A CV is a sales tool, it is designed to present your strengths to a potential employer and demonstrate the benefits an organisation will receive by having you on board. Are people as quick to judge your CV as they are to judge you in person?
Are you being judged?
The reality is yes – you do only have a few seconds to make a first impression either in writing or face to face. So does making your CV stand out mean you are more likely to secure an interview?
Standing out from the crowd – good or bad idea?
I followed a recent discussion in The Yorkshire Mafia group on Linkedin, about CVs and people perceptions when they receive them. One of the major talking points was the use of comic sans as a chosen font. The majority of people in the discussion said an overwhelming no to this font- ok if you are 5 years old and writing a poem, not so good if you are CEO of a major organisation. Then came the back lash on “judging a book by its cover” are people right to make an assumption straight away? What do you think?
The honest is answer is if your CV stands out to a potential employer for the wrong reason then they are unlikely to get past the first paragraph and read more. Times New Roman also received negativity being deemed old fashioned and dull. Arial or Calibri are both acceptable fonts- ensure that the font size is around 11 to enable your audience to read it clearly.
People have made their CV stand out in even bigger ways – I once received a CV on a piece of Perspex- it as a beautiful piece of work. It stood out to me, but what also stood out was that the candidate’s heart lay elsewhere – she wanted to be a graphic designer but was looking for an alternative role until she landed her dream career. If I had been looking for someone in graphic design she would have got an interview. Other candidates have used garish paper to ensure their CV is spotted.
Curriculum, Ciraculam, Cer……
Most people are fairly familiar with what a CV is and what job it is supposed to do. Many people still feel the need to title the document, many misspelling Curriculum Vitae. Another chance to scupper the all important first impressions a potential employer forms. It’s about you so ensure that your name stands out, although adding a picture is a no no in the UK job market. Check the spelling throughout the CV – it is easy to miss a word – get someone else to proof read it.
Forget the life story
Remember this is not a life story but a tool to open the door to interview opportunities. I met with a recruiter recently who said, “I don’t change incorrect spellings on a CV – I wouldn’t want to hood wink my client”. Certainly food for thought.
Content, Content, Content
One of my recent clients recently came to me with a CV that was underselling him. It started talking about his success as head boy (he was in his 50’s), then each position he had held was nothing more than a job spec. He listed responsibilities rather than achievements. As a nation we are not renowned for selling ourselves but in this market we have to. When we worked together to re-write it he was amazed by the difference. It pitched him at the right senior level and he said “I don’t recognise myself”. There was not a hint of over exaggeration on the document, we simply highlighted his achievements and presented them in a much clearer way. How are you supposed to know how to create a Senior Level CV when you may never have even seen one?
Keep your CV objective and truthful
The reason it is simple for someone like me to write the CV is objectivity. I see each person as a product rather than being personally involved. This ensures a CV can be more positive and powerful and easier for both recruiters and potential employers to understand you. If you lie on a CV there is a good chance you will be found out – keep it simple and truthful. Have you ever been caught out lying on your CV?
Top CV Tips
1. Be honest but do sell yourself!
2. Check your spelling and grammar
3. List achievements as opposed to responsibilities
4. Use a mainstream font and layout- stand out for the right reasons
5. Look at your achievements objectively- who would want to buy you?