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.

Contact Details

Such a “comedy basic” – but make sure you have all your contact details on your CV.

We see so many that are missing either a mobile number or an email address. You must have both on a CV or you are just making the recruiters job harder, and if you do that – guess what? That’s right, they contact someone else.

Make sure you have the following on the top of your CV:

  • Full postal address
  • Mobile phone number – see this post for more!
  • E-mail address

Email Address on a CV

This is so blindingly obvious.

Recruiters now communicate in so many way but email is probably second only to the mobile phone.

Make sure your email address is on your CV and preferably hyper-linked.

Covering Letters

“Should I send a covering letter with my CV?” is a question that we are frequently asked.

The simple answer is yes.

Even when you are applying on-line it is always advisable to use a covering letter.

They are a means of highlighting your application and of bringing forward certain skills or experience that you possess with particular relevance to the role.

We provide a covering letter pack that contains 3 example covering letters and a simple guide of how to really read what a job advert is saying, and then tailor a covering letter accordingly.

If you ask us to write your CV we will include this guide and the example letters as part of the package at no extra cost.

Click on Covering Letters for more information.

Answering Machines & Messages

If you are in the job market it is important that you make it as easy as possible for a recruiter or employer to contact you.

So make sure that you have:

1. An answering machine on your home number – you can use the free service from your phone provider such as 1571 from BT.

2. That your mobile has the answering machine set up.

If possible you should personalise any greeting with your name because the recruiter needs to be sure that they have left a message for the right person!

Identity Theft from CV Information

We have been asked by a number of clients about the risk of using on-line services in relation to identity theft.

The main issue that seems to concern people is that they are potentially putting a lot of private information into the public domain and how this can be used against them. In relation to your CV there is not a great deal to be worried about, provided you keep it to the same level of information that can be found on the electoral roll, namely:

Name – full name, though middle names are not essential.

Address – including postcode. The postcode is used by many of the on-line databases as a search reference point, so it is essential to put it on your CV.

Date of Birth – don’t try to hide your age, it’s generally counter-productive.

Don’t put your National Insurance number on there (we see this a lot from South Africans who have emigrated to the UK) or your mothers maiden name, or the name of your pet!

Another one to seriously avoid is putting your place of birth on your CV as this is frequently used as a security question by companies on the ‘phone and on-line.

CV Writing – Contact Details

This is a repetition of a previous post , but it is so important and so many people still get it wrong.

Make sure that you put the following on your CV:

1. Home telephone number

2. Mobile number

3. Home email address

We are still seeing a lot of CVs without this basic information. In fact some that get sent to us have no contact details on, and the only way we are able to contact people is by tracking back on the email address they used when uploading their CV!

Recruiters and employers need to be able to get hold of you quickly. Make life easy for them!