Ken Chan is associate director, Page Personnel Hong Kong.
How can I make my CV more attractive for employers?
I have been in my present accountancy job for five years and I am ready to move on to another company, hopefully to a more senior position. I would also like to make my CV “sing” a bit more.
My professional experience speaks for itself but I am more concerned about the extra things, such as interests and volunteer experience (I have worked as a volunteer with my church). What things do you think I should highlight and what sort of things should I leave out?
This is a good question and we have given advice to many candidates who have asked what should be included in their CV to maximise the chance of securing an interview. The answer is simple – as much as possible. However, the key here is to only include the relevant and eye-catching facts, not every single detail of your life.
For example, a number of candidates in Hong Kong want to include their public exam results. However, if you already have three years or more of working experience and your grades are not exceptional, you only need to list your college and university education and leave out the details. The employer will ask for your academic certificates if required.
The key information will always be your working experience, qualifications and achievements throughout your career. It should be the main dish of your résumé, but alter the starter and dessert courses to address the specific role you are applying for.
Never use one version of your CV to apply for every job. The most important thing these days is that your CV directly answers the job description, or what the hiring manager is looking for. The best idea is to think of each high-priority job description as providing you with a set of must-haves that you should attempt to tick off through your CV.
The tone of your résumé should be enthusiastic, upbeat and professional. Put your strongest and most relevant points first, using action words such as “completed”, ”developed” and ”managed”, and superlatives such as “first”, “best” and “highest”. Presenting your accomplishments confidently, using high-impact words, is a key component in how to make a résumé compelling for the person reading it.
To specifically answer your question, you should include your interests and volunteer experience on your CV as long as it adds value and relevance to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying to be an accountant with a sports brand, your experience or interest as a rugby player or in team sports will be an advantage. Likewise, if you are aware the organisation has strong CSR commitments, your volunteer experience will give you the edge over other accountants.
Think about keeping your résumé clear and well structured as well. Ideally, it should be kept to between two and three pages long. Always remember that a major aspect of career success comes down to personality. What is it about you as a person that people appreciate in a working context? Think about group projects you have been in and what did you bring to this project that contributed to its success?
Ultimately, the answer will speak to your value as an employee.