You know when you promise to do something, and then discover that actually, you don’t have the time to do it, but you know you’ve got to do it because you’ve promised it, and if you don’t, you’ll look like a bit of a tit?
Welcome to my first “Working Wednesday” – which I promised to do yesterday!
So when my lightbulb moment came, and I decided that I would make this a weekly feature of my blog, I put a call out on twitter asking for people to come forward and tell me what kind of support or advice would be helpful if they were looking to return to work. As I’m still a relatively new blogger, no buggar answered, so I’m just going to have to wing it and hope that some of today’s words of wisdom applies to somebody out there. For this reason, I’m not going to focus on any specific finding work problem, instead I’m going to shout a bit about something that might be of help to lots of people: CV’s (“Thrilling!” I hear you all shout at once)
Your CV is a sales document – you’re selling your skills and experience to an employer, in the hope that he will buy them and give you an interview. It’s personal to you, and you know best how you want to come across to an employer. Lots of careers professionals disagree on how a CV should be presented, and lots of them think that their way is the right way. I’m going to give you MY top tips for a CV – some might disagree with me, and that’s fine.
Anyway, here are my top ten tips for a killer CV
· All CV’s should have a personal profile: A short paragraph at the top of the page (underneath your personal details) that tells an employer how wonderful you are. Apparently, an employer only really reads the first 2/3 of the first page of a CV, so this part should be crammed full of information that demonstrates your skills, abilities and fabulousness. Read the job advert or person specification – this tells you what skills the job requires, and it’s these requirements you need to meet within the first part of your CV
· Include a section on your skills and attributes. This should ideally go underneath your personal profile and be bullet-pointed so it’s nice and clear and concise. This should also reflect the requirements of the job
· Your CV should not exceed 2 pages, and generally not shorter either. It should be on good quality, white paper, preferably typed in a clear black font that is no bigger than 12 point. Please don’t spray it with Miss Dior eau de parfum or include foil confetti in the envelope. It won’t make you stand out from the crowd.
· Don’t have one CV that you send out to each and every employer for each and every job you want to apply for. You need to tailor your CV so it meets the requirements of the job. You wouldn’t fill in every application form the same, so you shouldn’t send off the same CV. An employer wants to feel as though you’ve made some effort just for them so make the effort! You need to tweak you r CV slightly each time you apply for a new job – the main sections to amend would be the personal profile and the skills and attributes as you want to demonstrate that you have the competence to apply for the job that is being advertised. I have recruited before, and it’s very obvious when people send out a generic CV that they don’t bother to change, and that makes me think they can’t want the job that much if they don’t out the effort in to match their CV to the job.
· Keep your CV to the point and factual. Avoid elaborate creativity. One of the funniest CV’s I came across was when a recently made redundant senior manager of a sales company brought me his CV for a once-over. He included a picture of a lion at the top. His CV went on to explain how his skills and personal qualities reflected that of a lion’s. He was “A natural born leader, a predator that worked to satisfy his companies hunger for profit, when he had a goal, he sunk his teeth into it and wouldn’t let go until it had been achieved.” I honestly wanted to piss my pants from laughing but had to be professional and tactfully gave him pointers on how he could make his CV more appealing (we took out the picture of, and any reference to, a lion)
· Only include information that is relevant: This means information that is relevant to the job. I know we all love our children to bits, but an employer does not need to know how old they are, what their names are or the fact that they played the donkey in last years nativity play. They also don’t need to know about your partner and their occupation, the lyrics of a song you have written for your local church choir or why you hold family meetings around the dinner table every Sunday evening. You think I’m joking? I kid you not, I have honestly, honestly witnessed these things on CV’s – and at times from very educated and successful people!
· You don’t need to put your date of birth, national insurance number, marital status, number of children, ethnic origin or health information on a CV. When application forms ask for these, they are usually asked on an optional and/or confidential equal opportunities form which usually gets separated from the application form – we all know that discrimination is wrong, but it can happen and some of this information could be used to discriminate during the sifting process. Leave it off.
· Always list your previous employment and education in date order, starting with the most recent first. You don’t need to include your primary school as you didn’t obtain qualifications there and not many employers care about what you were doing when you were 7.
· Always include a cover letter. The employer needs to know what job you’re applying for – I will focus on these more in a future “working Wednesday”
· Get someone else to proof-read your CV before you send it off. Spell-check doesn’t always pick up on words that you’ve mis-typed, but are spelt correctly. For example, you may be a “hot-shot” on computers, but you don’t want to tell an employer that you’re a “hot-shit”. (I actually wouldn’t recommend using the phrase “hot-shot” in your CV, I was simply using this as an example because I could swap the “shot” for “shit” and thought that might make my post a bit funnier)
That’s all you’re getting from me for today. There’s a lot more I could say about making your CV a killer one, but I think I need to go into more detail in a future post, before I bore you all to death. I wanted to include a CV template in case people wanted to use it, but have no idea how to attach a word document to my blog post. Any suggestions on how I might do this in future posts are most welcome!