CV Writing Hints and Tips

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“We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig, and other things you shouldn’t put in your CV.

“My sister once won a strawberry-eating contest.”

“I work well in the nude.”

“Organised the office lottery entry for five years.”

“Was sent on an anger management course.”

Other bad ideas include printing your CV on blue paper with teddy bears round the edge, pink paper with a Hello Kitty watermark or indeed, almost anything except plain white or buff paper.

How bad can CVs really be?

A recent survey by fish4jobs reported that 73 per cent of employers were more irritated by badly written CVs than by applicants who arrived late, wore inappropriate clothes or swore during an interview.

And what constituted badly written CVs?

  • 89% cited grammatical errors
  • 67% hated bad spelling, especially of key words such as their company names
  • 65% were annoyed by irrelevant information
  • 63% mentioned inappropriate email addresses.

Simply by avoiding these problems, you will have an advantage over other job seekers.

  • Regarding spelling, too many people rely on the spell checker – it’s no good for words like their/they’re/there or manger/manager. All our course handbooks have a list at the back of many of the most frequently confused words and their meanings.
  • What not to include?
  • Secondary school results if you’ve been to university
  • Negative opinions of current or former employers
  • A letter from your mum (no, we’re not kidding) 
  • The intensity of your religious views
  • ‘References available on request’ – this is assumed and just sounds old-fashioned.

And what’s an inappropriate email address anyway? Well, how would you feel about hiring [email protected] or [email protected]?

You’re much better off using your name: [email protected]. If necessary, create an email address just for your job search and if your name is already taken, use a variation such as [email protected]

Be specific about what you’ve done and include details

Include any statistics you can:

–  saved company money by reducing expenditure on widgets 

–  reduced widget expenditure by 14% over eight months      

–  Account Manager, Sept 05 – present

  Managed company’s key accountsu  Account Manager, Sept 05 – present 

 Managing key accounts worth 3.7m       

Relate your experience to the job you’re applying for

Read the advert carefully and tailor your CV using the terms, definitions and descriptions the employer uses. Remember that the first sorting of CVs may be done by somebody who is not familiar with the job. They may simply go through a pile of applications and select those that match key terms. If you refer to an essential skill or experience using different words, they may not know enough to realise you’re talking about the same thing.

Don’t lie, even by omission

At time of writing, a council is suing a former manager for over a million pounds. The manager had put on her CV that she was in good health, but then took a lot of time off work for a pre-existing condition and eventually retired on the grounds of ill-health, with a generous pension. The court case is on the grounds of ‘fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation’ in answers to questions about the manager’s medical history, and, if the council wins, may have far-reaching repercussions for other job applicants.

Although we hope neither you nor anyone you know will be needing to brush up your CV any time soon, it never hurts to be prepared.

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