As part of our Careers Guide 2012 in conjunction with The National Student we asked three experts for advice on how to write the best CV to get you a job.
One of those experts was Julia Dolowicz, author of Creating Your First Ever CV IN Seven Easy Steps.
Here’s are her answers to our questions about CVs:
How long should my CV be?
If this is your first ever CV then I would encourage you to write maximum 2 pages not 1 as some suggest. This rings true for most other CV’s. For Research CV’s, it is accepted to have more pages for published research information.
Should I bother with a personal profile?
I would say Yes. Potential recruiters like to read a round-up of your strengths, abilities, and personality at the top of your CV. It gives them the information ‘straight-away’.
How much detail of my education should I include?
Is this question relating to educational qualifications? If so, this will depend on your age and level of qualifications. If you have limited education, then give all you have. If you have more, e.g. a degree, then often you can start with the University you attended and pre University course (A levels/Access/IB).
How much of my employment history should I include?
Again this depends on age and how much of it you have. If you have limited employment history, I encourage you to complete a skills CV, which will profile your transferable skills and strengths and highlight what you’re good at and where that evidence comes from. If you have lots of employment history, I wouldn’t go back further than 10 years.
How much about my outside interests should I include?
Employers tell me this is important but it’s crucial to get the balance right. I would choose to focus on things that you’re passionate about and happy to discuss at interview. Maybe two sentences maximum on this.
How much should I tailor each CV to specific positions?
Every time. Writing a ‘blanket CV’ just doesn’t work anymore. Even if you’re not applying for a job, go find job descriptions that give you an idea of the essential and desirable criteria and base your CV around the potential job you’re seeking. The days have gone when you throw together a CV with headings that are not related to any specific job.
How important is the presentation of my CV?
Extremely Important. Always make sure spelling, grammar and sentence construction is top priority. Don’t repeat the same words, use a Thesaurus. Check names, dates. You may get caught out. Choose a style and appearance and make it consistent. Don’t change the format mid way through.
Should I use colour in my CV?
My thoughts – no, don’t use colour or even photographs. It isn’t really necessary. However if you’re printing out your CV to hand to someone, use quality paper.
What is the worst mistake you have ever seen in a CV?
Dates are all wrong and not in chronological order. Spelling mistakes and inappropriate humour.
What is the one mistake you would say would guarantee your CV going straight in the bin?
Spelling and Grammar is a huge one. It’s vital that if you’re not confident in this area – ask someone to check it over with a ‘fine toothcomb.’
Julia Dolowicz is an external marker for Liverpool’s John Moore University World of Work programme. She also works for Liverpool College as a Careers Coach, supporting students throughout the University application process and coaching those who want to create their first CV. Julia is the author of Creating Your First Ever CV IN Seven Easy Steps.
Look out for more CV and other job hunting advice in our Careers Guide 2012.