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Archive for the 'General' Category

Is it Really Necessary to Restrict a CV to Two Pages?

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Most people try to stick to the two page CV writing format but most of them never question or bother to understand the reason.  They never ask themselves ‘why?’.

This assumption that there is some ‘magic’ in two pages gives rise to silly mistakes, one of the most usual being the use of a font which is so small that it makes the CV difficult to read.  Another is to eliminate most of the white space on the page, thus making it appear that the information has been ‘shoe horned’ onto the page.

Yet if we remember that a CV is all about communication, it is immediately  obvious that anything which spoils the presentation or makes it more difficult for the reader is a really big mistake and will give a bad first impression.

In reality the only reason for the two page CV writing format is because that is about the amount of information that a busy employer is likely to be willing to read when they have to consider a number of applications.  They are just too busy to read lengthy CVs.

When a prospective employer is considering your application they will be faced with a ‘call to action’ when they reach the bottom of page 1.  Should they turn the page?  Our job is to make sure that they are sufficiently interested in you to want to know what is on page 2 and by the time they get to the bottom of page 2 they need to have made up their minds about you, one way or the other.

I would advise that in the early stages of your career you should stick to the 2 page CV, it is unlikely that you will have enough information to justify a third page.  However, depending on the level of your career, there is nothing wrong with a 3 page CV but you have to carefully prioritise your information and only use the third page if absolutely necessary.

Generally speaking as your career progresses education and qualifications and become less important than practical experience.  This section can go on page  3 together with any other background information which is not vital to the decision making process.

So just remember make sure that your CV is interesting from the very beginning, don’t waste space on page 1 with information which is not relevant to the decision making process.  Keep the presentation simple and attractive with plenty of white space.  Remember that ‘less is more’ so don’t clutter your CV with unnecessary detail.  But if all else fails, there is nothing wrong with putting some of the information onto a third page.

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How to Sell Yourself in a CV Without Appearing Arrogant or Boastful

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

This is a question which I am frequently asked and one which many people struggle with.  Yet, as with all CV writing, the answer is only common sense.

A CV is all about communication with somebody who has no prior knowledge of you.  You need to give the prospective employer a reason why they should choose you rather than any of the other applicants for the position on offer.

In an effort to achieve this many people fall into the trap of describing personal strengths which, whilst they may be true, are not likely to impress an employer  unless you have validated these claims.  So rather than simply telling them how good you are you need to demonstrate the facts.

The best thing to do is to lead with a profile.  This should introduce you and set the context within which the rest of the CV should be read.  How would you introduce yourself to a stranger that you met at a party or in a lift?  I doubt very much whether you would start by telling him that you were an impassioned team leader or that you had excellent problem solving and analytical skills, yet this is the type of thing that most people choose say when introducing themselves in a CV.

Before writing your profile you should look at the job and/or person specification and identify what the prospective employer is looking for.  This is important because you will almost certainly be required to fit in with the rest of their team.  If you don’t have the qualifications and or skills that they are seeking then there would be no point in applying for the job, so don’t waste your time as you are bound to be disappointed.

If, on the other hand you do have what they are seeking, then demonstrate that clearly by giving information about how you have developed your skills and what you have achieved by using them.  If you are careful to stick to the facts and avoid what I call ‘perceptions’ there will be no chance of your appearing boastful.  This is only likely to happen if you make exaggerated claims  which cannot be validated.

Write your CV from the perspective of the employer, telling them what they need to know in order to judge the quality of you as a candidate.  If you stick to this approach then your CV will appear confident and professional and you will stand a much better chance of success.

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The Worst Mistakes in CV Writing

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The overall worst mistake is to forget that your CV is all about communicating with somebody who has no prior knowledge of you.  Anything which makes your CV more difficult to read and understand is a serious mistake.

There are no hard and fast rules for CV writing, it should just be based upon common sense.  Why is a two page CV preferable? Simply because that is about the amount of information a prospective employer is going to be willing to consider in making an initial assessment of any candidate.

When a prospective employer considers your CV they need to find page 1 interesting enough so that they will be encouraged to turn over.  By the time they reach the bottom of page 2 they will need to have made up their mind about you.  This means that you can put background information, or anything which is not relevant to the decision making process, onto a third page with no harm.  This may include education as well, depending upon the level of your career.

Yet one of the biggest mistakes is based upon the idea that a CV must fit into a two page format at all costs.  So, in an effort to cram all the information into this desired space, people will often use a font which is so small that it becomes really difficult to read.   Really silly mistake!

Which brings me to my next point – it is not necessary to include too much information, there will simply not be time to consider it all.  So go through your CV carefully and cut down on the adjectives and anything which is repetitious – you’ll be surprised how much that will help.  Then, bearing in mind that the CV is all about you and your skills, not about how your last employers ran their business, take out any unnecessary detail and leave only the bare facts.

If you are in a technical role, then I would strongly advise that you include a technical skill set.  This will make sure that all your technical skills are covered in one place.  If you remember that IT is a set of tools, you can then get on with demonstrating how you have used those tools to deliver required outcomes.  This will avoid the big mistake of littering your CV with numerous references to various technologies, which can make the whole thing appear confused and difficult to understand.  Remember that less is more and keep it simple!

Many people believe that you need to include descriptions of personal attributes in a CV but that this is only appropriate if you also include validation of any such claims.   For this reason I prefer to include AREAS OF EXPERIENCE and ACHIEVEMENTS. Thus, you can demonstrate your skills and when you have used them, rather than making exaggerated claims.  After all, whilst I would be absolutely certain that everything you were saying was true, the reader can’t be expected just to take your word for it.

