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Tuesday 17 June 2014

Free CV advice

I'm recruiting at work at the moment- not just for one post, but two. It's amazing how much time it takes up when you're also trying to do a day job, which explains my general lack of online presence. Anyway, after many, many years of firing, it's really, really nice to actually be hiring again, so I'm definitely not complaining.

Having been in the job seeking game myself relatively recently, it's also kind of weird to see the other side of the equation.

When I was made redundant, I was incredibly lucky that my old employer gave me access to the services of an outplacement company, with a very lovely lady called Mary who cajoled me, gave me great advice and, perhaps most importantly, ripped my CV apart and helped me build it back up again to land my current job.

However, not all job seekers are lucky enough to have a Mary looking out for them, and for some that's glaringly obvious.

What started off in my head as a somewhat sarcastic post about the benefits of spell check has therefore morphed into something that I hope might be of help, especially those at the beginning of the greasy career pole. Here, therefore, my tips if you want a head start for a job with me:

1) Spell check is your friend. I know, I know, this wasn't supposed to be a snarky post about poor grammar and punctuation, however,  the squiggly lines in MS Word are there for a reason. Use them.

2) Spell check is your enemy. Yes, I'm contradicting myself. The thing is, while spell check will pick up obvious mistakes, it won't help you with the times you've used the wrong word completely. Do you really mean you have a friendly manor? Were you really a team manger? And if you don't know the difference between effect and affect (and I confess I've had to look it up plenty of times), a dictionary can be handy. Or, yaknow, Google. Another pair of trusted eyes can often be a Godsend with this one.

3) Employment history usually goes backwards. Jumping from present to past to present again is REALLY confusing for somebody reading it.

4) On a similar note, be clear about which tense you are using. Current tense is fine if you're talking about what you're doing at the moment, but sounds odd when you're talking about the student job you had in 1998.

Which leads me on to...

5) It's OK to shorten older stuff if it's not relevant to what you're doing now....


6) it's generally best to keep it short. Whilst there are exceptions, 2 pages is still generally ideal. I've had over 30 applications for one job alone, and if you ramble on, I'm afraid you've lost me at page 3, so frankly pages 4 and 5 are just a waste of ink and paper.


7) that doesn't mean you should use really, really small font squashed ridiculously closely together in order to keep to the two page limit. I'm not as young as I used to be and squinting gives me a headache.

8) Also, swapping fonts halfway through doesn't look interesting and modern, it just looks careless and confused.

9) Write your name at the top of page 1 and make it BIG. It'll ensure I get your name right if you do make it to interview.

Oh, and finally, do try and get my name right if we finally get to meet. Repeatedly calling me Janet when I've already corrected you probably isn't the best way to impress a potential employer.

It's not that hard, really... Good luck!


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