CVs Simplified: A Few Key Kickers for You
I’ve come across many CVs in my time as a recruiter (and even when I wasn’t). My record was 1071 CVs received in just under two weeks… for the record I read and responded to every single one of them and yes I did age considerably by the time I was finished.
No matter the year, industry or amount of experience, I always find similarities amongst the crop – a severe lack of detail, waaaay too much detail, MISSING CONTACT DETAILS (this is actually more common than you’d think) and some truly awful/amusing headshots.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when creating or updating your CV:
- Include your contact details I can’t believe I’m actually having to list this… This really is ‘a thing’. Failing to do so doesn’t instil huge amounts of confidence for anyone in a hiring position.
- Don’t fluff around with exacerbated ‘soft skills’. No job-seeker has ever written, “mediocre communication skills, average attention to detail.” on their CV – of course you’re going to say you’re ‘excellent’ because, why wouldn’t you? The reality is, listing soft skills is just space filler. Recruiters and hiring managers want to know if you can do the job, not how you intend to do it. (Hint: understanding ‘how’ is what interviews are for – we’ll gauge that stuff in person).
- Remember that not everyone will know the companies you worked for, even household names. It’s really helpful to include a sentence (one sentence… ONE.) which gives a little context to where you have worked and thus the kind of industry experience you can bring.
- List the month(s) and year(s) you were employed and feel free to include things like, ‘gap year’, or ‘travelled through Europe’ with correlated date ranges. There’s nothing wrong with having time off from your career and it looks much better than an unexplained gap in your employment.
- No one needs to know how old you are, if you are married, are a parent, your religious affiliation, or if you like to partake in underwater basket weaving book clubs in your spare time. You are not obliged to include any personal details (this includes headshots) and if anything, it’s better not to. Less bias – more focus on your actual skill set.
- It’s OK to have a CV that’s two or three (even four) pages long *GASP* I know, what a revelation. I used to recruit temps, most of which were candidates on working holiday visas from the UK and 99% of them had one page CVs. They were so condensed they barely had any detail left, which will only lead a recruiter to question your suitability and capability in any capacity. I didn’t realise you could set an ink-jet printer to produce documents with such small margins, but apparently…
- Don’t use borders, multiple colours, clip art, word art, GIFs, pictures of fairies (I wish I was kidding), etc. on your CV. Keep it pro, Bro.
- Before you start getting crafty with formatting, have a think about what your CV is going to look like when it’s in the hands of someone who knows nothing about you or your job history. I.E. COLUMNS ARE BAD, PEOPLE. I came across a CV recently – candidate was very talented but you couldn’t understand their experience unless their CV was printed, cut into strips and rearranged with sticky tape into chronological order. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Where possible, send your CV in Word or a similar, editable format – agency recruiters especially will want to reformat CVs before sending to a client to make their shortlists look uniform.
If you are interested in hiring or being hired, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org