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CV or Resumes - What are they good for?

Well, first and foremost, if you are applying for a job, you are going to have to put your CV or resume together. Hang on, I hear you cry, what's the difference? Well in the UK and Europe, basically nothing. Both terms mean essentially the same thing. But in the US there is a big difference. CV's are used primarily for academic, teaching or medical jobs. They tend to be much more detailed, literally documenting the course of your life! Resumes on the other hand are what they literally mean. A summary. And these are used for practically every other job application.

So now we know the difference between them, where do we start? What should we be putting in it? How much information do people need? You have achieved so much and don't want the recruiters to miss out on anything! These are amongst the most common questions people have and as a recruiter and hiring manager for over 25 years, I have seen just about everything you can imagine on a cv/resume.

Lets start with some common questions.

1. "Do I put my photo on it?"

Unless you are looking for a starring role in the next Tom Cruise movie then I would say no. What recruiters and hiring managers are looking for is relevant information and pictures can often prove an unnecessary distraction. Again there are cultural differences and whilst it is quite unusual in the UK and US to accompany your cv/resume with a picture of yourself, in Europe it is common place. And I have seen some quite interesting ones in my time. My personal favourite was the one of a candidate holding a giant fish. Impressive I am sure but not sure what he was trying to convey in his job application! (This photo isn't actually the candidate! Just a get the idea!)

2. "There are loads of different templates online, how do I know which one is best?"

How you lay it out is up to you but the best piece of advice I can give is to keep it simple and easy to read. Essays are great for your dissertation but not for your resume or cv. Bullet point the key areas. Just remember, that hiring managers will see loads of cv's/resumes and they will want to get an essence of what you have done without having to read War & Peace! Remember, the cv/resume is there to get you the interview, not the job.

3. "I have had a few jobs in my career. Do I put them all down?"

I am pretty sure that knowing about your paper round and that bar stint you did at Uni or College is a great story but not really what your prospective employer needs to know about in your cv. If you have had a long career then it is perfectly legitimate to list the most recent or indeed make it a skills based resume. Listing the key skills that you have that would fit the role you are applying for. The more recent roles will need more bullet points whereas the roles you did at the start of your career may not be relevant at all. Just make sure that your dates and info tally with what you have on your LinkedIn profile!

4. "How much personal information do I need to put down? Surely just my name is enough?"

Believe it or not I have seen both sides of the spectrum. From just putting their name down and nothing else to name, age, gender, religious belief and listing several generations of their family and where they came from. You do not have to give information on your age, gender, disability, ethnicity or faith if you do not wish to. And this right is enshrined in law to protect you in most industrialised countries. Contact details are essential though! You don't want to get an interview but no-one knows how to contact you. Email, phone and address are important so they also know where you live. Your nationality and visa status are also important so they know whether they can hire you!

5. "I am a sales candidate and my deals are confidential. I can't give information on my quota or deal sizes"

It's pretty fair and reasonable to assume that when a company is looking to hire a new sales person or sales leader, they will want to know how well you have performed in the past. You don't have to name the client if you don't wish, but listing your major deals and performance against quota is vital information. If you don't list it, they will assume you didn't hit it!

6. "How many pages should I make it?"

Maximum of 2 pages of A4! I have seen cv's run into double figures and its completely pointless and will actually count against you. How you put together your cv/resume will tell an employer how you think and work. Having the ability to get the key points of your career tailored to the role you are applying for is a key skill and a short punchy resume, well written and to the point will work wonders!

7. "I don't really have any hobbies. Shall I just make them up and say I run a lot?"

Honesty is by far the best policy! Telling them about the things you find of interest and what you like to do outside of work gives a small insight into your character. And with google and extensive social media available, it is pretty foolish to tell tall tales on your resume!

8. "I have seen advertised a paid for cv service. They will do it for me for a fee!"

Save your money and write it yourself. There are plenty of templates out there that you can use but don't fear writing it. You know your career better than anyone and its your chance to shine. Just remember the above advice and you will be fine!

I have kept the advice down to just 8 points. Just remember to keep it simple, honest and informative. And above all keep in mind what a cv/resume is good for..........its sole purpose is to get you an interview. What you say and do at interview will get you the job!

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