Latest CV Review

I’ve reviewed a CV today that I gave a pretty low score of only 44/100, and the only reason it scored this well was that it was under 2 pages and fulfilled some of the basic section requirements of a CV.

The client rang me to talk through the review and I was genuinely shocked when she told me that she had paid £150 for it to be written by a “professional”. It looked like a CV produced by a job board where you fill in the blanks and choose some random sentences to string it all together! The grammar was appalling with parts of it making no sense at all and at least 3 basic spelling mistakes.

They hadn’t even included a full postal address (something she questioned only to be told “oh, you don’t need that nowadays”), seemingly unaware that recruitment software uses this as part of the mapping and search functionality that allows candidates to be identified geographically.

I often see CVs written by competitors and they generally have improvements that can be made in relation to layout or formatting and even grammar, but I have never seen such an appalling piece of work by a so-called professional CV business. They do have a lovely looking website though.

If you’re paying to have a CV written, please make sure they have a cast iron money back guarantee.

Top 5 CV Mistakes – updated

I see a lot of CVs (several dozen a week) and very few score more than about 60/100 in our free reviews and there is a common thread to the mistakes –

1/ It doesn’t say it’s a CV!

Blindingly obvious but so many people forget to put CV or Curriculum Vitae at the top of their CV. This may seem trivial but it’s supposed to be a professional document that sells you and you forget to put a title on it??

2/  Missing Contact Details

Whether it’s an email address, missing postcode or even no phone number, we see these mistakes every day and not just on CVs from relatively junior people. Without an email address or phone number you’re making the employer or recruiter’s job really quite difficult and a missing postcode often means they can’t register your details on their database.

3/  No Profile

A CV always needs to have a short profile that says what you are. Not a repetition of your CV, but 3-4 lines that summarises what you do. Make it easy for the recruiter to see that this is a CV they need to read as it fits the basic requirements of the role they’re short listing for.

4/  No Key Skills

This is perhaps the most missed out part of a CV and even when it’s there it’s often just a collection of key words that can confuse a recruiter. This is the part of a CV that you can tailor to suit specific applications to highlight why you match what they’re looking for – make sure you get it right and it’ll save a lot of time and get you more interviews.

5/  Dense Text

Have you ever picked up a Charles Dickens novel? How far did you get? Most people get about one third of the way down page 1 and put it back down again because it’s just this solid block of dense text that is way too difficult to commit to reading. Your CV is no different. But death by bullet points isn’t the answer!

Of course we see lots more mistakes than these 5, but if you don’t get these basics right then you’re making your search for a new job an awful lot harder.

Should I put LinkedIn on my CV?

More and more people are registering with LinkedIn and that’s because it is a great networking tool, but should you put it on your CV?

No, is the simple answer.

This goes back to the most basic (and often forgotten) piece of advice on CVs, which is that you must always remember that a CV is to get you an interview.

The 3 reasons not to put LinkedIn on your CV

Firstly, if you need a potential employer to read your LinkedIn profile to reinforce your CV it simply means that your CV is not doing it’s job properly and you need to look at rewriting your CV.

Secondly, consider what happens when someone clicks on that hyper-link on your CV. They stop reading your CV, and you’ve sent them into hyperspace and we all know what happens then. They get distracted and start looking and reading other things and before you know it they’re on Facebook looking at pictures of kittens! Sound familiar?

Thirdly, consider who you’re connected to. People in a similar job to yourself. The competition. And you just led the recruiter right to them.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool and there are things you can use it for in getting yourself noticed but putting it on your CV is not one of them.

Writing a Profile

All good CVs need a profile but they need to be written in a certain way that imparts 2 key pieces of information to the reader.

Firstly, it should be a précis of your experience. This does not mean a repeat of the employment section of your CV but a simple statement about what you are i.e. a Sales Manager; a Programmer; a Primary School Teacher; a Finance Director etc.

Secondly, it needs to say what you want to do. This should be as simple as “I am looking for a new position managing a sales team in the engineering sector”; “I am relocating to Manchester and seeking a post as a Teacher in a 6th form”; “I am looking to make my next career step into a management role” etc.

All too frequently I see profiles that are a simple cut & paste from the internet which are just bland regurgitations from other CVs saying “I am seeking a role to make best use of my existing skills”. If I’m seeing this as a CV writer then you can bet that recruiters and employers are as well, and you need to ask yourself what will they think when they see I have the same thing in my profile as the previous 20 CVs that they’re read?

So, keep your Profile simple and to the point and you won’t go too far wrong.

