a section 25 company. Many newly qualified CAs might be interested in this type of jobs also). So it is advisable for designing 2-3 sector specific CVs. Job portals have a facility of choosing a particular cv from the bunch of uploaded CVs when applying for a job. Therefore, sector specific CVs are a good idea.

Will sugar coating or hiding of facts be beneficial for me ?

No…. Sugar coating or hyperbolic statements might tar your image if you are caught in verification. If there is a certain gap in education or employment, don’t hide it but be ready with sufficient reasons for describing them.

These are some of the many questions that arise in the mind of every person in his educational and professional life.

That’s it for now.

Disclaimer

[I believe in the supreme court doctrine of 'if you do not like it , do not see it'.....Please dont waste your precious time commenting if you find this article irrelevant. There are more things that you can do. Based upon my experience on this site , i am giving this disclaimer]

- Rohit jain

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