In my last column, I suggested that as the market appears to have started to pick up somewhat, now might be an opportune time to dust off and submit your CV. In my course of work, I’m often asked to opine on a person’s CV, and before I do I always respond with the maxim ‘ask 10 recruiters what should be in a perfect CV and you’ll likely get 15 responses back’. In reality, there’s no perfect CV in the same way, thankfully, as there’s no such perfect candidate. However, there are some golden rules, which, if they aren’t followed, make it significantly less likely for your CV to be: (i) noticed; and (ii) followed through to the all important initial interview.
Firstly, it should be no more than two pages long—as interesting and as varied as you may feel you are, the person reading your CV (likely from HR as an initial screener) will possibly have tens or more to read, and there is a finite attention span rule in play, so keep it succinct.
Secondly, it is a professional document and is a physical representation of yourself, so ensure it is grammatically correct, articulate, informative and not verbose. In terms of structure, a brief personal mission statement under your contact details is acceptable, but the language should not be too flowery or personal. By way of example, I once received a CV from someone who called themselves “handsome, passionate and thrusting”, which might—just might—work on a dating site, but it has no place in a professional job-seeker’s CV.
A brief synopsis of your career should then follow—it is acceptable to have different CVs for different roles, ie, one concentrating more on relationship management experience, another focusing on sales, but whatever you include it must be honest and truthful. If you’re going for a sales role, then do try to put relevant wins and figures and percentages in there, unless something is confidential. Age is a no-no, because while it can be usually worked out from the career history, it is unnecessary to flag it up. Marital status, religion, health and your possession of a clean driving licence are all equally irrelevant.
Finally, just prior to the final educational qualifications section, I would encourage you to add an ‘interests’ section to make the CV more personal and human, which should, in my view, comprise one team and one individual sport, an artistic pursuit, and perhaps a note of a charity initiative. If your hobbies consist of, as I saw on the CV of a senior legal candidate, “knitting and watching TV”, I’d strongly suggest you get out more.
As ever, do let me know your thoughts. Drop me a line at paul@localhost