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Are You Struggling With Your CV? Turn that around now!

As the clocks go back (this Sunday people!) it can feel like the year is winding down. But for those looking for a new role, now is the time to be brushing up the CV and applying for Christmas work or getting your application noticed before the New Year rush.

Now, we’ve talked about CVs before – check out our Stephen King-themed advice here – but as jobs board CV-Library reveals that almost half (48.1%) of UK workers cannot write a good CV we thought it’s time to look at this again with the help of our super savvy consultants.

1. What makes a CV work for you?

First: spelling. Bad spelling jumps out of the page and makes you seem slapdash and careless. Tweet: Bad spelling jumps out of the page and makes you seem slapdash and careless. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
​And, while document spell checkers are meant to stop this we still see spelling mistakes. In fact: a 2015 study found that every third CV contains a spelling error! Tweet: 2015 study found that every third CV contains a spelling error! #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK

2. What are the most common mistakes?

The most common mistakes I notice are places of employment – of course these won’t usually be in your spell checker, but if you worked there it looks more than sloppy if you can’t get the name right. Not sure how to spell it? Google it.

A more innocent mistake is actually more down to proofreading – it’s that sneaky word which is spelled right, but is in the wrong place: ‘job hurt’ instead of ‘job hunt’ for example.

You can test your spelling and literacy skills against some common CV slip-ups over at The Guardian in 10 quick questions.

3. So what information do you expect to see in a CV?

A basic CV template needs to include your career history with dates, places of employment and a brief description of responsibilities. Key academic and professional qualifications should be listed too.

I’d say ‘brief’ is key here. Ideally a CV should be 2 pages of A4 max.

4. What if I’ve got lots to say?

Your CV needs to make an impact. It needs to grab your reader’s attention. Dense, word-filled documents tend to put people off.

Make your recruiter’s job easier and highlight key skills, experience, awards or successes clearly.

Use bolded text, bullet points and if you’ve done a similar role in various places you don’t need to repeat the same information again and again – say, ‘duties as before’ or something to that effect.

5. So, I need to make my CV interesting not simply factual?

You MUSTN’T lie on your CV. While you might think it’s ok to exaggerate when it comes to your CV it’s considered fraud and could even have legal repercussions in some cases!

By interesting I mean use examples instead of simply lists of duties [again see our Stephen King themed CV advice here] or numbers to demonstrate impact on sales or improvements [check out the Count from Sesame Street’s advice on that here].

6. How do I tailor my CV to different recruiters?

An easy way to tailor your CV is through one word: keywords. Tweet: An easy way to tailor your CV is through one word: keywords. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
​Use the recruiter’s keywords in your application. They say ‘dependable’ you say ‘dependable’, for example.

This means referring to the job description, not simply your idea of the job.

7. What else can the job description do to guide me?

So, you’ve got a basic CV with all your essential information. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time but you must demonstrate that your skills, qualification and experience fits what the recruiter is asking for.

That’s where your examples come in: they want someone ‘dynamic’ so showcase examples of high energy, productivity and influence.

Set out their criteria and answer it – this is also good interview prep.

8. Great, so any last words on CVs?

Don’t forget to showcase your personality on your CV. Tweet: Don’t forget to showcase your personality on your CV. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
​That seems to go against everything from plain CVs to tailoring your information to fit a recruiter’s job spec , but although you need to show you ‘fit’ the role you also need to show why you’re that ‘special someone’.

If they get a hundred applicants who all look and sound the same what’s the difference?

Include examples of extracurricular activities or interests where possible – these don’t simply have to be a list at the end of your CV but can enhance your CV ‘story’.

Play team sports? You’re active, sociable and literally a teamplayer, for example. [Get some more ideas on adding some star quality to your CV through hobbies and interests on our Marilyn Monroe-themed blog here.]

Now over to you:

Have any thoughts on what you’ve read? Are you searching for a new job? Want to ask about writing a great CV? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!

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