Career Forum Oct 2015: Help is at hand for getting your CV into shape
Little relevance to the job description, spelling and grammar errors, and vague information are some of the most common mistakes jobseekers make when sending out their CVs, says Alan Wong, managing director of Kelly Services Hong Kong, which will be providing a CV doctor service at the Career Forum.
Wordiness and even false information are also frequent bugbears for those reviewing resumes, Wong adds. “Integrity is key, especially for multinationals and big conglomerates. False information such as covering up gaps in employment history is unnecessary as these can be explained during the interview process.”
Jobseekers should also note that recruitment agencies and employers usually check the finer details of CVs, such as time spent in a position.
“After the candidate is shortlisted – and definitely before they are hired – the company will call up previous employers to cross-check the accuracy of previous salary and employment duration. We have encountered employers who have actually fired staff after a year of employment simply because they later found out there was false information in the CV that was submitted at the hiring stage. Ultimately, integrity is key.”
Most employers spend no more than two to three minutes reading a resume, so clarity and accuracy are also essential.
“The length of the CV varies depending on the industry and company culture. Normally US firms prefer concise CVs of one or two pages, regardless of the candidate’s seniority. For some very specialised and technical positions, such as a senior medical doctor, candidates may include more details of projects completed and even attach the journals they have written.”
To emphasise achievements, Wong recommends candidates structure their resume under “previous experiences” and begin sentences with action-oriented verbs.
“Avoid using words such as ‘I’ and ‘me’. Direct and simple phrases such as ‘Received an Employee of the Month Award’ are more appropriate.”
Wong suggests listing skills and achievements first, followed by previous positions. “Rather than having a ‘work experience’ section, consider using functional sections that highlight skills. For example, under ‘experience’ you might want to put a subhead of ‘strategic marketing’ or ‘leadership and talent management’, then list your significant accomplishments in those areas.”
As for referees, Wong says simply writing “References available upon request” will suffice. “However, if the referee is an authority in a related field, or a senior manager of an aspiring brand that gives weight, you may want to list the name, title and organisation under ‘Referee’.”
Those with little work experience should highlight skills and experience they have that are pertinent to the job for which they are applying.
“If you are a recent graduate with a high grade point average or degree from a distinguished university, list this information near the top of your CV,” Wong says.