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A good CV or not a good CV. That is the question…

9th December 2013 by Adam Toctan

A good CV or not a good CV. That is the question…

So you have decided that you hate your job. Getting up early in the morning and hitting the ‘snooze’ function is starting to bug you, and you have twigged that turning up at work hung-over from drinking your sorrows away the night before is not winning you any favours with your boss. The result... you need a new job.

In the world of My Face, Twitter Book or whatever all these new-fangled ways of communicating across the world wide web are do not under estimate the power of the humble curriculum vitae; or ‘CV’ as it’s known to all the kool kids. And yes. I did write cool with a ‘k’...

Staring an open Word Document is tough. Putting essentially your life to date (mine is an impressively youthful 31 years) onto an industry recommended 2 pages is even tougher. Under ‘Awards / Achievements’ do I actually put my 50m Swimming Badge & 2nd Place in Archery Achievement down. The answer is No... These are the simple ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of CV writing summed up in a few concise paragraphs:

This may sound like an obvious first starting point... Choose a good clear font! Ariel / Calibri work well. In terms of the font size I would have the content as a size 10 and any headings and titles a size 11 or 12 as a maximum. Some candidates write a short synopsis or personal profile; I think that this is actually quite a good idea. It allows the reader to gain an insight into your personality, what drives you and what you are looking for... Make it clear, concise and around 3-4 lines long.

Next I would look at education. Education is KEY if you are junior. Anyone with 1-5 years should highlight this on their CV. Shout if you have a 1st / Masters! If you have a 2:1 that’s good too. Moving to A-Levels and GCSE’s only put your grades if you are a straight A student. If not; ‘3 A levels / 11 GCSE’s including Maths and English’ will suffice. If you are more experienced; say Senior Account Manager and above then just add the degree you took, University attended and the grade you achieved.

Now we move onto your career / work experience. This needs to be well laid out and easy to read and understand for the client. I would write the Agency / Company you are at now and their location. For example; Interbrand, London. Follow this with the date of employment; Month and year is fine. Underneath this add your title. Don’t write all the various positions you have held if you have held more than one role. Put the title you are working at currently. If you have held various positions you can explain this to the recruiter or to the client at interview stage. After this add a brief two line synopsis of what your company does. Not everyone will know what every business does and you should never assume. Follow this with a brief synopsis of your role. Imagine you are describing your duties to someone in a lift and you have 20 seconds to sum up your role. This gives a good indication to what you do on a daily basis, how big your team is, who you report into, and perhaps your key clients. This then allows us to move onto what will really ‘sell you’ ... Your key achievements.

With ‘Key Achievements’ it allows the reader to understand the level you work at. The areas that you feel highlight your career and to a degree allow the client to imagine you replicating these duties within their business. If you have been at a business 2-3 years you should have around 3 key achievements. One that is perhaps your largest client, one that was particularly tough, and perhaps one that highlights your ability to grow and develop an account. Include numbers / statistics. This enables the client to understand what level you operate at and that you can bring this level of business to their agency.

Finally end with interests / achievements... Clients want to employ people with a personality. People who are fun outside of work as much as they are capable in doing their job. If you enjoy Zorbing and have attended every global music festival in Europe shout about it!

Oh... One last thing. READ and SPELL CHECK your CV. It’s unacceptable to have grammatical errors and words spelt incorrectly. This will automatically mean that your ‘carefully constructed’ CV ends up in the bin. Happy CV writing!

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