December 18, 2007

Strategies for CV / Resume - top 5 do's and don'ts

My last post on Tips and tools to make an effective CV / Resume has been receiving a fair amount of hits and strangely enough, these (Number 1)  phrases (1st page) are (page 1) high on Google already - given the plethora of articles on resume writing. Odd. Clearly, writing an effective, well written CV / Resume is of great interest to people given the way the searches originate.

In this post, I'll cover some of the strategies on writing effective CV (Curriculum Vitae) / Resumes - and more importantly, what to be careful about so you're not wasting massive amounts of time writing what amounts to be a pretty confused, useless Resume. Of course, these are my view points and there is a level of subjectivity attached to it. Choose what works best for you.

The audience - professionals (engineers, designers, consultants, MBAs. I have no clue about doctors, nuclear scientists, assassins etc.)

My top 5 Do's and don't s (though not in any order of importance)

  1. Get your resume screened or reviewed by someone in the target sector and type of function you are targeting. If you are an engineer aiming to get into Banking, show your CV to a banker friend and not another engineer who might nod and say "it all looks great."
  2. Don't add objectives if you don't know what your objective really is. My personal take is that writing "My objective is to be a high performing part of your organization and use my skills to the fullest extent" is a waste of someone's brain cells and might make them a few notches dumber for the next 2 hours. I've read many such objectives in my career too - and they said nothing useful. Focused objectives, if that is what you want (at the risk of getting your Resume rejected because so such positions exist), can be useful. On the other hand, comprehensive summaries like " Over 4 years of experience in network engineering with high expertise in ABCD, EFGH, IJKL. Consistently among top 10% rated employees and top ranker in University..." could be a lot more effective in catching the eye of a manager. On a side note, that summary wasn't about me.
  3. Attention span of the reader is inversely proportional to length of resume (subject to floor length of 1 page). 'Nuff said. Keep it short and to the point.
  4. Over-reviewing -  Avoid the temptation of getting your CV reviewed 3,467 times. The review effectiveness graph, in my experience, is something like this - there is a sharp value add for the first 3-4 reviews, then - for the next 2-3 reviews you reach a refinement stage. Beyond 8 reviews (or thereof) there is a drop-off in value. The issue with too many reviews is that after a while, you begin to get very conflicting, often confusing view points. It will never be perfect - so once you feel the CV has improved substantially compared to the older one, stop.
  5. Always think from the view point of the hiring manager / recruiter - it's kind of easy getting carried away by our own virtues and brilliance and write eloquent prose while forgetting that the reader might as well get flogged on his/her bare bottom with a whip than read our resume. Short sentences. Numbers. No self-aggrandizing prose. Action. Results.
My Resume / CV won't get me a job, so I don't want to confuse the resume to be a "cool! this'll get me my job!" - it's only a way to get past that first person.

On a side note - we ended our P2 INSEAD MBA exams today, it's such a relief. It's been an incredibly hectic term that ended with some humbling exams - wait, I'll called "nuke-me-down" exams. I'm headed home tomorrow for a fine week or so of relaxation. Really looking forward to it, and here's happy holidays, Christmas,  new years to all the readers!


Anonymous said...


Just got an admit from INSEAD. Could you please let me know your contact id where I can email you about some questions I have?


V said...

Hi Necro, have gone a lot through your blog.. as an applicant for INSEAD, will you recommend to go for jan intake rather than sept intake (cos of summer internships) ? Sept falls more in line with my plans, but will like to know your views before applying.



necromonger said...


necromonger at gmail dot com