Writing CVs

  1. Never lie or break the law. That includes the time you take for interviewing – taking a day off sick to go to an interview is defrauding a current employer – take it as holiday or other legitimate means
  2. If you ask 100 people an opinion on your CV, they will give you 100 answers. Remember the core of what you are attempting to represent, take valued opinions but stick to your guns. Review regularly
  3. Think before posting ANY form of CV on the internet, whatever the forum; check your facts and dates carefully; do not betray any confidences (always seek permission to disclose) and do not break a contractual confidentiality
  4. Be prepared to back up information with further data
  5. Respect your own information as confidential and assert your right to confidentiality with all parties – you have legal rights which you should investigate fully. Specifically forbid your CV to be circulated without your permission – many recruiters use ‘catch all’ questions to get your permission, ‘is it OK to pass your details on to someone who might be interested in having a chat?’. Ensure that your permission is sought in each case that you CV is sent out – this keeps you in control of YOUR document
  6. Don’t .pdf your CV file – recruiters use word searches (which don’t work with .pdf) and they also find it maddening to have to re-type your CV from scratch
  7. Don’t swear, use ****ing abbreviations or use inappropriate pet names in any form – including in your email address. If your email address is not appropriate for job hunting, get a new free email address (like googlemail) to use for that purpose.
  8. Put your name on your CV for the record, but make clear your given name, even if it is an appropriate nick name i.e. John J Goodyear (Bert) or John (Johnny) J Goodyear. Even recruiters like to get to know you a little and this acceptable familiarity builds rapport and avoids the need for you to correct someone using an incorrect term of address
  9. Never use ‘in’ language particular to a specific organisation – by being exclusive to it, the language makes you an outsider to everyone else

Points to note:

  1. Consider whether to use first person (I) or third person (he); the latter is more usual although both is permissible
  2. If at all possible and practicable, use the medium requested by the recruiter to send your CV i.e. don’t send it by letter if they have asked for it by email; try to comply with recruiters’ reasonable requests but remember they also have a duty of care to you – you can also make reasonable requests and should at all times let you know where you stand
  3. Your full name, address and date of birth are items of information with which your identity can be stolen. It is not necessary to use most of this with an initial CV sent through to a new contact, even a recruitment company, until you have established trust
  4. The personal profile is an opportunity to set the context of your employment history in an aspirational light – use it
  5. It is important that people understand where they are calling you (i.e. have you given them a home or work number) – they need to take care if your employer does not know that you are leaving
  6. Using a basic font (Times New Roman or Arial) makes sure that most readers of your CV will have your font on their system and therefore it will appear as you wrote it on their screens; likewise using .rtf documents which are compatible with all forms of WORD. Keep the font interesting if possible but not over-elaborate. Check jurisdictional differences carefully i.e. use of photos.
  7. The information in the example footer (see top of page) ensures that the date that the CV was printed (if applicable), your contact details and your name are on EACH PAGE – the documents can easily get muddled or lost once printed so this is a good safeguard. Bear in mind that some recruiters may view your CV on screen in ‘draft’ view which does not show the footer
  8. Log your activity carefully, including any intermediary details. Log which version of your CV you used, on what date and what covering letter you sent. Consider using a random version referencing system so that people cannot guess how long you have been job hunting!
  9. Say you will follow up when you send your CV and then do so unless you receive correspondence asking you specifically not to