2. The Curriculum Vitae

An essential element when job hunting, a “good” CV is first and foremost a clear CV. A recruiter must be able to identify your contact details, education and main experience quickly.

Once you have finished you CV, ask yourself two questions: What more could I delete? Is it suited to my target recruiters? If you are aiming at several, very different, targets, don’t hesitate to create two or three CVs tailored to your chosen target.

Your goal is to get an interview; to achieve it you need to combat three enemies.

Enemy 1: vagueness

  • A CV with no clear strategy: before writing it, define your expectations of your next job. The main thrust of your career will be clearer to you; it must make a future employer want to make contact with you.

  • Contact details at the end of your CV, no contact details: remember that all recruiters look for them in the top left! Just putting them in the accompanying email is not enough.

  • Unexplained gaps: breaks to bring up your children, go back to college, sail round the world... always say what you have been doing: this will save the recruiter unnecessary questions. Tip: a long period of unemployment can be replaced by “personal project, creative project, etc”, provided you are able to talk about it in an interview.

  • The ghost company: a recruiter is not a walking business directory – a company name is not enough! Indicate in brackets what it does, website, turnover and workforce. These details are equally valid, with the exception of the name, if you do not want to name the company you are still working for.

  • A lack of figures: perhaps you are an excellent sales rep, and you exceed your targets, but no trace of it, such as “2006: achieved 110% of the required sales target”, appears on your CV? In your opinion, what will the Sales Director you are trying to convince think? Whatever your role, you can show a recruiter that you are aware of quantitative and qualitative goals. A development engineer, for example, might indicate the scope of a project by indicating the number of man-days or the number of lines of code.

Enemy 2: unbalance

  • Disproportionate information: the lengths of the segments of information should reflect the amounts of time spent with each company. A common error is to summarise five years of experience in five lines while one year takes up ten lines. Another classic error: the CVs of computer services consultants where each assignment is detailed to the nth degree however long they lasted. The result is an overly long CV where nothing stands out.

  • A litany of training courses, internships or every little item of experience: a Masters level candidate mentioning all her company training courses. Great, but summarise them, it’s a better idea! One or two sentences are enough. The benefit for you is that by making these points briefer you make space for other, more recent, formative, effective items, especially as after a fifteen-year career, this type of information loses its interest and risks showing up your lack of summarising skills. At this level of experience, instead of adding each new stage to a previous version of your CV, start again from scratch when you need to write a new one.

  • “Flash” CVs: one line per job! This type of CV is common for candidates who have done lots of temporary work or consulting. So as not to leave the recruiter unsatisfied, consider grouping together several items of experience (for example: freelance developer for companies X, Y and Z) and going into a little more detail on your role.

Enemy 3: vanity

  • Languages: great news: But, just because you went on holiday to Rome, it doesn't make you fluent Italian speaker! A little realism ― and modesty? ― is perhaps in order, if only to prevent you making a journey for no reason. Especially given that someone who is “bilingual” or “fluent” but cannot speak a word in the interview is unlikely to make a good impression when the position requires daily relations with the Rome office... as the advert indicated.

  • The all-purpose section, generally entitled “leisure interests”: the 18 countries you have visited, the five different sports you play and your holiday home improvement work... Restraint is advisable!

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