[the] course of [my] life
(Latin for "course of life")
Your CV has a few precious seconds to create interest about you and your career.
Information Technology is likely to be less affected than most sectors with regard to job losses since the Corona virus hit. Normally it only gets noticed when things go wrong, so if there is an upside at least IT departments have been able to shine by enabling companies to carry on functioning. Even so, all the time that companies of any kind have been closing, IT professionals will be losing jobs, so the competition for advertised roles will be tougher. So it makes sense to make your CV stand out (in a good way).
A CV has a few precious seconds to create interest about you and your career.
Surprisingly few CV’s do this successfully, and as a result really good candidates can end up in the reject pile. As a small agency we make a point of contacting most candidates who send in CV’s (assuming it isn’t for a bricklayer going for a CTO role - nothing against bricklayers, some of my closest friends are bricklayers :-)), so we get to see a slightly fuller picture of the individual.
The information below is purely based on our experience in the real world and not meant to be gospel. Please remember that HR managers are human and will favour a certain style over another so this is not an exact science and of course there are also big differences in preparing a CV straight out of Uni compared to an experienced IT Manager.
The good news is that most just need a bit of thought and work to completely transform their success rate.
Be the Employer
Before you start, sit down and imagine you are the employer with a pile of CV’s to look through. I’m not sure if is true, but it is said the average CV gets 6 seconds to get its message across. Be generous and bearing in mind you have just ‘read’ ten others, give yourself 10 seconds to read your CV. More realistically, get a friend to do it. Did you see the important stuff, what stood out? Keep re-visiting this technique every time you make changes to it.
Tailor the CV to the role
Bearing in mind that your next career move is likely to have a significant impact on your life, it’s worth spending some time tuning your CV to the job specification you are applying for. This just means looking at the focus of the spec in terms of skills & attributes, and assuming you have those just give them a higher ranking in your CV and perhaps bold the text.
Two pages, maybe three tops
The most common thing we see is that CV’s are just too long. People find this hard to believe, particularly with a long career history or a lot of experience and qualifications to show, but you must aim to get it to two pages. Long paragraphs of text just don’t get read, so ruthlessly go through them and take out anything that doesn’t need to be there. Now do it again. Your most recent and relevant (to the job spec) experience is what to focus on, a load of text about a role you had fifteen years ago probably isn’t necessary.
Mind the Gap
Gaps in your career or short periods of employment always ring alarm bells on a CV, particularly where they have happened recently. Contract roles are common in IT, so if that is the reason for a short spell with a company you must say so (next to the dates). At a glance this explains the situation to the CV reader.
Similarly, if you have a break between jobs to further your education – say so! It’s a positive thing.
Don’t include Age or Date of Birth
You’re not trying to hide anything, but why let someone consciously or sub-consciously discriminate against you. Besides it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have a good guess at your age from some of the dates on your CV.
Your photograph on your CV – No.
I’m sure you’re very handsome/beautiful, and there is bound to be a correct term for prejudice against less attractive (or too attractive) people, but you don’t need a photo on your CV in the UK. Besides, you would normally have one on your LinkedIn profile.
Text size, fonts and colour
Simple, easy to read fonts such as Calibri or Arial are best. Fancy fonts are just difficult to read. The body of your CV should be between 10 and 12 point font, and your headings between 14 and 18 points. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, don’t reduce them too much or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.
Don’t use coloured text, it nearly always makes it more difficult to read and can appear tacky.
Save your CV as a PDF which will give consistent formatting for the reader.
Treat your name as the title rather than ‘CV’.
Email address, phone number, town and County is enough detail, you no longer need to write your full address.
If the job you are applying for is a long way from where you live, but you are prepared to re-locate – say so!
Think about relevance. If you have a degree that needs to go in, but GCSE’s etc probably aren’t relevant and definitely don’t need to be listed out unless perhaps you are fresh out of Uni. No matter how proud you are of your grade C GCSE in woodwork, it’s not gonna’ land you that CTO job so please leave it out.
If you speak other languages, list them. It shows a breadth of character.
No biggie but if you have one say so. It may be relevant to your commute (some companies are hard to get to by public transport) or the job may require you to visit clients sites
(Relevant) Professional Qualifications
Don’t be modest; if relevant these need to be clearly seen. We’ve seen perfectly relevant qualifications like CCNP hidden in paragraphs of text.
Linkedin is generally accepted to be the best platform to ‘network’ on for jobseekers. It is of course infested with unscrupulous recruitment agencies like us who hassle you when you aren’t looking for a job. Google most names and one of the first entries will be their Linkedin page, which shows it’s power.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to make the most of Linkedin but I will simply say this, make you profile match your CV. It will be one of the first places that employers will find you & they get very suspicious when the CV in front of them has one less or more job on it than the Linkedin profile.
Hobbies, Interests, volunteering
Keep it short & sweet; don’t lie but try to keep it interesting. This is a glimpse of your personality. Quirky is always good as it can relax the interview. My daughters first ever interview wasn't going too well until they noticed she had been ‘Santa’s little helper’ on the local Santa Special Steam Train. It broke the ice & the interviewer laughed; she relaxed & got the job. Again if you were 'Santa's Little Helper' but you're going for a senior management role - best to leave it off.
Involvement in charity work or volunteering etc is definitely worth mentioning.
Spelling & Grammar
Yep I know, really obvious right. But you have looked at your CV until you are blind so probably won't see the mistakes. One thing to decide upon is whether you are happy with the US spelling that auto correct will put in for you. Personally I prefer British spelling, but 'Z's rather than 'S's are becoming more acceptable.
That aside, if you are totally confident just offer a friend £20 for every mistake they can find.
it sounds obvious but save your CV with a sensible file name - 'Fred Bloggs CV May 2020'