CV Writing   


Meet Ronnie Résumé!!

Just like a boy scout, Ronnie Résumé is always prepared.

His Curriculum Vitae is a lean, mean, marketing machine which can be fired in the direction of a job opportunity at the drop of an e-mail.

Just like a finely-honed advertisement, the essential details can be registered 'at a glance'.

Ronnie's CV is always up-to-date and ready-to-go because he knows that speed is the essence of successful job hunting. 


  Ronnie Resume  

Your ‘Shop Window’

The Curriculum Vitae or Résumé is an advertisement for the individual, whose objective is to show what you have to offer in a compact and easily-digestible form.

The principal purpose of a CV is to secure a job interview but it can also provide a useful structure for the said interview.

A good CV is your primary marketing tool.



The CV Problem

Major employers receive dozens of CVs every day by post, fax and e-mail.

Being largely unsolicited, most of these are not 'filtered' to match any specific vacancy.

To read every one 'from cover to cover' would be physically impossible so it is crucial for the employer to grasp the essence of what you have to offer within a few seconds.

If interest is aroused during the critical 'first pass', they are likely to read further.



Henry Hirenfire


Henry Hirenfire Says:

I get around 200 CVs every week.

They have about 10 seconds to impress me or I bin 'em.


Visible Reams of Support

The readability of the CV is very much related to length so it needs to be short but not obsessively so.

A 15-page CV defeats the reader at the outset and is likely to be discarded.

The fashionable one-page 'consultancy' CVs tend to hide more than they reveal making it difficult to 'get a handle' on what the candidate is all about.

Remember - The principal object is to present your experience effectively - Not to get it all on one page.

There is nothing wrong with a three or  four page CV provided that page one  generates enough interest to encourage further reading.

The crucial point is to include all of the essential details on the first page.



CV Writing


Ronnie Résumé says:

Some people think that career information is like manure.

More effective if spread about a bit.



CVs with a certain style

Obviously, CVs should be neat and presentable but there is a balance to be struck between design and content.

Possession of the latest spiffy desk-top publishing package does not actually  make you 'artistic' and most employers prefer candidates who are 'businesslike' rather than 'cool'.

With anything involving design, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and there is no 'ideal' layout for a CV - Indeed, a reasonable degree of individuality can  make the document more-interesting.

As a good starting point, the document 'templates' available in MS-Word and other word processing software provide smart and professional-looking resume formats without excessive 'frills'.



Henry Hirenfire


Henry Hirenfire says: 

When I see a CV covered in fancy graphics, I wonder if the candidate has any real work to do.

In any case, complex artwork is often unreadable once it's been through a fax machine or photocopier.



The Curriculum Vitae should ideally be a self-contained document including your contact information, a summary of your experience and full supporting details.

Some items, such as salary required, might well be included in a covering letter and agencies will often prefer to remove your contact information.

It is important to state what you are looking for in a positive manner - Some candidates are quite strident in stating what they don't want.


Ronnie Resume


Ronnie Résumé says:

First impressions count and a CV can say quite a lot about your personality.

Make sure that yours doesn't say "attitude problem".


Nationality/Age/Sex Issues

Some politically-correct people consider that these items of information are 'not relevant' but the potential employer decides what is 'relevant' - For example, 'nationality' has a direct bearing on the ability to work within the UK.

Despite claims of being 'negotiable', employers tend to have a fairly clear idea of what they want to pay and the term 'negotiable' realistically means plus or minus 10%.

Like it or not, most employers are quite fussy and have an ideal 'profile' in mind which thy use as their basis for filtering candidates 'on paper'.

Your CV should include any information which has a bearing on the decision to progress your application further.


Summary Justice

Prominently displayed on the first page of your CV should be a few paragraphs summarising the 'essence' of what you have to offer and what you are seeking.

This statement is probably the most important item in the CV and needs to be written as 'tightly' as possible.

