Wednesday, May 5, 2010

CV - ¿more is less or less is more?

Now that the career day is drawing in, several classmates asked me to provide comments on their CVs. Having seen thousands of those in my professional life, I see that people are prone to make same mistakes over and over again: cramming as much information as possible into the limited space provided. Well, I am not entirely honest here. This is also market and culture dependent. In South Africa, for example, it is customary to have a cover sheet just indicating who the person is (or sometimes just saying "Curriculum Vitae") and then 5-10 pages filled with EVERYTHING that personal has been doing in their conscious life, nicely spaced and indented, but you just drown in the amount of information. In Europe and the US, if you are going over one page, that is most likely already too much, unless you have more than 6-8 years of professional experience.

Second point: if I am a professional recruiter, I deal with hundreds of resumes every day. If I am an HR in the Business, I might have much more important stuff to do than reading through pages and pages of other people´s accomplishments. Well, Dave Ulrich claims that talent attraction and selection is the most important HR activity possible, but let´s leave this debate for later. In any case, spending more than 30 seconds on a resume is a luxury I don´t have, so don´t make me angry and irritated either with numerous pages I have to go through or with blurred constellations of font 8 paragraphs, which numb my information intake instantaneously.

Third: as I have implied before, people who deals with many resumes professionally are highly irritable and prone to throwing paper products (or even more so, closing e-mail attachments) sooner than you can say "unemployment". So don´t risk your chances to get a phone interview (most you can hope for at the initial stage) by enraging them with spelling mistakes. Apart from you being unprofessional, it triggers something in their mind that sends a convulsive impulse to their wrist muscles - and there flies your inaply crafted written rendition of your academic and professional life into the trash.

There are numerous point (many of which are debatable!), but I believe the three mentioned about are a solid step forward. Among others are:
  • Age (I strongly believe it should not appear on the resume, but there are counterarguments too)
  • Marital status
  • Resume layout
  • Sequence of resume components
  • Personal interests
  • Special skills, languages and recognition, etc.

There are hundreds of books and reference materials available on the subject, most helpful probably is that one about the parachutes...

I am always happy to help those who need advice, so give me a shout, but bear in mind what I have mentioned, otherwise you are risking to get me into a fit, and that is highly undesirable.

1 comment:

  1. Just started working on Daniel Porot´s website ( - it is such a great resource for anyone who is looking for a job!



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