The CV Consultancy Providing a dedicated CV writing service for Professionals Sun, 27 Jan 2013 09:41:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Is it Really Necessary to Restrict a CV to Two Pages? Mon, 03 Dec 2012 08:39:36 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

]]> 0
How to Sell Yourself in a CV Without Appearing Arrogant or Boastful Fri, 23 Nov 2012 16:36:22 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

]]> 0
The Worst Mistakes in CV Writing Wed, 14 Nov 2012 15:52:13 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

]]> 0
Welcome Thu, 08 Nov 2012 14:11:30 +0000 Gwyneth 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




]]> 0
CV Writing Templates Mon, 29 Nov 2010 15:15:09 +0000 Gwyneth 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. 

Another alternative which you may be offered, is access to a huge number of editable CV templates.  The idea is that you should be able to find one that’s suitable and then adapt it with your own information.  This sounds like it might work, yet your CV is very personal to you, and I would be very surprised if you could adapt somebody else’s CV to suit you.

With CV templates, as with most things in life, you will get what you pay for.  CV template packages at their best can be a really useful tool, and can offer an extremely cost effective alternative to having a professional CV.  But you do have to be careful what you choose.

It’s unlikely that you will get anything suitable or really helpful unless you are paying for it.  Even if you are paying, it can seem to be extremely difficult to know how to choose, since you are not going to be able to inspect the product in advance.

However, I don’t think that a CV template alone is enough to help you create a good CV.  What you need is guidance notes to use alongside the template.  This will then give you information as to how each section should be completed and can, indeed, provide a really cost effective solution.

The CV Consultancy doesn’t provide CV writing templates, but if you visit my other site here you will find more information about the templates which I have developed.  When you buy these CV templates, for which prices start at only £12.95, what you are getting is the benefit of the many hours of work that has gone into developing them.  This really does represent the very best solution for somebody needing expert help with developing their own CV.

]]> 0
A CV is not an Autobiography Tue, 21 Sep 2010 10:42:30 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

]]> 0
Psychometric Testing Mon, 02 Aug 2010 10:36:32 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

The problem with psychometric tests is that people tend to include elements from them in their CVs in an endeavour to describe the type of person they are. This is a big mistake. It’s a bad idea to include anything in the CV that is not demonstrable.

The type of thing I mean is where people include something like the following in their profile:

“A highly dynamic and flexible person. Intelligent and hard working with an agile mind. A pro-active problem solver and excellent communicator ……….”

Now, these claims may all be true but because they are comparative and are really a matter of opinion, they are simply a waste of space.  Yet this is a trap that almost everyone falls into and I have even seen so called ‘professionals’ advising that personal characteristics should be included in the profile.

The profile is a very important part of any CV but it needs to be an introduction that focuses upon your achievements and skills. It sets the context within which the rest of the CV should be read.  You need to show, in real terms, what you have to offer to a prospective employer and why that makes you the preferred candidate.

]]> 0
What is a Modern CV? Wed, 20 Jan 2010 16:47:30 +0000 Gwyneth 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.   

Nevertheless it never ceases to surprise me how few people recognise the change.  They do not seem to realise that the autobiographical format is inappropriate for the current jobs market. Employers simply don’t have the time, or the need, to consider detailed information about every aspect of an applicant’s life.  Neither are they impressed by unsubstantiated descriptions of attributes and personal characteristics which are perceptions rather than demonstrable facts.

So what is a required for a modern CV and how has it evolved from the original concept?

To find the answer to this question, we need to identify the purpose for which the CV is intended. Its one and only purpose is to deliver information, usually in support of a job application to somebody who has no prior knowledge of you. Anything which detracts from that aim must be counter productive.

In my opinion, shaded boxes, lines, tables all represent ‘clutter’ which draw the eye away from the text.  Keep the appearance of the page clean and businesslike.  What is needed is a concise, easy to understand, presentation.  The CV needs to have well defined sections, separated by clear headings and plenty of white space on the page.  This will ensure that it is easy understand and navigate and will make sure that it fulfils its intended purpose.

The optimum length for a CV is two pages and most people are aware of this. However, in order to meet this requirement people frequently cram far too much detailed information onto the two pages, using a very small font just so that it all fits into the space. This means that the CV becomes very difficult to read and understand.

Now, anything which makes the prospective employer’s job harder must be counter-productive. The two page format is meant to be a guide to define the amount of information usually required by an employer in order to consider job applications, it is not a requirement just to save paper.

A modern CV is a marketing document for use in a very competitive environment.  It represents an applicant’s first point of contact with a new employer.  Unless you have been ‘head-hunted’ then the information contained in your CV is all that the prospective employer can know about you in the first instance. So it is imperative to get the right message across in the clearest way possible.

Remember that for every job advertised there are likely to be about 200 applicants.  That means that some unfortunate individual is likely to be ploughing through up to 200 CVs.  No wonder many CVs are confined to the bin without even being read.

