Spelling…

I just found a spelling mistake on the website.

It must have been there for at least 6 months. I’d spelled “thought” as “though”, and of course, the spell checker doesn’t pick that up :(

I’m going to sit in the corner and cry in shame.

CV or Curriculum Vitae?

I get asked occasionally whether it’s better to put CV or Curriculum Vitae on a CV, and I always tell people that it doesn’t really matter, just so long as you spell it correctly!

Lately I’ve seen a lot of CVs that don’t have either on them. This is a simple mistake to make, and you might think it doesn’t matter as it’s perfectly obvious what it is, but it does matter.

Employers and recruiters expect to see it, so if they don’t, it means that something (even on a subliminal level) is wrong, and you can’t afford for them to think like that when they’re looking at your CV.

One final point, is that if you write a word in capital letters then spell checker will ignore it…

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.

Lunch or Job?

When is a role not a roll?

I’m seeing this so often at the moment and it’s getting annoying!

A “roll” is something you have for lunch or breakfast as in a “bacon roll” or a “ham roll” but a job is a “role”.

I see this on CVs that cover the whole spectrum of job roles, whether it’s an office junior or even a main board director, and it smacks of poor attention to detail.

You can’t rely on spell checkers as they will not pick this up – it’s not a spelling mistake, it’s just a mistake.

Please, for the sake of my sanity…

How long should a CV be?

When I review a CV this is the first issue that I look at, as it is an immediate determination of how good the CV is going to be regardless of content or style. Too long and it won’t get read, too short and the recruiter is left wondering where the rest of the CV got to!

I’ve always maintained that 2 pages is ideal but that going into a 3rd page is not really a big issue – provided it’s good content!

A recent survey by Reed asked their recruiters how long a CV should be and their results back up what I’ve always believed.

A comprehensive 90% of recruiters said that 2-3 pages was ideal, with just 6% opting for 1 page and 3% saying that 4 pages was the correct length.

So, as with many things in life, size does matter. Get it right and you’re in with a chance – get it wrong and your CV may end up in the rejection file.