This article is all about CVs. It may seem basic, but even the best and brightest candidates sometimes still struggle with selling themselves effectively. First impressions count for everything when you are searching for a job, and a CV is usually the ultimate decider when it comes to getting through the first stage of the recruitment process.
In Honeycomb, my job is other people’s jobs. I recruit all day every day but in contrast, my clients' spend a small portion of their valuable time making recruitment decisions and judgement calls. Clients' who have their own heavy workloads and pressures don’t have the time to sift through lacklustre CVs on the off chance that you are better in person. There will always be someone else who has included their contact details and spelled their own name correctly! (Yes, seriously. That happens.)
Not everyone has an extensive list of qualifications to their name or loads of experience, but that's OK. Everyone can make the most of their experience if they present themselves in the right way. With that in mind, check out a few points below on the good elements of a CV and the things to avoid:
- Reverse chronological order. Always
- Justified text
- Simplistic lay out with uniform font that is easy to read
- A summary of the businesses which you have worked for and a job title, accompanied by a list of responsibilities below this
- Dates of employment with explanations for any gaps
- A comprehensive list of computer systems/technologies you have used and are competent in using currently
- A tailored and specific approach, focusing on transferable skills which are directly related to the role you are applying for. The best CVs are tweaked to focus on one particular role rather than being too generic.
- A short personal summary, detailing your (relevant and realistic) career aspirations paired with what you can offer a new employer
- Quantitative information – a ‘busy role’ in one business differs drastically to a busy role in another. Use figures where possible to explain the dynamics of your role and how the position is broken up in terms of time.
- Education information – grades, dates and institutions. Most candidates brush over their qualifications, but this just creates an unnecessary need for further questioning down the line if not included.
- Personal details, including your address
- Whether you possess a valid driving license
- Spelling and grammatical errors
- Wrong or missing contact details
- Too many 'buzz words'
- Too much information – the fact that you won an attendance award in primary school is not relevant, as much as you wish it was. Similarly, more than a line or 2 about what you enjoy outside of work is too much.
- A CV which is too long, but also one which is too short. Your CV shouldn’t be the size of a thesis, but if you have a had a few jobs it also shouldn’t fit within less than 2 pages either.
- Poor formatting
- Unnecessary jargon - use clear and concise language whilst avoiding very company-specific terms. You may think it sounds clever, but if the reader can't put it in to context it will hinder rather than help you.
- Misleading information and outright lies – This is the biggest bugbear of all recruiters. There is no point in saying you have advanced IT skills if the sight of Excel makes you feel faint. Likewise, using words such as ‘hard working’ when you have had years of unexplained joblessness also won’t cut it. Be honest – there will usually be someone better than all of us at something, but our attitude and insight in to our own abilities demonstrates maturity and a level head in the eyes of a Hiring Manager.
- Jokes on a CV – I pride myself on having a good sense of humour, but a joke on a CV is just the worst. Save your jokes for your first day when you have the job!
- Pictures – enough said.
I hope these points will help you when it comes to writing a CV in future, or maybe taking your selfie and one liner out of your current one! If you are seeking additional information on CVs and how to make yours stand out, don’t be a stranger – contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org