Thursday, June 21, 2012

Have you updated your CV lately?

My CV is due a bit of a facelift. Being a tad out of date with the latest thinking about CVs, I went to a workshop the other day led by Jane Field, a careers adviser at Otago Polytechnic. Keeping in mind that employers are supposed to take only six seconds to read your CV before they move onto the next one, here are a few tips that I gleaned from Jane that you might want to consider if you're updating your CV. 

1. No more than two or three pages
  • One page means one side
  • Do not staple pages together or double-side them
2. Style
  • Use black on white
  • No front sheet
  • Must be grammatically correct with no spelling errors.
  • Use a font that is easy to read eg Calibri 1.15 space
  • Use single space when writing contact details.
  • Don't go back more than 10 years.
  • Your name should be printed on every page, preferably the top right hand corner, in a "header".
  • Be consistent throughout your CV ie make sure your font and style is consistent, and it matches your cover letter
  • Use bullet points if you wish to emphasise elements.
  • Don't use your photo.
3. Personal statement
Make the first quarter of the first page a personal statement. Concisely sum up what sort of person you are. This is your voice and your chance to capture the reader's attention, and tell the future employer why it is he/she should hire you.

4. Pages two and three
One page is used to talk about employment and one page is used to talk about skills.  Emphasise your skills as opposed to where you worked, unless the place you worked is extremely prestigious ie if I had worked as a lecturer at Oxford University, I'd probably make a bit of a song and dance about that. If you are just entering the job market, you might want to fill out space talking about volunteer positions and activities.

5. Other information
If you are an academic with lots of publications and conferences, just take a few key examples to list. Don't waste space listing referees, after all, you will be asked to provide them in a job application form. Leave out personal interests unless they provide evidence of specific skills.  No one really needs to know that you like walking and watching TV! However, if you're the treasurer of  your local tennis club and applying for an accountancy job, that might be a very relevant piece of information to supply.

I have over 30 years of experience and achievements to condense into my CV so, to be honest, I am not sure how I would be able to stick to three pages.  So I am thinking I would need to be strategic with how I integrated my CV with my cover letter. At the same time, I'm quite keen to think about how I can present my CV completely differently...but that's for another blog post!

What tips about CVs have you learned along the way, that you would pass on? What has worked for you? Is there anything here that you disagree with, or would add?


Rebekah Brown said...

A few weeks late but thanks so much for this and the following post about alternative formats. I've submitted my CV twice in a few weeks and used some of your advice. One application has been successful and the other I have only just submitted so haven't heard yet. For one, an eLearning development role, I did consider trying one of the new formats but wimped out and went with paper. The other was in higher ed and, like you, I didn't think anything novel would go down very well.

I appreciate your musings greatly. Thanks so much for taking the time.

Sarah Stewart said...

Glad to be of help. I've come to the conclusion that it does depend what job you apply for, as to how long your CV is. Whilst I'm trying to keep mine to no more than 3/4 pages, because I have such a long work history, I'm finding it very hard.