Tips from the Top - Writing the CV
In the new big brave world of social network /media and search, managing your CV can be a mammoth task especially if you do not stay on top of it and regularly update it. It becomes very apparent when you see the volume of CVs that I do that it's easy for even those out there that fancy themselves as a budding Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens or Stephen King can and do get it very, very wrong.
I have worked with people who have forgotten that those very amusing but slightly risqué pictures of them on Facebook or Twitter might send out the wrong signals to a prospective employer, and are easily picked up by the most perfunctory of searches, don’t get me wrong everyone is allowed a social life but just be mindful of the reflection it has on you to employers. I have pointed out many a time that people's career history on Linkedin bears negligible relation to the one on their CV, or that the dates don't quite 'match'.
I have also noted respectfully that this is a small and sometimes a incestuous industry at the best of times, everyone knows each other in the local areas in some shape or form, and being rude about your previous employer in any public medium might be a touch imprudent.
That's all before we get onto the CV itself, where the crimes against career progression are many and various. The great lengths that people feel they need to go to describe a career spanning a mighty 18 months (I think our record is six pages of A4) – the lists of skills so long that you might as well note the ability to breath in and out, stand up and sit down on command.
Then there's the list of achievements (Winning the egg and spoon race in year 6 does not count as an achievement 🏆) so plentiful that even your mother would get bored of you telling her, and interests, that are many things but interesting (socialising and food do not qualify as interests; they just qualify you as human 🙈). There are also the fundamental crimes of bad spelling, grammar and syntax, combined with terrible layouts, font and design.
But with some time and effort, a bit of meticulous attention (and if necessary some help from your friendly neighbourhood Recruiter….That’s me by the way 😁), it's perfectly straightforward to create a striking, punctilious, and successful CV.
Think about the big picture 🖼
Remember that any prospective employer who takes the CV you send them at face value would be a fool. Make sure that your digital presence is up to date, accurate and consistent with the traditional CV that you put together. If you have anything up on a social site that you wouldn't want a potential employer to see, check, check again and double check that your privacy settings are up to date. Or even better take it down. Google yourself if you haven't already, and see what comes up.
Keep it short & sweet 🍬
The sad truth is that most people will spend just moments glancing over your CV, so be ruthless about what you include. One/ Two pages is ideal.
Get the basics right 👍🏼
List your work experience in reverse order. Explain any gaps (See my Previous blog on why this is Vitally important https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mind-gap-cv-tips-ashley-dutton/). Put dates in the same format. The further you are into your career the more brutal you need to be with the stuff at the beginning (no-one is really that interested in your GCSEs). Keep contact details short and to the point – employers usually ask for referees if they need them – and check your spelling and grammar, and if that's not your forte, get someone else to check it for you and then double triple check it.
Think about how it looks 🧐
Get a layout that works for you, and then think carefully about how you structure headings, sub-headings and bullets if you use them. Think about whether a dash of colour might be in order (This can reflect positively on your personality). If you see a CV design that you like, borrow it, or even better, get you friendly neighbourhood Job Board (Yes that’s me again 👨🏼🎨) to have a look at it for you – it's a good investment. When you're happy with it save it as a .pdf to make sure that no-one can fiddle with the content and save a original copy as a .doc so you can come back and edit it in future..
Prioritise achievements over responsibilities 📊
Think about what you've achieved: quality of work, relationship, profitability. What are you most proud of? Think about your personal contribution, not just what the team or organisation delivered.
Write a personal profile 📝
They are difficult to write, but can be very effective. To work they need to avoid the 'team player who is happy to work independently' 🙄 clichés – avoid the third person as well because it sounds forced. If you find it too uncomfortable then just let your experience speak for itself, but it is worth having a go. (Look out for another article in a few weeks on how to best write this)
Make your interests interesting 🤺
If they're not, leave them out 😴. They're interesting if they say something about your personality, are particularly memorable, or are extremely relevant to a future employer. Most people like travelling, eating out and occasionally going to the cinema or a gallery – not many people play the trumpet or make their own clothes, or a mini inventors or like making Wine in their sheds….mmm wine🍷
Any way stick to these few key points and you will have a great basis for obtaining and secure that interview for your dream job
If you would like any help or further advice on writing your CV please get in touch with us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
We also offer a fully customisable CV template which is free of Charge to any candidate to help structure your CV accordingly.