Write a #1 Winning CV

how to write a good cv / resume

Raghav, a school topper and college all-rounder, struggled to find a job after B.Com., while many of his less qualified friends raced ahead of him. Finally, he approached his uncle to be his mentor and help figure what’s been going wrong.

The first thing he was asked – “Show me your CV.” In seconds, the mystery unravelled. 

A couple of grammatical mistakes / spelling errors are enough for a recruiter to reject the candidate.

CV = First Impression

A CV is the initial point of contact for companies to judge you and how well you present yourself. A perfectly written, well-formatted CV stands out and catches the eye – impressing the recruiter beyond the points written there.

There are many instances where I have personally short-listed candidates for the relentless eye for detail and presentation skills demonstrated by him/her in the CV. 


#1 – Be Compact, Crisp, Precise

No CV should be beyond two pages. If you are just passing out of college, keep it to exactly one page. Only the more experienced candidates can fill up two pages of quality content.

Every word is worth its weight in gold!

#2 – Be Specific, not Flowery

No adjectives, no adverbs. Quantify or qualify every strong point you are trying to make.

“Contributed tremendously to the success of the company I worked for” means nothing. “Responsible for generating Rs. 13.5 lakhs of revenue” is far more impactful.

#3 – Ensure only relevant details are given

The recruiter wants to know about you, what you have done and proof of potential that you can do well in the role – that’s all.

No recruiter needs to know the names of your parents, details of your siblings, etc.

Make every second a recruiter spends on your CV count – most CV screenings happen in less than 1 minute. Make sure they read only what helps them decide to shortlist you.

Highlight the skills relevant to the role in question:

  • If it is a marketing role, highlight how you have been socially active, debating, selling, entrepreneurial, etc.
  • If it is a tech / research role, go deeper into your projects, papers and subjects.
  • If it is a creative role, share your blog, share some innovative ideas you implemented in the past, etc.

#4 – Sequence your sections

Different recruiters have different things they look for – some may look at academics, some at projects, some at positions of responsibility, etc. It’s your job to make sure they can jump into what they want to within one glance.

The easier you make it for recruiters, the happier they are!

Typical sections in a CV:

  • Qualifications
  • Work Experience & Internships
  • Other Achievements / Memberships / Extracurricular activities
  • Positions of Responsibilities
  • Any Awards / Prizes
  • Other interests / hobbies / passions
  • Personal / contact details

 #5 – References help

If you claim to have done some amazing work on a project, the recruiter would expect that your project mentor / guide can vouch for you. If you interned somewhere, your manager can vouch for you. Ensure that you balance high-profile references with those who actually like you and will personally guarantee for you. Do ensure that you tell your references that you are looking for a job and that they may be contacted by someone – so that they are prepared for such inquiries.

Remember, if you have not told your current employer that you are looking for openings outside and have given him/her as a reference, be prepared for shocks for all parties. So, simply don’t.

#6 – Ensure they can contact you

Give your name, email address & phone number where you will be reachable easily – use your headers and footers effectively for this.

Also, think through this properly:

a) No one wants to mail rockstardude.amit@gmail.com – get a more modest professional address – amit.verma15@gmail.com is much better.

b) Do not give a number where a recruiter has to struggle to reach you, such as a home number when no one will be at home during the day. Worse, don’t give the office number of your current job, please!

#7 – Check, Check, Check – then get someone else to check

No grammar / spelling mistakes. Install Grammarly or any checking tool to double and triple check. Further, ensure that your CV is a clear representation of you – relevant, honest and complete.

Get someone from the right background to review your CV and make sure it is perfect, before you send it out to recruiters. It’s best if your reviewer comes from a similar background as the recruiter.

Can’t find the right mentor to review your CV / advise you?

MentorYes offers the best-placed mentors who come from suitable recruiting levels to guide you from the perspective of the recruiter – for CV reviews and Career Planning.

To know more, visit www.mentoryes.com or write to us at info@mentoryes.com.

The author, Deepak Hariharan, is a Co-Founder of MentorYes, and has nearly a decade of experience in consulting and varied spaces.

To get personal mentorship from a suitable mentor, or from Deepak, click here.

(All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent MentorYes’s viewpoint or recommendations. Readers are advised to consider and evaluate the views presented here before implementing them in their preparation or otherwise.)
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