Tips on Preparing Good CVs from a HR Perspective

Having done back-to-back HR Internships, I have viewed many CVs to screen potential job candidates. Hence, I believe that I am quite knowledgeable to provide tips for students looking to find internships, as well as graduates looking to find full time jobs!

Thus, I will share some things to take note of.

For CVs, remember to:

1) Keep it short and succinct.
2) Keep it simple and neat.
3) Keep it relevant.

This may seem like a ‘state the obvious’ situation, but you would be surprised to discover how many CVs do not satisfy these requirements! For example, I once came across a 6-page-long CV, detailing the candidate’s different experiences from a part-time job they had in secondary school to their current internship! Having unnecessary or irrelevant experiences on your CV may make it look overwhelming and overcrowded, especially if it is not related to the job scope of the role that you are applying to!

A good tool to use would be VMock, which NTU students (including me!) utilise to clean up their CVs and gain feedback based on AI analysis. VMock will also help tidy up the look of your resume and provide suggestions on how certain things can be rephrased and improved. This is just one of the online platforms that people can use to help generate their CVs!

I would also like to emphasize the importance of keeping your CVs relevant and succinct. I know sometimes you may not have the relevant working experience when you’re looking for your first internship, but I would like to provide an anecdote of a CV that was immediately rejected.

At first glance, this candidate’s resume was very full, so I thought they had a lot of experience. However, after reviewing it in depth, the resume was full of fluff. The role they applied for was in marketing, but their CV had no indication of marketing experience at all. Some companies may be more lenient, accepting CCA experiences if it was related to the job scope, but I struggled to find anything relevant with their background. They mentioned their church volunteering activities, English modules, and different CCAs, but none were relevant to the job scope. Hence, leading me to reject them based on their CV alone.

Thus, it would be better to have an emptier resume for those applying for their first internships, rather than filling up their CVs with fluff. Moreover, if they are struggling to find things to add in their CVs, if your CCAs are relevant, and if you have taken relevant online courses before, or school projects, that is okay! Just ensure what you showcase on your CV aligns with the job you are applying for.

Now, let’s move onto HR calls. I must admit, I may sound a bit biased for this point, but after working this role at three different companies — it is important to respect the HR person’s time and decisions. I have experienced moments where candidates would be rude, lack email/call etiquette, rush me for something urgent after working hours, or request to call during my lunch time/after hours.

This rarely happens, but I feel like I still must make it a point that etiquette is important. The HR person is who you make your first impression to, and based on their interactions with you can determine whether you are recommended to take the next step in the hiring process. Most people working in HR are handling multiple profiles at one go, so please be understanding that sometimes, it may take some time to get back to you especially if you must consider other aspects of hiring such as the main hiring team’s reply to responses. HR is the bridge between you and your potential employer.

Another thing I want to bring up, is that it is okay to reach out to people on LinkedIn to ask questions in relation to the role. However, it seems that a lot of people that I do not particularly know have messaged me asking me for a job or to prioritise them and expedite the hiring process for them. Maybe there are HR personnel that are more open to that type of enthusiasm, but personally as an intern, I do not appreciate it. While I will entertain questions on the role, I have had instances where people reach out to me purely with the intention of me favouring them for a certain role, which rubs me the wrong way. It is okay to be enthusiastic when looking for a job, and reaching out, but in my opinion, your own merit and capabilities will always matter most in the end.

Hypothetically speaking (and I have mentioned this to people before), even if I were to prioritize a candidate and push them to a hiring manager, it is the hiring manager’s decision to offer in the end. If the candidate is lacking in skills, or if the hiring manager is not interested, there is nothing that I can do.

For the HR calls itself, I want to remind candidates to research the company and the job scope well. I have had instances where I would call candidates that looked like they had potential on their CV but knew nothing about the job scope or the company. While I understand, sometimes we just mass apply to different companies in one shot. Once the HR personnel contacts you and requests for a call, do take the time to look through the job description and familiarize yourself with it, and learn more about the company as well. **Familiarising yourself with the job description is important because I have heard comments from the hiring managers of candidates not knowing much about the job scope when they were asked.

Moreover, be confident with yourself. An interview is essentially you are marketing yourself to the hiring managers and to the HR personnels, so it would be good to know how to articulate your past experiences well. Most importantly, once again, be confident! The minute the candidate sounds unsure of their own capabilities, it makes me doubt their capabilities as well. Don’t lie either; it is obvious when a candidate is upselling a certain skill that they might not have, because they fumble a lot and have a hard time explaining their understanding and proficiency in it.

Hence, to summarise all these tips:

1) Keep your CV simple, succinct, and relevant.
2) Respect your HR Personnel.
3) Be confident.
4) Be truthful about your skills.
5) Look for opportunities to improve your skills.
6) Study up on the job scope and the company beforehand.

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