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Writing A CV

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A Curriculum Vitae or CV is summarised as a chronological summary of your academic awards and work experience. The ultimate goal of a CV is to get you an interview for the job you have applied for! Nothing more nothing less! There are many different styles and formats and as a Recruitment Consultant I have seen the good, bad and ugly! This article will help you to create a CV that will get you noticed as well as help avoid some of the pitfalls and common mistakes I regularly see!


Firstly limiting a CV to two pages is a myth – unless you are asked to produce a resume, which is more common in the US and rarely exceeds two pages of A4. In the UK CV’s can be longer and the general rule I suggest when asked is that you are allowed a page a decade you have existed on the planet! However I would suggest that after the fourth page most recruiters will be getting bored.


The style is important, as is the font and general page layout. UK CV’s should be created in Word Format (PDF’s, HTML are not compatible with some HR systems that log and manage applications). It should be created as portrait and it’s best to avoid point sizes lower than 9. Fonts that have high impact are Arial, Franklin Gothic, and Tahoma, as opposed to Times New Roman which is a default font for most MS programmes. Start with your name, address and contact details at the top of the CV. Do not include your Date of Birth, sex, or religion and state whether you are married or single or whether you have any dependants.


Career summary – I could write a whole article on whether one should include a ‘Career Summary’. Personally, I never read them as they all sound the same: -


A resourceful, confident and commercially astute business leader with experience across a range of markets with an emphasis on delivering results in mail order, direct marketing and CRM” - Does this describe a top Marketing Director in a leading Mail Order company? Not at all – it’s me!  My point on this is that they are too generic so a waste of time.


Content is king in a CV – but basically the rule of thumb is the more senior you become the more commercially aware you should be, so your CV must include your recognition of your efforts to improve profitability/margin/revenue.


The CV’s that impress me most are those that give a brief description of the business (including turnover, number of employees), your job title, a summary of the role and an emphasis on achievements i.e. what you have directly contributed to either the business or the team you work in.


When you come to prepare your CV the most recent roles are the ones you focus on in terms of content and description. If you started your career as an Account Executive 15 years ago, then it really is not necessary to put down all you did back then. (you’d be surprised at how many CV’s I get that do!). Don’t worry about gaps - career breaks, redundancy – a good recruiter will spot them and will either (usually) dismiss them, or note them and explore at the interview stage. Check for typing errors – my rule of thumb is three mistakes and you’re out – some of my clients are stricter! There is nothing wrong in ‘tweaking’ a CV to make it more pertinent to the role you are applying for.


Finally, detail your education – which college or University you went as well as your Secondary school. If you attained a 1st or 2.1 at University then put that down too, whatever level of seniority you are.


Finally include some personal details or extra curricula activity. “Reading, eating out, socialising” are what most people put down and given that is what 90% of the UK population do in any event it is not relevant. Very few people I meet have no hobby or ‘interesting’ interest. E.g. not many people know that I am a World renowned expert  on late 70’s Disco and Dance music and my opinions on particular artists and tracks is sought globally by recording artists, DJ’s and radio stations! I can all hear you saying I want to meet this man!