Here is the important part which I am constantly stressing, you may be the ideal candidate – just what the employer is looking for – but he needs to recognise you.   Unless your CV is user-friendly it may never get past the first hurdle.  It needs to be presented in a way that can easily be understood by a very weary person who may already have had to plough through a large number of applications.

Just because you understand the information in your CV doesn’t mean that somebody else will.  After all, you have the benefit of an insider’s view.  You need to overcome the temptation to put in all the detail. Be selective, avoid repetition and strip the information to the bare facts.  Make sure that all claims you make are true and clearly demonstrated.

Identify what the employer is looking for (this will be in the job or person specification) and the make sure that you only include the facts that they will need for the decision making process.

So to summarise? What is a modern CV?   It is your introduction to a prospective new employer.  It is an opportunity to prove that you are the person with the skills and talents they are seeking.  Unless it does that effectively, you will have lost an opportunity, because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

© This article is copyright CV Consultancy 2010.  You have permission to reproduce this article or forward it to others, provided that all links and the resource box at the bottom remain intact.

]]> 0
Tailor your CV for Periods of Self Employment Fri, 06 Nov 2009 15:41:42 +0000 Gwyneth It must be well known that employers are frequently wary of giving full time jobs to people who have previously been long-term self employed.

When writing a CV it is always a good idea to put yourself in the position of the prospective employer, writing from an objective viewpoint and this is particularly important for people in this situation.

So to create a CV which overcomes this problem, the first thing we need to do is to ask ‘why?’ and then directly address those issues.

I believe that the main issues are that self employed people are perceived as ‘marching to your own drum’ and being used to working alone. Not necessarily being disciplined, taking direction and fitting in with processes and procedures decided upon by others.

Obviously the circumstances will differ from one person to another, yet whatever your area of expertise, you will presumably have had clients (or customers), and you will have needed to take direction from them, so make sure that you use your CV to demonstrate this. ‘Working under direction of clients’, providing a service which is ‘in accordance with Company guidelines’, these are the type of phrases which you should be using.  If at all possible show that your clients or customers have been loyal to you, thus proving that you have provided a consistently high standard of service which they have been happy with. Mention how you have fitted in with their management (or any other) team and how you have been able to work closely with clients’ own staff.

If you have been a contractor, working within a firm or Company, then it becomes even easier to make it clear that you are still used to working as part of a larger organisation.  If your contracts have been extended, or repeated, then be sure to mention this as it demonstrates that the clients were happy with the service you were providing and that they liked having you around.

Often the particular words you use can make things feel different, for example I would advise that you should avoid the description ‘self employed’.  Somehow that tends to emphasise the fact that you were independent and alone.  It is far better to describe yourself as ‘freelance’ followed by whatever is your particular area of specialisation.  You may be a ‘freelance consultant’, a ‘freelance artist’ or even a ‘freelance contractor’, but any of these sounds better than ‘self employed’.  If you worked in a role where you were filling in, for example, for maternity leave then describe the role as ‘interim’ rather than ‘temporary’ which again has a better sound.

No matter what your circumstances, you should always use your CV to market yourself carefully, making sure that you demonstrate the qualities and qualifications  that the employer is seeking.   If you have recently been self employed, then it is just a little more important that you should get it right.  With careful thought, or professional advice if necessary, there is no reason why you should not be successful.

]]> 0
CV Writing for IT Professionals Thu, 15 Oct 2009 09:11:52 +0000 Gwyneth 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.

For all of these reasons it is vital to present the information in a clear, easy to understand format which is not an easy thing to achieve. This is especially true when you bear in mind that it must be possible for a very busy person to be able to see what you have to offer, even though they may be speed reading the CV in the first instance.

CV writing for IT experts can be particularly difficult because it presents unique challenges.  You need to differentiate between demonstrating your technical expertise and identifying project deliverables.

As with all marketing documents, you need to start off with a ‘pitch’.  In this case it will be a profile, followed by one or two clear bulleted lists demonstrating skills and/or achievements. If you include here a section entitled ‘Technical Expertise’ and then clearly set out details of your technical skills, you will be off to a flying start in making that all important good first impression.  You will have ensured that the reader can immediately understand what you have to offer.

After the ‘pitch’ will come the ‘validation’.  This will be your Career History and Education and Qualifications sections in which you will demonstrate how you have acquired your skills and how you have used them for the benefit of previous employers.

There is a very real danger, and it is a trap that many people fall into, that in describing your technical expertise you forget to explain what practical results you were seeking to achieve.  You will have already specified the technical expertise that you can offer at the beginning of the CV, so it is not necessary to go into very great detail about the technologies which were used for each project.  By all means mention them, but avoid using jargon or acronyms unless you are very sure that the reader will understand what they mean.

Remember that technology is simply a set of tools which you are using to deliver end results.  By specifying outcomes and the context within which you used the tools, you are able to demonstrate that your use of IT was expert and effective. That is what you really need your CV to tell employers, so that they can recognise you as the ideal candidate for the job they have on offer.

]]> 0