The problem with all the CV writing advice out there…

Thanks to the Internet, there’s probably more helpful advice out there for job seekers and it’s probably more accessible than ever.  Unfortunately, you can’t always trust what you read.  How can you tell what’s good advice and what’s not? Sometimes it’s common sense, but sometimes it’s not so clear cut.

First of all, let’s assume you’re looking for a job in Stockport – that’s what we do, after all! Even if you’ve found some great advice about writing a CV online, what’s expected varies wildly from country to country.  While a UK standard CV has 2-3 pages, in the USA you’re expected to cut things down to just one page, skipping on much of the details.  Equally, you’ll find that in continental Europe the Far East, including a photo of yourself is normal practice.  In the UK however, doing just that will often see your CV dismissed as standard practice for fear of accusations of discriminatory hiring practices based on information about your age, ethnicity, gender and other things revealed in a photograph.

Other advice is often all about standing out from the crowd with your CV.  There are always news stories popping up about plucky out-of-work graduates who score a new job from a snappy advert in the back of a taxi.  But these stories are very tiny minority of hiring decisions – they wouldn’t be newsworthy if we all did it! Most jobs are still filled the old-fashioned way, and you’re expected to have an old-fashioned and professional (perhaps even boring!) CV.  In more creative role, a bit more creativity in your CV is acceptable, but you’re better off playing it safe and coming equipped with a portfolio of work to showcase your talents.

Seniority (and we’re talking in terms of job role, not in years) also affects how you should write your CV.  If you’re just starting out in an industry, a 2 page CV will do just fine, include any work experience you have, and other responsibilities you have that will sing your praises.  If you’re at management level however, a 3 page CV is fine to include your additional responsibilities – you’re more likely to have some professional qualifications to include, and can detail any specific projects or challenges that you might have taken the lead on.

Then a lot of the details are down purely to personal preference – should you write your CV in the first person with I’s and We’s or should you be curt and bullet pointed? There aren’t really any hard and fast rules here, and much of the advice out there is contradictory as many recruiters and hiring managers prefer different things depending on their personalities. Just write things in a professional and formal way, but in a way that sounds most like you and that you’re most comfortable with – personality counts for a lot in recruitment  so be natural in your writing.

No two people have the same CVs, so as easy as it might be, you can’t take a cookie-cutter approach to yours. It’s unique to your experiences so the only iron-clad rule you need to follow is to check it for typos!