Perfect CVs - What's passé?

A Perfect CV versus an Imperfect CV

Exactly what makes the difference?

Recruiter's expectations are constantly changing and if your CV is not getting results it could be due to an outdated image.

Would you be impressed if someone presented at interview in a 1970s suit or with a Beatle's haircut?

It is important to realise that your CV reflects an estimation of your worth.

If your strategy is outdated, you'll miss out on the best career opportunities

The following tips will help to ensure your CV projects a modern, professional image .

What's passé

Chronological CVs that make it difficult for the reader to quickly reach the most relevant information

CVs that read like an autobiography - often cramped full of historic, inconsequential information

Gigantic headings comprising only a name and address, monopolise the CV's space and focus attention on the irrelevant

Self-congratulatory 'personal profiles' with unreal, uncorroborated, grandiose claims that reduce the CV's credibility in seconds

Objective statements that don't need stating! Your covering letter/email and the job applied for make your aims self-evident

Linguistic terms, catch phrases and clichés all too obviously uplifted from job advertisements

Lists of 'achievements' positioned out of context that make it difficult for the reader to comprehend the point you are trying to make

Repetitive, rambling content. The CV needs to be a quick read. Don't reiterate every task and responsibility you have ever had

Concentrate on results. Outline explicitly, and succinctly what you did, how you did it and the benefit to the organisation. For examples

Length - for some inexplicable reason two page CVs tend to be recommended. This might not always be appropriate?

Consider the ...

  • student who does not have any work experience and a one-page CV would suffice

  • consultant obstetrician whose selection panel requires a full list of papers published and conference presentations delivered

  • headteacher with a lengthy career packed full with initiatives and contributions that made a difference to academic results

  • IT Manager whose projects have been in diverse, complex environments requiring a wide range of technical expertise
  • While it is definitely Out to produce a longwinded CV - it is also Out to be so brief as to leave people guessing.

    With recruitment costs spiralling, employers are expecting recruiters to probe more deeply to find the best candidate at the initial CV screening not at the interview stage

    Bewildered? There's no need to be.

    What's in vogue

    Eye-catching, sleek design

    Create an instantly attractive, welcoming CV layout - uncluttered and streamlined by the strategic use of white space and logically positioned text.

    Content - commence with your strengths. If your qualifications are strong, recent and relevant then start your CV with those. If your USP is career then begin there.

    Prioritise information into clearly defined sub-headings that are right for your career level and guide the reader like signposts. For example, a ...

  • Student .. Qualifications - Dissertation - Projects - Work Experience - Voluntary roles - Positions of responsibility - Additional skills - General
  • Doctor .. Qualifications - Current appointment - Previous posts - Published papers - Conference presentations - General - References

  • Managing Director . Career - organisational background in terms of size and geographical scope - market and industry sector - business turnarounds - culture changes - ROCE - mergers - acquisitions - IIP - cost reductions - Education & Training - General

  • Producer . Career - title of films or TV programmes - synopsis of content - length - number of episodes - name of TV channel or film studio - General

  • Sales Manager . Career - products and services promoted - market and industry sectors - accounts won - territories expanded - relationships redeveloped - of new business - targets achieved - Education & Training
  • To succeed, your CV resume must communicate clearly, be persuasive and convincing . . .

    Communicate - weave into the language your approach, attitude and abilities.

    Persuade - convey an impressive picture of your intangible skills - initiative, resourcefulness, determination, persuasiveness and forward-thinking, progressive 'can do' approach

    Convince - focus on the recruiter's needs and produce a visually appealing, factually informative CV - well documented with a record of initiative and success. This strategic approach can't help to inspire the recruiter to invite you to interview.

    For a free appraisal of your CV resume, please send it to

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