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Writing a better CV

When applying for a job, your CV is the first chance you get to impress a potential employer. Therefore, a good CV will make good impression and a bad CV, well you know the consequence. At RITVN, we scan through hundreds of CV every year and while there are plenty of well-written CVs, a fair amount of the applied CVs are below acceptable standard because of many common mistakes. In this blog post, we’re discussing about the most common mistakes and how to fix them as well as some tips to level up the quality of your CVs.

Full of spelling mistakes

To find a good job in software industry, the first step is to write a good CV in English. While your English proficiency doesn’t need to be at the advanced level, having a CV with full of spelling mistakes is unacceptable. Most popular text editors, Word or Notepad++ to name a few, have a spell checker which can easily detect spelling mistakes. If you don’t know how to use a tool to correct words like “Gemany”, “profesionall”, or “sofware”, how can we trust that you are able to write correct code?

And one more tip: when you use Google to translate a word from Vietnamese to English, make sure you double check the English word. For example, when your parents (more on this family business later) “bán thuốc tây”, they are not drug dealers at all.

Too long

Most of the CVs we’ve received are excessively long ranging from 4 pages to more than 10 pages with full of irrelevant information. Ideally, your CV should have just 1 page if you are a junior, or 2 pages if you have more experience. Recruiters rarely read more than two pages and while many think that long CVs can show that they have a lot of experience, in fact they are a sight of you not able to write concisely.

In those 1 or 2 valuable pages, you should only write about:

  • Who you are.
  • What you are good at.
  • What you can do.
  • Your skills.
  • What make you an outstanding candidate.

Here is an example about a perfect 1-page CV:

Personally, this is the type of CVs that I like the most.

Irrelevant information

Most of the long CVs are long because they contain too much irrelevant information. The following pieces of information should never appear in a CV:

  • A long list of features of the software products you have developed. You can write one sentence to mention about every important product if that helps to show up your expertise, but do not describe the products and its feature lists in detail. Please note that you are pitching yourself, not those products, to potential employers.
  • Details about your family such as their names, ages, professionals, types of blood etc. With all respects to your family members, recruiters want to know about you, not them. As a side note, sometimes you might need to deal with your potential employer about a special work schedule due to your family situation, but that is a totally different story.

Your photo

Should you attach your photo in the CV? We recommend against doing it. Firstly, please remember that a well-written CV should only have a page or two so you should use all the space you have wisely. Do not waste valuable space with a photo. Secondly, a majority of CVs use Vietnamese-style identity card photos which look far from pretty. Anyway, if you are very insist in putting your photo in a CV, make sure you use a good-looking one.

Spend time on a cover letter

Recruiters spend time on writing job descriptions to show you why their companies are the good places to work as well as why their jobs are the best in the world! Similarly, a cover letter is where you show them your interest in the job by telling them why you like it and what makes you a good candidate. The true is only a minority of CVs have good cover letters. Not having a cover letter is not particularly bad, but having one can give you a plus.

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