Get your CV on top of the pile

It’s time to write that winning resume. Here are some basic guidelines.

A poorly written curriculum vitae (CV), despite the glowing achievements it may contain, will almost certainly create a negative first impression on a potential employer. After all, your CV is the initial point of contact companies have for judging how well you present yourself. Here are some basic guidelines to create the best line of communication.

Watch your length

Keep it as short and relevant as possible. Your CV should be about one to two pages — the most, three pages if you are very experienced and need to list a large number of deals and accomplishments.

There is also no need for a photograph; in fact, many employers and recruitment firms are put off by them.

List personal information

Include your name, full address, telephone numbers (day/evening/mobile), email awddress, and date of birth. In the event of an interview opportunity, you want to be immediately contactable.

Order your content: Keep it concise; split your CV into sections such as personal information, qualifications, employment history, and interests, in that order. Include brief, one-line explanations for any gaps in the timeline on the CV; you do not want your CV to leave any unanswered questions. Do not assume that the person reading your CV will know what you did in a role based on your job title; always include a few bullet points detailing the tasks that you covered. It is your job to educate the reader by detailing specific tasks, responsibilities, and achievements for each of your previous positions.

Prioritize your past experience

Be specific about your responsibilities in each of your roles. For every position, outline your personal achievements and include the assignments you worked on and any profit and loss generated for the business. It is also important to state the geographical coverage of your job functions — for example, market risk in Indonesia. Business coverage, such as retail or investment banking, should be explicitly mentioned too — for example, Head of Operational Risk (Global Markets). If your position requires work on multiple products or segments, mention the percentage split of your work. Any relevant work experience overseas must be listed, even a six-month posting.

Include professional and academic qualifications

Employers also look at qualifications, and professional certifications should be included as well. Banking middle-office roles in Asia have a heavy focus on universal systems knowledge — for example, Visual Basic for applications, macros, and reporting platforms. Do not allow a short-term internship or a brief eight-month role to take up excessive space on your CV. These are the types of positions where you are allowed to be brief.

Remember your language skills

With increasing client-facing and shareholder management skills required in roles, it is an added advantage to mention your language abilities and the written and spoken level of fluency in each.

Concentrate on skills when applying for an overseas position

Focus on the technical elements of what you have accomplished instead of the deals and markets you have worked on, unless, of course, these particular experiences were based in the country of application. Technical skillsets tend to be transferable and non-specific when it comes to geography.

Limit personal interests

Including your interests is important, but do not generalise. For example, instead of simply listing “football” as an interest, you can expand and say that you have played for a local club for the last four years and are now the publicity officer for the committee. However, do not write more than one or two lines on your hobbies or attempt any humorous descriptions of your social activities. Remember that your CV is not a forum for your personality; it is a record of your professional experience.

Provide detailed references

Include references for your most recent five-year employment history, even if you have written references. It is essential that you supply sufficient information so that your recruitment consultant and potential employers can contact your references, regardless of whether they are living in the same country or overseas.

Double check and triple check

In addition to spotting any grammar or spelling mistakes, ensure that your CV is a clear representation of you. All information should be relevant and honest. Remember that any untruths on your CV, no matter how small, will be discovered eventually and will tarnish your credibility. The aim of your CV is to entice the potential employer to contact you and find out more. Get a friend to review it; even better, find someone within the same industry to review it too.

The author is Associate Director, Financial Services, Robert Walters, Hong Kong.

Excerpted from The CFA Institute, Career Guide India.

Any relevant work experience overseas must be listed, even a six-month posting.

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