There are other big mistakes which people make in their CAREER HISTORY (Employment) section, most of which are errors of omission.  The first is to identify previous employers by name alone.  This is OK if the Company is a household name, but otherwise you may be failing to show the environment you have worked in so it will be impossible to evaluate your achievements in the role.

When you  give information about your responsibilities you should give some information about how you fit in with the organisation as a whole.  Say whether you have operated within a team, whether you are a team leader, who you report to, the level of your financial responsibility, and anything else which makes your work within the role unique.

Other mistakes are the inclusion of anything which is ‘a given’ for a particular job eg an accountant who prepares accounts.  Tautology is another common error, eg saying that you are a sales manager who manages sales.

So what you should be doing is making sure that your CV is easy for a busy person to read and understand.   Set the context for your employment and resist the temptation to describe yourself and your personality  in glowing terms.  Avoid repetition and deliver a CV which will give enough information, but not too much, so that readers can make up their own minds about you.

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Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Welcome to the re-launch of my CV writing Blog.  Sorry I’ve been away so long.

My aim for the future is to provide regular updates giving CV information and tips.  This will not only help you if you want to write your own CV but, if you are thinking of using a professional writer, it will give you a good insight as to what makes my service unique.

Here are some of the subjects I intend to cover over the next few weeks

•    The worst mistakes in CV writing

•    Selling yourself without appearing arrogant or boastful

•    Making a 20+ year career fit onto two pages

•    Tips for Contractors on creating a concise CV

•    Demonstrating career progression in a CV

•    Understanding what you should put in your profile

•    Making sure that your CV is pitched at the right level

•    Dealing with gaps in employment

•    CV writing for older candidates


•    How to choose a CV Writing Service

•    Top tips for CV Writing

That should do for a start!

I’m also trying to learn how to make short videos so that I can do a series of blogs showing the best way to set out your CV and how to set about the task of CV writing, but that’s for a little bit later when I’ve developed some new skills.

Watch this space




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CV Writing Templates

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Whether or not a CV writing template is of any value in helping you to write the best CV will depend entirely upon the quality of the template.  That may sound obvious, but most of the free (and many of the ‘paid for’) templates I have seen are really worse than useless.

They are frequently based upon a table format with section headings on the left.  This has the effect of pushing all of the information onto the right hand side of the page, which makes it look unbalanced.  This type of template offers no help at all with creation of suitable content and gives an unattractive presentation.  Rather than use this type of template you would be much better following the advice on my website here on how to format a CV.  (more…)

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A CV is not an Autobiography

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

A CV is not a kind of shortened autobiography.  It is a marketing document for use in a very competitive market place.  What you need to do is to demonstrate in your CV is reasons why the prospective employer should consider you as a preferred candidate for the job on offer.

In order to do this, you will need to capture their interest from the outset, so that they will want to read on to find out more about you.  Remember that the only knowledge that the reader has of you is what you are telling them in your CV and you cannot assume any prior knowledge.  This means that you need to strike a balance between too much detail and enough information so that the reader can understand who you are and what you have to offer.

The first thing you need to do is to introduce yourself to set the context within which the rest of the CV should be read.  The best way to do this is with a profile which includes an overview of  information about the sectors you have worked in and the skills you have developed.

Don’t include detailed information and make sure that the information you do include is relevant to the application you are making.  For example, there is no need to include particulars of primary education.  If you are graduate then you probably don’t even need to include ‘A’ levels.

It is important to prioritise your information.  As your career progresses your experience will become more relevant than your education, so always make sure that the most important , career related information comes first.

Personal information should go at the bottom of page 2, if it is included at all.  These days I never include date of birth or marital status, but I do put in a section which I call ‘OTHER INFORMATION’ where I put in such things as Nationality, Driving (if relevant), languages and interests.

So when writing a CV remember that a CV is not an autobiography – it does not need to include full details of everything you have ever done.  The trick is in identifying your target market and making sure that your CV demonstrates that you have the qualities that the prospective employer will be looking for.

© This article is copyright The CV Consultancy 2010.  You have permission to reproduce this article or forward it to others, provided that the permission granted by The CV Consultancy is acknowledged and all links remain intact.

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Psychometric Testing

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I believe that psychometric testing or personality profiling is great in its proper place. It is a very useful tool for employers to be able to assess how a candidate will fit in with their team, and from your point of view it is very useful to be able to find out what the test will say about you. That is why we have included information about psychometric testing on our Website.

I do think, however, that it’s a bit like carrots which are jolly good for you, but even the best of things can be bad if taken to excess. I’m not at all sure that the personality profile can really tell you anything about yourself that you didn’t know already. (more…)

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What is a Modern CV?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The shortened form ‘CV’, stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ but whoever first applied this name can have had no idea of how the modern CV would evolve.

According to my Chambers Dictionary ‘Curriculum Vitae’ means ‘[a biographical sketch of] the course of one’s life’. Yet, whilst a type of potted autobiography may have been appropriate in the 1980s, CVs have come a very long way since then.  The American form ‘Resumé’ has become really more descriptive of what is now required.    (more…)

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CV Writing for IT Professionals

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Every CV should be regarded as a marketing document for use in a very competitive market place.  The only function of a CV is to deliver information, usually to a prospective employer in support of a job application.  It is your first point of contact with a new employer who knows nothing about you apart from what they can read and understand from the document you are submitting. (more…)

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A Positive Approach

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Looking for a new job is not dissimilar to looking for a life’s partner. You’ll only be able to handle one, so it’s important that it should be the right one for you.

If you are to be successful, it is very important to adopt a positive approach to every aspect of your job search.  Remember that your CV is the most important tool to introduce you to prospective employers, and it will need to establish what you have to offer.  Your CV needs to be accurate and truthful, and presented in a user friendly format. It is not an autobiography so don’t include too much detail, stick to what is relevant to the job application.  (more…)

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