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13                    CVs – GENERAL POINTS


This section states some general principles.  Different texts on the subjects offer differing styles, which will not be covered here.


1.  There is no ‘model CV’.  Although it has to be true, it can be shaped to both reflect the person’s strengths and to fit well with the desired target position.   Content usually includes name, address, contact details, employment and qualifications.


2.  A CV is an advertisement for the applicant, not a full ‘warts and all account’.  It may include general skills, interests, references, gender, age, marital status, resident status and possibly ‘curriculum vitae’ itself.   All of these could be seen to be optional.  Interests may be uninteresting, references may be ‘available on request’, personal details may not be considered acceptable to divulge and one’s name may make a better heading than boring old Curriculum Vitae. 


3.  The main presentation task is to slow down the rate at which the CV heads for the waste paper basket.   Again, ignore ‘textbook’ models in favour of two points: personal strengths and what the employee is looking for.   Remember that an employer is not necessarily going to be interested in the welfare of any worthy stranger if they have dozens of cvs to look at; they may go on impressions.  If the person has a stronger employment history than qualifications, then put employment first; or vice-versa.  (The only general rule is that employers expect to see jobs covered from present or most recent first, going chronologically backwards).   If all things are equal, then put first whichever the employer is more likely to be looking for.


4.  Don’t bore the CV sifter.   Unless the employer has specifically asked for a full cv, 1 or 2 pages should suffice.  Try to produce cvs which cover full pages, rather than a page with a 6 line hang-over.   There are various things which may be left out.  Full descriptions may not be necessary for all of a client’s jobs; the most recent or particularly relevant positions, perhaps.   As the person ages, certain other things may be omitted; early swimming certificates and  primary school do not appear, and  other achievements are eventually phased out as an individual ages.  These things are always a matter of judgement: e.g. how much of a school’s address should be included?


5.  Balance content, length and aesthetic looks.  Some books on the subject give subjects studied in long single columns; what is wrong with two (maybe three) columns across the page?  On the other hand, don’t avoid white spaces altogether.  Tombstone’ paragraphs, with blocks of text stretching from margin to margin, may be less than readable.    With the possible exception of the name at the head of the cv,  avoid having more than 2 fonts; garishness does not impress.   In calculating size and style, consider questions such as: are titles such as ‘name’, ‘address’, ‘phone number’, strictly necessary?


  1. Preparation.  You may find sessions most effective if you can get the client to come in having written (preferably typed) all their details of employment and qualifications, skills and activities. They and you will find it easier to recall and tease out more details.


  1. Different types of cv. Examples of these can be found in various books about CVs.   (Perhaps the best is produced at quite a moderate price by the   University of London’s careers service.)      Experience in creating CVs, however, will lead to your individualising these rather than concerning yourself too much with such a taxonomy.    


Chronological: strictly by date order.  Especially good with a history of steady progression, particularly if continuing in the same career direction.  If the client’s experience is limited, this is at least clear and to the point.  It is less useful if there are gaps in employment, frequent career changes or factors to possibly play down.


Functional:  main achievements organised in ability groupings (e.g. IT, communication, leadership,  specialist skills).  For career changers, periods of absence, etc.  Not useful for the inexperienced.


Targeted:  for those who are clear about their goal and what is needed.  May be divided into skills and experience, citing examples of paid and unpaid experience.  Useful for showing an employer a good fit with their particular requirements.  Not for the inexperienced or for a wide range of jobs.


Hybrid:  this is a variable document for the experienced and confident.  An organised display is given of a particular range of skills and qualities.  Not for when you need to show a progression of jobs.  It is probably best only to venture into the unusual after experimenting with other types of cv, if they don’t meet particular needs. 


8.  Encourage clients to keep a log of different CVs sent (on different 

     computer files) and where sent.  A pattern of success (or failure) to       

     reach interviews may reflect upon the different styles used.


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CareerSteer – career test for career choice