So 126 hours, 76 cups of tea & coffee, 18 slices of cake and 142 emails later we don't have a definite rule as to how your CV should look or what should be included.
We have found that each of us has a slightly different style when it comes to writing and laying out our CV's, most of which are fine, and others, which are big no’s. However we have managed to agree on some fundamental points, which we believe should be used as a guide when writing your CV.
1. DON'T RUSH IT
When we spoke to our customers, one of the first things they came back to us and said was they wished they had a little more time to write their CV, or that they felt rushed to finish it just to get it sent off. It may sometimes feel like time is running away from you, but that extra hour can be the difference between getting that job or spending hours applying.
2. DO INLCUDE YOUR KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
Occasionally we find it hard to know what our key achievements are and think that hiring managers won't want to know. Well they do. It tells them a little more about you and it starts to turn your CV from being a letter / story into a selling tool. If you are struggling to think of what these may be, ask your friends, family members or ex / current work colleagues.
3. SHOULD YOU INLCUDE A PERSONAL PROFILE?
Absolutely. However be careful this doesn't become an autobiography. This should be a short and snappy paragraph that sums you up. Again it can be difficult to sell yourself on paper, so ask friends and family how they perceive you. Read our article on how to build a personal profile for more hints and tips.
4. DO I NEED TO DOUBLE CHECK MY CV?
Yes, yes and yes. We would recommend you check your CV twice before you send it out. Hiring managers are likely to bin a CV it if contains any errors. We would say check it once you've finished, check it again the next day once you have had a break from it and then finally ask a friend or family member to check it if possible. Remember this is your selling tool and the first impression to your potentially new employer, make it count.
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5. DO I NEED MORE THAN ONE CV?
This is such a simple thing and yet so many of us think one CV is enough, it isn't. You should have a CV for each industry you’re applying to. You then have two options. You can either customise your CV even further to suit the job perfectly, or use a cover letter to customise your application for each job, selling yourself into the role so the hiring manager starts to envisage you working for them. You can use our FREE CV Builder to help you keep track of all your CV’s and build them quickly.
6. IS IT OKAY TO STRECH THE TRUTH ON MY CV?
Again, there are differences of opinion on this but we says it's best not to. You don't want to tell an employer you have a forklift truck license in date and then they ask you to quickly unload a lorry and you have never even sat in a forklift truck, let alone driven one. Be honest with your potentially new employer, if you don't have some of the key skills they are asking for, highlight the ones you do have and let them know you’re willing to learn / train to gain the additional skills.
7. SHOULD I INCLUDE THINGS LIKE MY AGE?
Absolutely not. Why does it matter to an employer how old you are, surely all that matters is that you feel you have the skills and experience to do the job they are asking for.
8. MY CV IS 4 PAGES, IS THAT TOO LONG?
We think so yes. Imagine you are an employer that has had over 200 CV's for one job. Are you likely to read every page of everyone's CV in the first instance? Probably not. For most of us, if we have a CV that is more than 2 pages then there is normally one of two reasons for this.
a. The font size, line spacing or page margins are totally out. Your font size should be legible but not overpowering. Again, the same applies for your line spacing, and remember to keep an eye on your page margins.
b. You have lots of experience, qualifications and information to tell your potentially new employer. In this instance ask yourself “Have you adapted your application to suit the company and role”, probably not. In doing this, you normally can reduce the size of your CV drastically and ensure it only includes information that relates specifically to the job and company you’re applying to. An accountancy recruiting an accountant is more likely to want to read about the skills, qualifications and experiences relating to accountancy than reading about your ability to stack shelves in a job you had 20 years ago whilst at university.
9. I'VE SENT OUT LOTS OF CV'S, BUT NOT HAD ONE INTERVIEW.
This is something we hear all too often and it saddens us that some employers don’t acknowledge receipt of your application or provide you with feedback after an interview. Your CV should never stand still; it should be a living document that grows with you. Even if you have applied for a role and not heard from the employer, use this as an opportunity to gain feedback. Pick the phone up and call the employer, asking for feedback on your CV and application. Then, use this to tweak your application in preparation for the next role you apply for. It will also give you an opportunity to sell yourself to the company in case they have missed some vital information from your application. You can find out more on how to combat this by reading our article.
Out of all of these, the best tip we can give you is don't give up. Your perfect job is out there; you just need to look hard enough and persevere.