Getting your CV ready for that next move by Neil Hagan
It’s fair to say we recruitment consultants see a lot of CVs. At the Law Support Group they range from law graduates/paralegals and legal secretaries to senior level business developers and legal finance managers. Your CV is your ticket to the main table, but it doesn’t need to be your whole life history! It should be a snapshot of who you are and what you can offer to an employer for a particular job vacancy.
Now I know people will question this post and say that every recruiter/employer tells them something different like a shorter CV has more impact and those who say you should detail everything you have ever done in your career. There really is no right or wrong approach, however there are things that you should consider when giving your CV a refresh or starting from scratch. Whatever you do with your CV, you do need to make it a watertight and fit for purpose document that will switch on that light bulb in any potential employers mind and leave a lasting impact!
We can sometimes fall into the habit of recycling our existing CV each time by just adding on our current job and a few lines or bullet points to describe the last 5 minutes let alone the last 2, 3,4,5, 10 years of our working life. Now don’t get me wrong, this can be seen as a good thing. Keep it short, sharp and to the point, some employers like that. There are a few things to take into account that an employer might look out for on your CV….or be slightly put off by, for example;
- Have an introduction, keep it punchy and to the point, just a couple of lines that gives an honest account of who you are, what you specialise in and where you want your next career move to be into. Less of the ‘I’m organised’ and ‘I’m a team player’ (an employer will automatically expect you to be this) more ‘I have experience in …….. in the ……….sector(s)’ and ‘I am actively seeking a move into……… to continue the development of my career in……………’
- The way someone will describe a previous job as if they are still working in that position, ie, ‘I currently support a group of legal Partners with their caseloads…..’ For a job that was five years ago! You must make sure you are using the correct tense, if you don’t you look lazy with poor attention to detail.
- Where you have been in a previous position for a short amount of time and dedicated half a page on your CV to describe your role and given less space to describe your current one that you have been in for significantly longer which is more relevant to the job that you have applied for
- Repeating yourself, if you have had a few jobs all of a similar nature to what you are currently doing (this is more common with career contractors), don’t fall into the trap of adding the same information over and over and over again. Its adds more length to your CV and the next thing you know you have gone onto your 6th or 7th page on your CV. Here’s a suggestion, stick down a key achievement(s) or project you worked on during that role and be completely descriptive with day to day tasks in your current or most recent position.
- An employer is not going to know every business out there, there a million and one different businesses in a number of different industries. They don’t have time to look further into a person’s CV and research the company they have worked for, unless you have worked for a recognised national/international brand. Simply add a line to describe who they are and what their reach is, maybe add a hyperlink which can take the employer through to the homepage.
- Adding a picture of yourself on your CV can split opinion, it can help your chances, however do consider what the person on the other end is thinking when they see this. The best advice I would say would be instead to include a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile (everyone should have one in this day and age) which will have a picture of you looking your most natural and professional best. If you still cannot resist putting a picture of yourself on your cv, at least make it look sensible and not too dramatic. Examples of CV fails include someone standing in a field with a balloon, a guy at a football match in full kit, a very out of focus modelling pose and some unnecessary clothing, haircuts and random accessories/backgrounds. Ideally don’t have a picture at all, but if you must, keep it simple and smart.
Now I don’t expect everyone to treat this CV advice as gospel, I decided to write this blog as I enjoy my job as recruitment consultant and meet with a lot of people who do struggle with their CVs and thought it would be good to share my views with those looking for their next role. Whether you decide to send your CV to a recruiter or to apply directly to companies that you have a particular interest in, you need to have it looking ship shape to capture the imagination.
Happy CV writing!