Does your CV say what job role you’re looking for?

Most CVs ignore this very simple point and it’s why recruiters will contact you about jobs that you’re not remotely interested in.

Recruiters will frequently have found your CV on an on-line database such as Reed or Indeed and think you look suitable for a job role they’re working on. This is based on what you’re doing right now or possibly on your previous job role.

However, you may well be looking to move out of the industry sector you’re in or change career direction completely. So don’t waste your time having to deal with irrelevant contacts from recruiters and put a one-liner in your Personal Profile saying what you’re looking for.

This also applies for direct applications that you make – tell the reader early on in your CV exactly why you’re applying for the job.

How do I describe my job on a CV?

This is an area of a CV that is very easy to get wrong and the vast majority of CVs that we see contain some basic errors when describing job roles. The area I’ll cover in this post is the Header.

The Header:
You need to put yourself in the recruiter or employers shoes and consider what they’re looking for in order of importance.

As an example of this lets look at a salesman working for a BMW car dealership.

As the employee the most important thing to you as an individual is that you work for a BMW Dealer; in Sales; and you’ve been there for 3 years.

But a potential new employer with a job vacancy to fill is looking for someone who works in Car Sales; has 3 years experience; preferably with a prestige brand.

So the way you need to present the information on your CV is:

  • What do you do?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • Who do you do it for?

So it needs to look like this:

Car Sales Executive                               2012 – date

 BMW Lincoln

This may seem a minor point but it’s all part of what makes it easy for an employer or recruiter to quickly understand what you do and whether or not they want to interview you.

In my nest post I’ll cover what comes after the header in more detail.

BBC News – Can digital technology help stamp out CV fraud?

Honesty is the best policy. Unless we happen to be talking about CVs and resumes, it seems.

In 2014, 63% of all the confirmed employment frauds reported to Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, involved people lying about their education, former employment or qualifications.

This has serious consequences for employees and employers alike. But checking the veracity of all claims made on CVs is time-consuming, costly and difficult.

Can technology help? There are piecemeal tools that help with some qualifications, but no over-arching system. For instance, in the UK many universities subscribe to the Higher Education Degree Datacheck system that logs who got what at which university. It can also help unmask bogus universities and colleges.Beyond that, firms have to interrogate search engines and social networks to test people’s CV claims. But education and training giant Pearson thinks it has come up with a way of removing some of this uncertainty.

via BBC News – Can digital technology help stamp out CV fraud?.

Ever been told you’re over-qualified for a job?

This is something that we regularly come across with job applicants being told, or believing, that they are overqualified to be considered for a particular job role.

It’s a simple fact of life that some employers will overlook your CV when sifting through applicants if they feel you are overqualified and, as the candidate, you have to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself the question “What are they worried about?”

The answer is quite simple.

  1. You’re not going to stay in the job they’re looking to fill and they’ll be judged on that by their own boss.
  2. You’re scared of responsibility and just want to “coast” in the job.
  3. Your experience is greater than theirs and you’ll undermine them.

How do you overcome their concerns?

The first thing you have to do is make sure they interview you, and to do that you may well need to edit your CV. This doesn’t mean lying but it does mean some editing down on the level of information in your CV and shifting the focus into a well written Profile and Key Skills section rather than an in-depth and highly detailed career section.

Your potential new employer needs to understand that you are not taking a step down because you’re burnt out or are scared of responsibility, but that you want to enjoy your job and the role they’re looking to fill is the aspect you enjoy most. Selling, for instance, can be a great job where you spend most of your day talking to customers and helping them make a buying decision – and it’s a great buzz! However, being a Sales Manager can be more about the paperwork and that’s not for everyone.

How long will you stay?

Where an employer is concerned that you are not going to stay with them, then you need to convince them that this is not the case and not leave an interview without covering this point. The employer needs to be sold on your enjoyment of this type of role and, as is often the case, why taking a lower paid job is not an issue. Perhaps your children have left home, or you’ve paid off the mortgage (or both!) and there is no longer that need to really push for that extra few thousand.

Are you after my job?

First interviews are often conducted by someone in HR or by a recruiter, but when you meet your potential new boss for the first time one of their biggest concerns is going to be their working relationship with you. Your experience may look threatening and their obvious concern is going to be that you’ll be after their job. Tackle this head on and tell them that you don’t want their job but, if they ask for advice, your experience may be able to benefit them – stress the potential support you might be able to give them.

Finally, plan the Interview

Think hard about the concerns the interviewer is going to have, and plan how to deal with them and how to ensure they’ve really got the message about your aspirations.