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09th October, 2020
Do you like writing CVs and cover letters? Of course not, it sucks.
It’s just not a very enticing prospect, is it? Even the most eloquent of creative writers have a hard time.
It’s not that it’s hard to come up with a list of jobs you’ve done before, at the most basic level. Not hard at all, but it’s a chore. And that’s keeping things as simple as they can be. Minimum effort. If we want to talk about making a compelling CV…who has the time? Or more importantly, the enthusiasm? Ugh. I’ll do it later.
“BUT WAIT!”, you cry. “This doesn’t sound like advice! I came here for advice!”
You’re absolutely right! This is an advice blog, and advice we have. Here are four tips for writing CVs that should make it a little less daunting.
ADVICE ONE – READ OTHER PEOPLES CVS
Research! See how other people do the thing, and then do the thing. Simple as that.
Find out what other people tend to include, the level of detail and how they try to highlight certain aspects depending on the role. Take some of that insight and apply it to your own CV.
Most people will stick to a standard formula – short personal profile, some key skill bullet points, and some condensed info on each job role. But depending on the field you’re trying to get into, the standard can vary a lot! Recruiters for creative roles may prefer to have a little more style and personality in a CV, for one example. By the same token, if you’re going for something that requires a portfolio, you’ll likely be sending across a whole doc packet and a much more detailed resumé than someone going for customer service.
So find out how successful people in your field did it and do the same!
ADVICE TWO – KEEP IT SIMPLE
“Simple” is probably not the best word. “Concise” is really what we’re driving at here.
This means a couple of things. Firstly, try and keep it to as few pages as possible. If there’s one thing a recruiter doesn’t enjoy, it’s getting a novel when they asked for a CV. We’re talking two to three pages at maximum. Get to the point and make it the one that matters.
Secondly, tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for! You don’t need to have details of every single job you’ve ever worked at on there – Just the relevant ones. If you’re going for something sales-y, really highlight all the sales roles you’ve had before, and keep the info on the other jobs to a minimum. We’re talking job title and dates – they don’t need to hear the full saga of your hairdressing apprenticeship to assess whether you’ll be great at selling phones.
Also, generally speaking – recruiters tend to focus on the last five to ten years of your work history. So, if your work history goes back further, and you’ve already listed all your relevant experience – good news! You get use one of my favourite sentences: “Further employment history available upon request”.
ADVICE THREE – CHEAT OUTRAGEOUSLY
Still struggling? Lucky for you, there are a bunch of resources available to help you out, some hidden in plain sight!
The humble Microsoft Word program. Stalwart industry standard. Installed as default in virtually all Windows PCs. Simple. Timeless. Brave.
“Just a fancy typewriter, yeah?”
Open up a Word document and click “Review” in the top toolbar. Now head over to the right, and… What’s that? That’s right. CV assistant, powered by Linkedin.
This tool is your new best friend.
Just type the job title of what you’re applying for in the “Role” field, and up will come a list of CVs from Linkedin’s archive tailored for exactly that, all ripe and ready for a spot of shameless plagiarism.
Scroll down a little further, and it gives you a list of top skills to consider, so take these into consideration when fleshing out your profile!
Scroll down just a touch more and… would you look at that? More articles to help you write your CV, each more lovely and beautifully written than the last.
What a time to be alive.
ADVICE FOUR – MORE THAN TWO EYES
My last point is far simpler than the others, but it’s worth stating over and over – When you think you’ve got a good CV all finished and ready to go, get another human to read it. Please. Proofreading is absolutely essential.
Let me tell you a story – A man finds himself on some hard times. He’s an experienced professional with plenty to offer any employer, smart guy with references coming out of his ears. He has what he thinks is a solid CV and has absolutely no idea why he hasn’t heard from any employers. He’s a good fit for everything, right? It’s been weeks and he’s getting nervous.
On a dare, he passes his CV to his good buddy at the jobcentre, just to see if they can figure out what he could possibly be doing wrong. His buddy passes it back within ten seconds.
One thing is circled. His contact details. Specifically, his email address.
Get people to proofread your CVs, folks.
If only there were some sort of professional one could contact for such a service. Someone to give you the “Full Picture”, as it were. Someone you could call on 01489 667 033 or email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for all kinds of employment and recruitment advice.