CV’s – The basics do matter!

28 Oct 2016 | Naomi Marshall

2 facts:

  1. As a recruiter I see hundreds of CV’s a week (no surprises there)
  2. Every day I see CV’s that are disappointing

There I said it. It’s out there and if I’m really honest with you there are some that are WAY worse than ‘disappointing’…  and it’s not just from junior or less experienced candidates. Senior candidates eg, those with a lot more experience in the workforce and letting themselves down in this department.

However, the positive point here is that it can be corrected/amended/adjusted very quickly. The first step is simply identifying that you need to make some adjustments.

Here are 5 tips regarding some of the very basic parts to ensuring your CV won’t let you down during the recruitment process:

1. Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation DOES matter. Especially for senior EA’s who will be expected to represent their bosses and company brands with a high volume of written communication. Remember that whilst you may feel your CV is only a paper or soft copy document of your experience and once they meet you then you will really shine. The truth is it’s the very first thing a potential employer or recruiter will see.

You may have looked at your CV 20 times, a recruiter/employer will look at it once. Often for less than 1 minute. If there are errors, trust me they will pick them up in a nano-second. Please take the time to stop and read each line. Ask a friend/old boss/respected business operator to glance over it for you if you are still worried that it’s not perfect.

2. Your CV is a work in progress. Formats and layouts change as years go on. You can’t exect t create a document then keep adding roles to it as the years go one. What looked modern and up to date 5 years ago can look very outdated now (eg the Times New Roman font v’s Calibri). Fonts and style guides change. Great fonts can be downloaded easily for free now so take advantage and put in a small amount of effort for an effective result.

There is so much great information on the net now about good CV layouts. Start searching and do your own research. Make the effort as the end result is your livelihood. Isn’t that worth making the effort for?

3. ALWAYS PDF your CV. That way you know that what the reader receives is exactly what you created. If you have put in the effort to stylise your CV and then send it through as a Word document the formatting and fonts can change.

I know that a lot of recruiters want to receive your CV in a Word document. That’s simply because they want to reformat your CV into their own report format if they send it to a client. Have a word doc of your CV ready to go in case they request it (or tell them to buy the right Adobe software to convert a PDF back to work – or maybe I’m just being cheeky).

4. With dates, you don’t really need to include the day of the month that you started and finished but you should definitely include the month. Eg January 2015 – March 2016. This shows me that you worked there for 14 months. If you only had 2015 – 2016, what does tell me? You could have worked there for anywhere between 24 months – 2 months, or any amount of time in between.

Often I hear a candidates say “but I was only there for a short period of time and I don’t want to draw attention to it”.  Well in that case it’s going to come out eventually when a recruiter/employer asks you the correct dates so be on the front foot and put the months in, then include reasons for leaving on every position.

5. The final one is regarding the tense you use to speak to your audience. Eg Present, Past or Future. Eg if you are in a role currently you should communicate in present tense and if it’s a role you have left then you should use Past tense.

In addition, remember that every time you add a new role onto your CV also include an end date for the role previously (eg the role you have just left). I often see the wording ‘present/current’ listed for the most current role and also the one before it. I know this has simply been an oversight and the candidate has missed updating it. However, again take the time to ensure this is correct and don’t allow a recruiter/employer to correct you!
There are so many other factors to consider when putting your CV together and these points only outline very some of the very small details. Many CV’s are very good however, with a couple of small tweaks they can still be elevated to a higher level.

Take 5 minutes to triple check your own CV and ensure you are confident it’s the most professional reflection of you and your experience that it can be.


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