Wednesday, November 18, 2009

what you shouldn't put in your CV

I blame Microsoft Wizard and the nuns for bad CV advice.
Microsoft; they have templates which people think are modern and hey its MS so it must be cool?
But then millions of people out there have copied their fairly ordinary templates and so now half the world has the same looking CV; you know the one, with the huge margin to the left?

And the nuns...don't get me started on what people have told me about what the nuns recommended.

The good news is there's lots of stuff you don't need to put on your CV. Let's start with the don'ts.
Stuff like your date of birth, marital status, health status, number of kids, your primary or secondary schools and if you're over 25 you don't need to list your leaving cert results, let alone your junior or inter results. Most people wrongly believe that your CV should be a detailed history of your life and if you don't account for every job, they might think you were in jail for that period.
Yes you have to cover your tracks...but you can do that quickly, without the detail. Similarly you shouldn't bore them with narrative; i.e. paragraphs that start with: During my time at xyz company I was involved in a variety of roles.

That is just so dull, uninteresting and tells you nothing. Avoid that awful word 'various' and 'etc' which looks like you can't be bothered finishing a sentance.

There's no valid exscuse for having a CV that exceeds 2 pages. Not ever.
You're only meant to give a brief outline of achievements, without giving the game away. The lack of detail is what stirs interest in you and entices an interviewer to want to meet you to find out how you did what you claim.

Most interviews nowadays focus on specific incidents where you solved a problem by an action you took which resulted in a positive result for you, your team and if you can demonstate an organisational benefit, that is best of all.

So your CV needs to focus on examples which showcase your top skills and resulting accomplishments. This is the meat of your CV and should account for 80% of its content. The other 20% is your education, training, memeberships and awards (10%) and 7% a quick profile outlining your background in three lines as the first heading after your contact details (3%) There's no need to write curriculum vitae at the top anymore, that's really old hat.

Most interviewers find CV screening to be the most boring part of their jobs, so why not be ahead of the posse and have an interesting, snappy CV. They'll be so relieved...they'll like you before they meet you and that paves the way for an easier ride in the interview.

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