14 April 2020

Are you worried about your job during COVID-19? Do you want to give your CV a brush-up?

Amidst the coronavirus, it might be a good time to give your CV a refresh.

My name is Mark Charman and I am the CEO and Founder of FRAME Recruitment. I’ve worked in recruitment for over 25 years and I’ve seen thousands of CVs and placed hundreds of people into new jobs, at all levels of the employment market. I wanted to provide my thoughts on the most frequently asked questions I receive about CVs.

How long should my CV be?

There are no right or wrong answers with regards to how long your CV should be. It is your CV, not somebody else's, and the length of your CV will depend on how much you have got to say.

If you are a senior executive, you are unlikely to be able to cram all the good things you've got to say about yourself into one page. If you're starting out in your career, then stretching your experience to two or three pages might be tough. There are no rules. It's what's right for you.

Is there a set way my CV should look?

The simple answer is no. However, there are two basics that you must not fail to get right:

1. Presentation

Your CV is a sales document. It is going to promote you to a prospective employer and why they are going to call you to come in for an interview. Like any good sales document, your CV needs to be clear, concise and easy to read.

A sea of words with no formatting is just not going to cut it.

2. Spelling and Grammar

I see too many CVs, even from Senior Executives, that have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. This sends the wrong message to the prospective employer.

Spell checker exists for a reason, you also have Grammarly available on the internet and other similar programmes. There is no excuse not to get this right.

Should I use an online CV template?

Yes – there are lots of these templates available and if you want to use one that is fine. Remember, if you use one, it is likely your CV will look like everyone else’s.

Should I use a professional CV writer?

My answer is no. Nobody knows you, like you. There is a wealth of information accessible online about how to write CVs, there are templates, and lots of advice available for free too. You should be able to write this yourself.

In what order should I write my experience?

You should write your CV in reverse chronological order – your most recent experience first. Write more about your recent experience and less about your experience in the past. Half-a-page on what you did 20 years ago, is not necessary, and a couple of sentences on your last job is not enough.

How should I write about what I have done in my career?

Write about what you've done, but remember, your CV should sell you and so write about what you've achieved. How much did you increase profits by? What size was the team you built? How good was your safety record? What operational improvements did you make?

What are your pet hates on CVs?

My pet hates on CVs are meaningless buzz words listed at the top of the CV, for example, "adaptable", save it for the interview.

Do I still need a CV, or will my LinkedIn profile do?

Yes, most hiring managers will still expect to see a CV, and most employers will also look at your LinkedIn profile. They both need to be good and they need to match up to one another.

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