Saturday, 11 May 2013

10 CV Tips You Might Not Know

I'm currently looking for a new freelance Community Manager or Social Media consulting project. Part of getting yourself back out there always involves dusting off your CV and realising that it might not be the most awesome representation of yourself that you can muster. My previous job working in recruitment lets me into loads of industry secrets about writing a resume. My first week on the job blew nearly all of my preconceptions out of the water, and I started to wonder how I got the job in the first place when my CV was so rubbish.

Here's 10 behind-the-scenes tips that might be of use if you are updating yours...

1. Immediately remove the word 'dynamic' from anywhere that it features in your CV. It sucks, but it's the most overused word in jobhunting. I did a count one day and I came across 23 CV's in just 8 hours that described their owners as 'dynamic'. It's cliche, just like 'hard-working' (who would say anything different to a potential employer?), dedicated, team player etc etc.

2. Think about how you would honestly describe your work ethic in an interview. Make a list of ten words that aren't cliched, but specific to you, and use them in the spots you have left after removing the cliches.

3. CV's should ALWAYS be in reverse chronological order, most recent job first. I loathe to include this in a list of CV tips that "you might not know" but it's a very common mistake.

4. Recruiters only ever look at the first page of your CV. After a brief description of you; "I am a versatile and fully experienced doughnut baker..." move straight onto your most recent (and relevant) role. Leave qualifications, hobbies and all that bumpf to the end where noone will bother looking until at least your third interview, possibly ever.

5. Your most recent role should have the most information. I would only include your most recent three positions anyway (especially if you are permanent and not a freelancer). Many an hour is spent in a recruiters life cutting CV's down, and the first thing to go is any role more than 6 years ago.

6. The best format for role descriptions is this:

Brief description of your role within the company
  • Bullet points containing achievements
  • Another achievement
  • Another achievement
Description of what you learnt from the job or what skills your gained.

7. It is never okay to bad-mouth a previous employer. Many a CV has been binned for the smallest of misdemeanors in this direction. Don't even say why you left, it's not what your resume is for and noone is expecting you to. You'll be asked at interview stage - and then of course, always give a generic reason. "Oh they moved offices, I took the opportunity to progress my career with a move" or "my contract ended and I felt I wasn't learning any new skills, I'm a believer in constant self-improvement" It doesn't actually matter what you say, noone cares as long as you aren't saying your old boss was a dick - it makes you look spiteful and the immediate thought will be "what will they say about us when they move on in the future?"

8. White space is the most important thing your CV can have. Recruiters especially are under time pressure, so a huge, packed, intense CV isn't doing anyone any favours. The key is to lay out all essential information, facts, figures, what you are looking for and where you have been - in that order of priority. Space your paragraphs and increase your margins. Don't try the old trick of making the text smaller so that you can reduce your 34 page CV to 18 pages. Noone cares about the job you did in 1983 anyway. A CV is a summary of your successes and achievements.

9. Your full name, Linkedin profile (essential!) and at least two ways of contacting you should be at the top, in bold if you fancy. There should be NO hunt-the-contact information going on. Many jobs have so many applicants that the employer or recruiter just won't bother. Also, why the hell are people STILL writing C U R R I C U L U M V I T A E on the top of their resume? Waste of space, don't bother. There should be nothing on that page that isn't essential information about you.

10. Essential - Name the document containing your CV with your full name and your desired position. So, "Katy Clouds Social Media Consultant.doc", not just "cv.doc". The reason for this is when a CV comes through a recruiter will save it "just in case". I used to have about 700 cv's all sitting in a temporary folder. If they didn't have a name for the title I had no clue and never looked at them again.

I hope these little tips help you out.  Please feel free to email me, katyclouds [at] outlook [dot] com if you have any more in-depth questions, I'd be really happy to offer any advice that I can.

Katy x

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