You might have had to do a double take on the title of this post when it appeared in your post feed, but I thought I’d talk about another topic today that interests me instead of the usual beauty and lifestyle posts. I’m not sure many people know this but my 9 to 5 is working in HR, more specifically, a recruitment team. I’ve worked in recruitment for nearly two years now. I’ve done the relentless sales recruitment side within a couple of different agencies and now I work in-house for a well known brand. I’ve never really advertised outright what I do day to day but of the people that do know, I do get asked a lot of questions about the topic that I’m about to talk about; CV’s. So I thought I’d do a post about my top CV tips as I know a lot of bloggers are university students that will be looking to begin their career in whatever industry they want to go in to and to apply for those roles, you usually need a CV.
A quick disclaimer before we start… These are not the views of my employer and are all my own etc, etc, etc. These are just my own tips and views after reading at least fifty CV’s a day for the last two years. Also, I’m not saying that there is one way to set your CV out that will guarantee you a job. The person on the other end of every CV is different, as is the person reading it. Everybody has different tastes and styles and you need to find one that works best for you and your experience. So this is just a bit of food for thought really and I hope you enjoy the post and that it helps at least one person.
As a recruiter, this can be one of my biggest bug bears when reading a CV. A poor layout can put the person off your CV before they’ve even read your name. Your layout should be clear and concise; not to word heavy but not to sparse either. Striking the balance can be really difficult. Personally, I’ve always lived by the two page rule. Unless you’re the Head of Finance for a major bank moving on to their fifteenth job, why do you need more that two pages to get your experience down on? I spend 30 seconds reading each CV that comes through, (believe me that is common due to time constraints,) so I want to see the important things without having to search for them. Always put your most recent role at the top of your experience, I won’t care what somebody was doing five years ago, I want to know what they’re doing now.
I personally use this layout for my own CV:
Name and personal details – address, email address (your first name and last name, not email@example.com… JUST NO!!), phone number etc…
Summary – four lines on my skills and why I’m suitable for this career path (tailored for every role)
Education (with most recent first)
Other Skills and Qualifications
Work Experience (with most recent first)
Interests and Hobbies
References on Request
Summary – Don’t harp on about where you see yourself in twenty years with a big house, kids and a high powered job. Like I said earlier, some people don’t spend very long reading each CV due to time constraints. Some people will skip over this topic all together so don’t give it too much room on your page.
Education – This should only be a small section. Keep it clear with your most recent qualification and grade at the top. If you have a university degree or A-levels etc, please don’t list every single GCSE grade you achieved. As a recruiter, I’m not really that bothered about it if you’ve got a good degree mark. A simple line underneath your schools name such as: ’10 GCSE’s including B in Maths and a B in English’ will be sufficient. Also, I don’t need to know what primary school you went too.
Other skills and qualifications – Any other courses you’ve done. Here, I list things like my First Aid certificates and trampolining coaching qualifications but I also list my ability to use google analytics, blogger and wordpress. At the end of the day, these are skills and even if they’re not relevant to your chosen career path, they show diversity, personality and willingness to learn new things. Also don;t forget if you speak any different languages to list them here. Try to keep this list clear and concise. Don’t let it drag on too long, pick your key skills and qualifications that you would be happy to expand on in an interview.
Work Experience – Some people will argue that this should come before education. Like I said earlier, everybody is different and it really is personal preference. This style of CV has just always worked for me but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t put it at the top and education at the bottom. Always, always put your most recent role at the top of the page. Reverse-chronological order is so much easier for a recruiter to read and pick up on. Chances are, it will also be your most relevant experience so why would you want to talk about your first Saturday role in a newsagents if you’re going for a training contract in a solicitors firm before your two weeks of work experience in a firm the summer before you graduated? Exactly.
One thing I would like to mention here is absolutely put your blog on your CV under work experience (career path permitting, I never use to do it when I was training to be a solicitor as for me, it wasn’t appropriate). I know a lot of bloggers want to go into fashion or marketing and for these paths there is no reason not to mention it. It is afterall, an achievement running a blog alongside full time work/ being a student. If you’re going to put it in your experience though you need to make it sound professional. I have mine in like this:
Jan 2012 – Present lilmisschickas | UK Lifestyle and Beauty Blog
Founder and Editor
Then add a brief description. I’ve found my blog to be a great talking point in interviews, but again use your own judgement. Some employers will like it, some won’t.
Interests and hobbies – Don’t lie, chances are the person sitting across from you in interview could have the same hobby and then basically you’re screwed. Also keep it brief, just like this section…
References – Some people think it is essential to list two references on you CV. Not the case. Sometimes you many not have any room for them without going over on to a new page or you may not have sorted out your references yet. A simple ‘References on Request’ right at the end of your CV is sufficient. Employers usually request them after offering you a role anyway so there is really no need for them before then. If an employer is asking for a reference before offering you a role, procede with caution and use your common sense. Don’t put your current employer on there because if you don’t get the role, chances are they’re won’t be too thrilled that you’re looking elsewhere. I’d like to say that it wouldn’t change their attitude towards you but come on lets be real, chances are, it probably will. Also, NEVER EVER put somebody down as a reference without asking their permission first; it’s just rude.
A few other points to note:
Spelling and Grammar: I’m the first person to admit that my spelling and grammar is poor, it has been since I was a child. I’m sure if you were to look back throughout this post you would find a lot of mistakes but my CV is immaculate. I have always had others check it for me to help me correct it. Many employers find mistakes on CV unforgivable so check your CV a thousand times if necessary and always ask somebody else to proof read it for you.
Date of Birth/Age/Nationality/Gender – You don’t have to put this information on your CV if you don’t want to. It is against the law for employers to discriminate on any of the above.
Social Media/Blog Address – As I said earlier, I think that you should put your blog on your CV if you feel it is an achievement. I’ve also noticed that it is becoming more and more common for people to put their twitter handle on there for employers to nosy at. If you are going to do this please make sure your social media profiles are up to scratch aka not filled with racist abuse, swearing or other things that would be big no-no’s to employers. A side note on this is please make sure your facebook profile is private because I have known employers not offer on the basis of somebody’s Facebook photos. I’ve also known of a case where a ladies CV did not match the dates on her LinkedIn profile and the employer thought she was trying to be dishonest there too. Social media can be a great tool, but it can also be your worst enemy while trying to job hunt. While we are talking about LinkedIn, I recommend getting an account. If you don’t know what it is, LinkedIn is a professional social media website that focuses more on peoples work background. I know a lot of recruiters use it to approach people who would be suitable for their role without even placing an advert so it can be really beneficial. In my opinion, LinkedIn is strictly a professional network. It is not a Facebook or Twitter, nobody cares about new babies on there, it’s all about jobs and the job market.
So that is it, just a quick insight into CV’s from somebody who reads CV’s all day every day. Like I said earlier there is no ‘one way’ of writing your CV, everybody is different so please don’t think if you follow all this advice you will be guaranteed a job. Of course if you have any other questions, please feel free to email me and if you’d like me to do a post on any other topics such as interview tips or assessment days then please let me know below 🙂
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