I’ve had to trawl through CVs when doing recruitment at my various ‘day jobs’
(Strangely had to do it quite frequently as my last ‘day job’, not that there was a high staff turnover or anything?!) and whilst nosing through someone’s career history and personal interests is intriguing at first… I can tell you it soon becomes tedious. Copious amounts of caffeine are required. Colleagues constantly interrupt you, and you forget what you were reading, automatically moving onto the next CV in the pile. Yep, when it comes to a CV, you really do need something which stands out. Here are my top tips:
1. Keep it short
There’s a general rule that a CV should be no more than two sides of A4. From my experience, this apparent ‘general rule’, is ignored by approximately 90% of the population. Seriously, keep it petite. Think of a CV like an online dating profile, you want it to give people an idea of all of your best bits, but you don’t want to give the full game away. You want there to be a reason that they want to meet with you, when you will astound them with how amazing you are, so:
- Create intrigue
- Use bullet points and clever formatting (e.g. bold, italics, spacing)
- Make every word count
2. Tell me a story
Don’t take this literally. Starting your CV with ‘Once upon a time’ would put most recruiters off. But if someone is looking to employ you they want more than a list of the companies you’ve worked for. Yes, you want to include your ‘duties’ within that position. But, really you want to do more than just that. This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
- list your achievements within your previous roles (e.g. cost savings, exceeding targets, new procedures). Show that you made a difference and how.
- if it’s appropriate, use an objective at the start of your CV. This is your opportunity to show where you want your career to go next. The next chapter in your story if you like.
3. Don’t be too wacky
Unless you think it will go down well with the company you’re approaching – keep it strictly business. I remember a CV with photographs of the candidate hugging a tree made it around the whole of one of my workplaces – for all of the wrong reasons – back in the days before viral, this was the way offices used to get their Friday afternoon chuckles. Needless to say this candidate never got invited to interview.
4. Keep it standard
The company you’re applying to needs to be able to open your CV so they can read it. Obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised! So make sure you save it into a standard format, ideally Word.
5. Proof-read it
Make sure you’ve got your telephone number and email address correct. Ensure there are no glaring typos. Get someone else to read through it for you, chances are if you’ve been looking at it for hours, you’re no longer going to spot the mistakes.
6. Make your interests, er interesting
Sure, include the norms… socialising, reading, yada yada. But remember a few ‘out there’ hobbies make you stand out from the crowd. When one candidate listed one of her hobbies as ‘British Military Fitness’, we had to get her in for interview because we were intrigued. As it happens, she got the job!
7. Put it in a logical order
What have you done most recently, gained a new qualification or been in employment? If you haven’t completed any qualifications for a few years they should probably sit behind your employment history, as that’s going to be more relevant to a future workplace.
There’s loads of info on this topic scattered all over the web, so if you are looking to do a CV re-write it’s worth having a nose around. This is just my (lucky?) seven tips. What advice would you give?
In terms of my job hunt. Well my CV seems to be opening doors. I’ve had a number of interviews and second interviews over the past few weeks. I’ve actually got another second interview today – keep your fingers crossed for me! The market is slower than usual and there’s not as much choice around as there would ordinarily be, but there are jobs.