Your CV – The Myths and Reality

The digital age is upon us. Offering fast and simple solutions to just about anything, the CV has and will continue to evolve rapidly with the progression of digitalisation. This is certainly true of our current online job search but your CV remains as powerful as ever and acts as your baseline throughout the application process. Your CV is your shop window for the potential employer to view your professional work endeavours to date.

Some candidates aren’t sure on how necessary certain aspects of the CV are and what format and structure to opt for.

Lisa Jones, Careers Consultant at the OA is joined by special guest Giles O’Halloran, HR Strategist, lead tutor for the CIPD and Pathfinder Columnist, to help identify the reality and the myths of the CV in our recent webinar…

So what is a CV and how is it evolving into something new?

Your CV is a marketing document which demonstrates your skills, knowledge and experience to the potential employer. It acts as your own professional brand which you should use to sell your expertise and highlight your employability to the recruiter or employer.
There is no correct CV structure to base yours on and Giles remarks on the fact that the perfect CV does not exist. You may choose to format your CV however you feel suits but if you’re unsure on where to begin, here are two of the most popular styles…

Chronological – seemingly the most common, this style of CV contains a statement, career summary, and chronological (or reverse) listing of your employment history. It should also include an additional mention of achievements, special skills, education and qualifications.

Skills-based – Focusing on particular aspects of your experience, this structure is based around the skills that are most relevant and transferable to the job you are applying for. Less about your entire work history (this is featured at the bottom of the CV) your aim is to demonstrate a comprehensive view of your abilities. The skills-based CV is a favoured option for providing short-term positions, temporary employment or internships. This format is also preferable for people who have experienced a large gap in their work history.

Make sure you look closely at the job specification which you can then build your skills and qualities around – it is these skills that the employers are looking for so be sure to record the information that is relevant and use it to your advantage.

More mobile and network connected than ever before, job seekers are now able to search and apply for opportunities at any time and anywhere. With access to a range of online job sites and downloadable tools such as CV and resume builders, the digital age offers much quicker methods in navigating the job market.
Websites such as Indeed which is considered the Google of job searching and Glassdoor; the Trip Advisor of the market with its featured reviews and ratings, aid to steer the changing nature of work and how we apply for jobs; that is why your CV should act as the fundamental tool used to build upon.

The realities and the myths

The truth is there’s no such thing as an ‘all-encompassing’ CV. Choosing which style to go for is really about what will work best for you based on the type of job and sector you’re applying for. Either way, your CV should be consistent and reflect your presence in the wider world.

• It is generally understood that a recruiter will take 8-12 seconds to review your CV and decide whether it is worth reading and considering for the next stage. You’ve got to capture the reader’s attention. Ensure that you’re succinct and to the point, using bullet points to help your key skills and statements stand out. Avoid generic and bland language that’s likely to lose their interest.

• 81% of webinar participants opted for ‘2 pages as a complete document’ as being the correct amount when applying for jobs. Though Giles stresses the importance of being concise and compact with the info you provide, he also mentions that there is no rule to follow here. Often academics or people who have over 20 years of employment history, will feel obliged to fill more than two pages worth, but what is most important is the context – you only really need a maximum of 2 pages to communicate your desired message.

• Many candidates overlook the 8-12 second rule by featuring all education and qualifications at the end, to support their employment history. 60% of our webinar participants also agreed with this but most employers will look for specialist skills and knowledge before reviewing the rest of the CV. If you include the information at the beginning for clarity, it saves the reader jumping from one section of the CV to another.

If you’ve changed roles often or have a history of ‘career hopping’, make sure that you demonstrate some clear form of progression on your CV. Remember that your CV should be geared towards what you want to do as well as what you have already done, but if you’ve decided to change direction, then it’s important to draw on your transferable skills.

These are just a few pointers to keep in mind when crafting your CV but if you’re keen to learn more, Giles delves deeper into the world of CV writing in our webinar The CV: Myths and Reality.
For more tips and advice on structuring your CV, book a one to one career consultation with one of our ex-military careers experts.