I’m often asked for recruitment tips, so I thought I would share a few:
Creating a compelling cv:
There are many myths, and frankly a lot of nonsense, talked about the perfect cv – it must be no more than two pages long, it should be competency-based, it should only include your last three jobs…
The most important thing a cv should do is to sell you – it needs to represent exactly what you want to say about yourself, your career aspirations, your key strengths, your career history in its entirety, your responsibilities and your achievements. It can be as long as you want, but it needs to be clear, coherent, well-laid out and a compelling read. It also needs to be straightforward, honest, free from meaningless statements and hyperbole, and verifiable.
There is no right or wrong, but here are some fundamentals which should help make the difference between your cv being read thoroughly and being overlooked or put in the bin.
Start with your full name, address and contact details. It is pointless to leave these off – if an employer can’t contact you, they are more likely to reject you at the outset.
Age – there is little point in being cute about this, because most employers will ask in any case, mainly as an additional indication of level of experience.
A mission statement – summarise your key strengths and your aspirations, but make sure any statements are useful and meaningful – telling an employer you are a great strategic thinker doesn’t actually mean a great deal, whereas saying you are experienced in devising and implementing strategies in e.g. marketing or business development has meaning and relevance. Relate your summary to your aspirations
Career history in reverse chronological order – make sure you include the dates of each role, the full name of the employer and what the employer does. This is essential – you cannot assume that every potential employer will know what the company does, and it is vital to give context to every role you list
Full job title
A full bullet-pointed list of your responsibilities
A full bullet-pointed list of your achievements – write in bullet-point format, not in great blocks of text, because these look unwieldy and may be passed over
If you are describing a commercial role, include client names wherever possible, and give verifiable performance figures – don’t just quote percentages, give actual figures otherwise the stats are meaningless
Include every role, and don’t leave gaps – employers hate them. if you have had a period of unemployment, or a career break of any kind, include it in the chronology, not somewhere else on the cv, so it is clear and doesn’t confuse the reader
Give reasons for leaving, and make sure they are clear, honest but never too negative about the employer
After your career history, include academic qualifications, including any internships you may have had, as these could be useful, particularly if you are at an early stage in your career
Include details of membership of any professional bodies, particularly if you are on any professional committees or councils
Include details of any interests outside work which may be relevant, e.g. running a sports team or governor of a local school
Remember to include additional skills such as fluency in additional languages (but only if you are genuinely fluent – ‘business’ level means fluency, i.e. writing, speaking and presenting in the language – anything less than this is useless to an employer), clean driving licence, professional qualifications such as Prince 2
A few other tips:
Never lie or embellish – only write what you are confident you can prove
Keep it simple – don’t over-format, don’t include logos or urls as most cvs are still printed off and read offline, and use a professional font such as Times Roman, Arial or Helvetica – fancy fonts look ridiculous and you won’t be taken seriously.
Don’t write in acronyms – outside your own industry, no-one will know what they mean