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The Best Kept Secrets In Cv Writing

May 1, 2024

Myth 1 – Trust one source

Everyone has an opinion - do not assume any one person is right. Do your own research.

Myth 2 – You should invest in getting your CV well designed

Nobody cares how many logos you have on your CV and how pretty it looks. Employers look at hundreds of CVs – only the content is important.

Myth 3 – Leave some of your contact details off

Absolutely not! Put your address on there so employers can see where you’re based and make sure they’re up to date. I’ve had CVs with the email address only, and if the email bounces I can’t get in touch.

Myth 4 – The format doesn’t matter

I’ve received CVs as JPEGS and PDF. Recruiters will want to redact your contact information. They’re trying to help you so make it easy for them and send as a word doc.M

Myth 5 – Age doesn’t matter

Like it or not, there are still some ageist employers out there. If an employer is looking for a 30-something rather than a 50-something, it stands to reason that when you are called for interview it will become evident you are not what they are looking for and you will have wasted your own time by attending an interview. I will always call an employer out on this but it still happens.

Myth 6 – You should demilitarise your CV

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

You should not ignore your military background and it’s fine to put your rank on your CV as long as you explain the rank in full (e.g. ASM – Artificer Sergeant Major) and you can explain through your responsibilities what your job involved. You should also list your Unit as well. Recruiters will search for key words in a CV and if key words are not in there your CV will not get flagged.

 

Myth 7 – You should only have one CV

You can make up different CVs for different vertical markets (i.e. mechanical engineering, electrical, aviation etc.) If you do this however, you must take care not to ignore the job description if you are applying for a specific post and take care which CV you post on the job boards as you can pigeonhole yourself by being too narrow. This is a personal choice.

Myth 8 – There are no words that should be off limits

There are plenty of “dog words/phrases”.

For example, the word ‘competent’ suggests adequate and the client is likely to be looking for more than that. Substitute it for ‘experienced’.

It can be dangerous to put an ‘objective’ in your CV. True, it can illustrate your focus and if you are prepared to amend it every time you send a CV out, then it is worth considering. Most candidates, however, are not always that diligent and employers receive applications for a ‘Logistics Manager’ with the objective at the top of the CV reading “looking for a Security Manager”.

Avoid putting everything in your CV in capital letters - use capitals properly. It can be interpreted as improper use of grammar otherwise. Also take care which font you use as some fonts can be difficult to read or look unprofessional.

“Works well on own or part of a team” – avoid like the plague. If you want to illustrate both sides then show it in your CV through your responsibilities and achievements.

Myth 9 – There’s no value in behavioural assessments

We built assessments into our interview process because they were so successful. The accuracy and insight you get helps you to understand yourself on a whole new level.

Myth 10 – There is no “magic sauce”

Wrong. See my article on the best kept secret in CV writing.

Your CV is a selling tool and its job is to get you an interview.

In your “Professional Experience” section, list your key responsibilities – WHAT and WHOM you have been responsible for. 

Your “Key Achievements” within each role should come next. These should lead on from your “Key Responsibilities”. For example, if you are an NVQ Assessor your key responsibility will be to assess troops in a particular skill and your key achievement (i.e. THE DIFFERENCE YOU HAVE MADE TO YOUR EMPLOYER) is your pass rate. Key achievements save your employer time or money – they show what difference you have made as a member of staff. If, in this case, an employer is looking for an NVQ Assessor in Security and Loss Prevention and wants someone with A1 and a 70% pass rate and you have A1 and a 95% pass rate is the employer more likely to want to see you. To round this off perfectly your CV should mirror what the job description is looking for but not “Mickey mouse” it – i.e. word for word. 

SHOW THEM WHAT DIFFERENCE YOU COULD MAKE TO THEM – SAVE THEM TIME OR MONEY.

There are 4 reasons someone will want to take you on: 

  1. Save your employer time

  2. Save your employer money

  3. Make your employer money

  4. Lead a team to do one or more of the above

If you read through your key achievements and you can say “So what” after a point then it’s not an achievement – do this exercise and keep saying “so what” until you understand the benefit.

We like people who listen to us, to understand our needs, to make us feel important, to match our needs to an offering of real value to us. We confirm this is correct and we buy. It’s as simple as that.

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SUMMARY

DO

  • Limit your CV to 2 pages, absolute maximum of 3

  • Send your CV in word format

  • Use military acronyms but explain them

  • Put your rank and military key words in your CV

  • Remember the job of the CV is to get you an interview; nothing more

DO NOT

  • Put boxes around your text

  • Send your CV in Acrobat reader or as a JPEG

  • Omit job titles

  • Mix up your key responsibilities with key achievements – an achievement is the difference you have made to an employer (saving them time or money or making them money)

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