The following article was written by Monroe Consulting Group for the Jakarta Globe Supplement "You're Hired!"
How to write a great CV
A professionally constructed CV is vital in any search for a new job. Though it will not gaurantee that you fill the position, if it is written well it can be the difference between securing an interview or having your application relegated to the bottom of a large pile of competing resumes.
Typically in Indonesia, any advertised position will receive between 100 and 250 applications, many of which are from hugely under-qualified candidates who adopt the “you never know la” approach to applying for jobs. With your CV being one of many, it is extremely important that it is structured clearly, with your main selling points presented in a logical manner and the most relevant information readily identifiable.
Everybody writes and presents their CV as they like; there is no right or wrong way. However, with these sage words of advice, will help you produce a clear and concise CV that will sharply increase your chances of being invited for that desired interview.
Good CVs are logical, clear, concise and simple with sentences including short, to-the-point key words and statements. It is best to leave out words such as ‘and’ and 'I' as much as possible and make each sentence as meaningful as possible. An effective CV needs to focus the readers's attention on the criteria that they are looking for, highlighting important information that can be accessed and interpreted easily. Try to match yourself with the criteria they are looking for.
You may also be asked to justify and elaborate on certain statements that you have made in your CV if you are invited to that interview, so you should be honest and accurate throughout. Be careful not to over-exaggerate but always remain positive. Accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar are vital, as well as the overall layout and format of the document.
Structure & Presentation
First impressions are vital! Each section needs to be headed clearly so that it is well presented, orderly and pleasing to look at in order to encourage the reader to continue. Your skills, experience and achievements must flow in a logical manner detailing all the key points. Any dates should be included where applicable and placed in reverse chronological order, that is with the latest job first, working backwards to your first position. TWO OR THREE pages is the standard length of a good CV. DO NOT let your resume run any longer than an absolute maximum of four pages – anthing longer is almost always viewed as wasteful and instantly discarded.
Once a layout and structure is decided upon, you should stick to it using consistent headings and subheadings as well as a STANDARD FONT SIZE and TYPE. In general, Verdanna or Arial (or a modern type face) and size in the 9/10 range is the norm but the use of bold or different size fonts can highlight important information and point the reader to the relevant areas. All text should be fully justified so the paragraphs look neat and tidy and there should be a balance between text and space. Bullet points are useful to break up text; black lines can be used to emphasize headings.
Personal Details to Include
Include name, date of birth, your address, home and mobile telephone numbers, email address, nationality and marital status but feel free to leave out other information, such as weight, height and religion.
Education & Qualifications
With dates when you attended on the left-hand side, list your former schools/universities, the full title of your qualifications and any significant examination results.
Professional Qualifications & Courses
This should include any RECENT and RELEVANT courses you have undertaken or qualifications you have achieved. Do not list anything that is not germane to the job you are applying for, or something that is very out of date.
On the left hand side, list the dates that you worked for a particular company, including the months that you started and finished. Then list the company you worked for and the job title you had UNDERNEATH the company name. You should then write a brief description of what the company does (do not assume that people are aware of the company you were or are working for) and include a link to their Web site. Underneath this you should then present your job duties in ‘bullet’ form: that is, in short, clear, logical sentences, one after the other, remembering to remain relevant. Use positive and clear language to highlight your responsibilities and achievements at the company, backing everything up with quantifiable facts, such as the size of your budgets and results achieved, to make your skills tangible.
Under each job you should then list your achievements. Think carefully about which examples you include in this section, as employers may deduce a lot from your choices about your motivations and what you regard as important.
This section on hobbies and interests should be kept short and include such information as positions of responsibility in sports teams, drama societies and so forth. Any information should have a purpose, showing skills relevant to the role you are applying for and saying something of interest about you.
Unless requested, references need not be given at the initial application stage and a simple "references available on request" should suffice. Employers will ask for references if and when they need them.
Key Words: All Web-based job boards and a number of companies will use software to search through large volumes of CVs. This software works by counting the number of times key words appear in a CV and ranking resumes that contain the most key words at the top of the list. Be sure to include relevant key words that match the position you are looking for in your CV.
Red Flags: Employers looking at CVs on a regular basis are well trained in spotting warning signs in a CV, otherwise known as “red flags.” Do not try and cover up gaps in your career or high job movement activity, instead acknowledge them and provide logical explanations for them.
Be Clear: Because of the large number of applications in Indonesia, most organisations will use software or a junior member of the team to perform an initial screening of applications. The screener is typically given a “tick box” list of what the CV must contain to pass on to the hiring manager. To make sure your CV reaches the right person, spend time ensuring the requirements of the job you are applying for are highlighted prominantly on your CV, preferably near the top.