This is not the place for a detailed list of all software used or roles performed so just emphasise your main current skills and recent experience.

A useful technique is to write your 'first draft' and then eliminate as many words as possible without reducing information content.

Aim for a maximum 10 seconds reading time which is about 50 words.


Henry Hirenfire


Henry Hirenfire Says:

Whenever I read that the candidate is "a highly-motivated team player with excellent communications skills", I am always tempted to add "If I do say so myself". 


Apart from recent school and university leavers whose academic qualifications are their main selling point, general education is 'background' information which can be summarised towards the end of the CV along with 'hobbies' and 'interests'.

However, relevant professional education should be mentioned prominently on the first page.

For those working primarily in technical roles, the main skills should also be mentioned in the summary with the rest listed towards the end of the CV or within individual job descriptions.

It is particularly important to give a clear indication as to the 'level' of technical expertise so that time is not wasted on 'fruitless' interviews.



Employment Summary

Having read about your background in summary, most employers will still want to assess the 'depth' of your experience by considering the evidence of where and when it was gained.

It has now become fairly traditional to summarise jobs in reverse chronological order giving employer name, job title, start/finish dates and a brief description of duties.

The employer is primarily interested in the last 5 years or so and anything prior to that can be dealt with briefly, either job-by-job or summarised into a couple of paragraphs.

Many computer people seem to think that any non-IT background is 'irrelevant' but employers increasingly realise that technical skills need to be accompanied by an understanding of the 'business' problems to be solved.

So do let them know about your non-technical skills as well.



Ronnie Resume


Ronnie Résumé says:

Avoid confusion by expressing start and finish dates to the nearest month.

1998-1999 could be either one day or two years which may give the impression of trying to 'cover up' a short job.


  Other information

There are several less-important items which might be included in your resume such as hobbies, references and details of general education.

If you are an accomplished athlete or have an interesting hobby, for example, this might just give you an 'edge' with an employer on the basis of a common interest.

Similarly, if you went to a very well-known school or college, this might 'ring a bell' with some employers although we 'hoi polloi' should just stick to listing our main educational qualifications.

It is all a matter of balancing the value of the information against the space taken-up.


  Let's get Digital

Most employers will be happy to receive your CV as an original copy through the post though this may well be discarded immediately if you are rejected for the current vacancy.

You didn't really think that they filed them neatly for future reference - did you?

Although fax transmissions are also generally acceptable, they can produce a variety of problems including lost pages and poor-quality copies which will not be so impressive as your 'pristine' original.

Recruitment Agencies, on the other hand, will want to keep your CV for long-term use in a form which is accessible, easy to update and in a fit state to be sent out.

Essentially, this means that they need it on a computer as a WP or text file  rather than fax or scanned-in images which are not easily searchable or updateable.

As most CVs are now prepared on a computer, it is a simple matter to send copies on a CD, disk or by e-mail.


Connie Contractor

Connie Contractor says:

e-mail is a great tool for keeping in touch with agencies.

It is cheaper than phone, fax or post and will transmit a pristine copy of your latest CV in seconds.

MS-Word documents are generally acceptable though a rich text (RTF) format gives more universal compatibility.

Useful Tip: Agencies get a lot of files named 'CV' - Try using your own name.

A CV in time saves nine

A CV by FAX is far too lax

A CV by disk reduces risk

A CV by net is your best bet

  Final Polish

CV spelling mistakes stick out like the proverbial 'sore thumb'.

Furthermore, typing errors with valid spelling will not be spotted by your WP spell-checker.

Because the author of any document tends to see 'what they expect to see', it is always beneficial to have the CV proof-read independently.

Finally, always keep your CV up-to-date so that you can respond instantly to job opportunities.



Ronnie Resume


Ronnie Résumé says:

Always keep your CV up-to-date Opportunity may knock but it doesn't hang around.


  Search Engine CVs (Article)
  Sample CV  / Resume - Summaries.
  Checklist of CV / Resume - Detail

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