Long before I became the successful career woman I am today (well, I’m not an unsuccessful career woman, so ‘successful’ isn’t too far off, no? ^^), I started off just like any other fresh grad. I scoured job listings on the Web and newspapers, went to job fairs, and sent a ton of applications.

Since I already had a knack for writing since high school, I saw writing résumés as quite an enjoyable challenge. I even had friends asking me to edit or write theirs—actually, I’m still often asked to touch up CVs now and then. But after working for several different companies, I started to notice how recruiters looked at a CV. I also started chatting up HR people, I started reading more articles about recruitment and applying for work, and I also started looking at the applications my workplace received—taking note which were read, and which were ignored. The results were quite interesting, so here are some of the most important things I learned about the ideal CV…

Every cover letter and résumé needs to be custom-made for the specific job you’re applying for; which also means that you really should at least Google the company you’re trying to get into. Keep it relevant, is what I’m saying. The worst thing you can do is send a mass e-mail to a dozen companies at once.

Don’t be too wordy. If a recruiter has to go through a couple dozen applications, he or she will skip the novels. So, keep it short and concise.

Try to avoid buzzwords like ‘good team player’, ‘calm under pressure’, ‘hard worker’, etc. Not every recruiter likes phrases like these. I mean, if you are a good team player, it’s your teammates that should be saying that about you, no? So, let your experience do the talking.

Take it easy with the flattery. While it is somewhat expected that you’ll be writing about, say, how excited you are at the chance to join a company, or how you think that the company is the best in the industry, it is also all too easy to sound a bit overenthusiastic. Sticking to a formal tone is the safest approach.

Of course, there are plenty of other ‘insider tips’ for writing the perfect application, including a whole different approach that is sometimes used for writing the résumés of senior management candidates. But these are perhaps best left to the real HRM experts. As for me, since I already have a pretty good job right now, I don’t think I’ll be tinkering with my own résumé anytime soon. I do, however, have a story to share about what comes next, as in job interviews… (Hint: See my next post… ^^)

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