Saturday 7 July 2018

Sending out your Curriculum Vitae

A lot of people have given their advice after reading CVs. I am not offering any jobs right now, but I still receive plenty of CVs in my inbox and have discussed this sort of thing with other business owners in the past. So, here it goes.

Some CV advice:

1) Use personal pronouns, commas and full stops. Anyone who is annoyed by them is a) not a lawyer and not in a profession where good written communication is essential and b) is probably able to speed read in any case.
2) Ditch the precedent. List the information about your past experience and jobs that you'd list on LinkedIn. Don't follow some precedent that everyone hands around. Show you know how to construct a formal document.
3) Use a list/table format to supply what is sometimes considered 'superfluous' information, such as your citizenship, sex, phone number, email, website, driver's licence and car ownership status.
4) People want to know you are a complete human person. They want to know your interests, hobbies and what makes you tick. Just, don't list social justice warrior stuff on your CV. People know it is fake or problematic and you will be put on the no pile for that.
5) Don't play the victim card, or the rose from obscurity to greatness card. People want to know you are persevering, but they want someone who strives to better themselves, not someone who blames the world and holds onto past traumas. Get a job by impressing, not by trying to get sympathy.
6) Have a standard letter of motivation. Like everything in your CV it must show a perfect command of English vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Use simpler and smaller words, unless a larger word is ideal. Using a big word when unnecessary is bad communication.
7) Use concise sentences: short but not so short so as to lose the effect.
8) Market yourself. Make sure they want to hire you.
9) List past work experience, even if not in the field. Don't say you were fired or retrenched from a job, which is something I have read in a CV before: only mention retrenchment if it was your last job.
10) Don't lambaste past employers in your CV, or overplay the work you did there.
11) Show an understanding of other people, a willingness to learn and defer, and indicate your ability to show right judgement.
12) Show why you are the best candidate, convince, don't tell.
13) Put at least a month's work into perfecting your CV.
14) Use headers and footers.
15) Save your CV as a PDF when sending.
16) Have a message in the email you send, and mention the sort of job you are seeking. Mention the job you are applying for in the heading of the email, also.
17) Show you are polite and have good communications skills.
18) Make the back end of your CV robust. Place detail of your skills and experience behind everything else, in detail.
19) Include two letters of recommendation which show your good character, scan them in and append them to the end of your PDF. Have a different two character references people can call. They should be people who know you and your character, not past employers.
20) List every course you did and passed in varsity, but don't list the marks you got, say a copy of your transcript is available on request.
21) Don't include scans of your ID, transcripts and degrees in the email or bundle. Say they are available on request.
22) Come across as a competent but real human being.
23) Use the email to indicate you have some knowledge of the firm, if you want to customise it, but have a standard letter of motivation.
24) Say Dear Sir/Madam if you don't know exactly who you want a job from. Try to email a partner or director and avoid the HR department and the secretary. Go straight to the source. Have a paragraph in your email asking them to forward it to the appropriate person if they are not the desk dealing with human resources.
25) Check how you portray yourself on social media and when interacting with people in or adjacent to the profession you want to be part of, make sure you come across well in both instances. People often ask colleages for advice on hirings.
26) You are not worth what you have put into yourself, you are worth what someone is willing to pay for your services. Impress them enough that they want to pay you more so someone else doesn't scoop you up.
27) Dress more formally than the person who will be interviewing you, if you get an interview.
28) See how long secretarial staff have been there, and check LinkedIn for past employees who worked there. See how past employees describe their time there, and how long they worked there. Consider contacting them and finding out more about the firm you might be joining.
29) It will take hundreds of CVs sent out for you to find the right employer, and most won't have advertised a job, some will even create a job to hire you if you are impressive enough. Don't just send to a few employers.
30) Have an impressive and professional email address and conduct yourself with the professionalism expected of people doing the job you want to do.
31) Realise that a CV is like a profile on a dating website, and an interview is like a blind date: you are not everyone's right fit for the job, it is about figuring out if you and the employer are a good fit.


  1. This was very insightful. I would like to know though, what would you say is the maximum number of pages for a cv?

    1. It really depends. Be concise, give enough information to make them want to interview you.


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