16

What do CV's look like today?

I am new to the CIPD community having recently completed my CIPD Level 3 L&D qualification, even though I have worked in a L&D environment for many years in a Local Authority setting, developing, designing and delivering training solutions, as well as managing projects and staff.  Like most organisations (and staff), we are currently experiencing a great period of change and I would like to update my CV.  Whilst there is a lot of information arouund about what a CV now looks like, I really don't know where to start.  Is it that long since I did a CV you might be asking ....  well, sadly, yes it is!  Can anyone help - is there a specific CV template that I need to follow?  What do I need to include?  How many sides of A4 should a good CV take - 1 side or more?  Are there any particular words / phrases I need to include (or leave out)?  Thanking you in advance for any helpful suggestions / advice you can give. 

  • David

    | 19436 Posts

    Chartered Member

    18 Dec, 2015 09:13

    Hi Thea
    This is a bit like asking for a discussion on something like 'what is
    Love' on half a page of A4: the scope and content of any possible answer is overwhelming, and no one answer is ever likely to be definitive.

    Anyhow, think you could do much worse than such as this answer:


    www.kent.ac.uk/.../cv.htm
  • Hi Thea,

    I am no expert at writing CV's but I do read a lot of them so my advice would be 2 A4 pages at the least but no more than 3 pages in length. Make sure you have a story running through your CV i.e. dates with jobs so that the reader can get an idea of who you are and what you have done so far. Also think about the business you are applying to what their culture is and what they actually want to know about you e.g. it is as important for us to get to know the REAL person as it is their work experience. Finally write a great covering letter as often this is what gets you noticed as it is probably the first thing a recruiter will see/read. Hope that helps and good luck!

    Gillian
  • In reply to Gillian Keery:

    Hi Gillian

    You are more of an expert than me! Thank you for your very helpful response and the hints and tips. You are so right, it is just as important for the person making the application to focus on the characteristics and transferable skills and experience they have to help potential employers get to know the REAL person. Equally as important is to adapt your CV to the business and culture to which you are applying – after all, a little research goes a long way and first impressions count! Thank you Gillian, I feel a lot less daunted by the thought of pulling together a CV and will certainly bear in mind the advice you have offered.

    Merry Christmas

    Thea
  • In reply to David:

    Hi David
    It is rather isn't it - but I like your answer, it made me smile.
    Thea
  • Karen

    | 113 Posts

    Chartered Member

    21 Dec, 2015 10:02

    It should go without saying that nowadays you leave off date of birth, hobbies, marital status etc (though I still see plenty with these on)... And personally I HATE the CVs with photos too... what is that supposed to tell us???

    The main piece of advice I would have is don't just regurgitate your job description on the employment history - say rather what value YOU added/what you achieved...

    EG something like: 'Reduced absenteeism from 10% to 5.7% by updating the absence policy to include back to work interviews as a requirement for all absences, and providing appropriate in house training for all managers.'
  • Keith

    | 9252 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    21 Dec, 2015 11:52

    In reply to Karen:

    I see no reason to leave hobbies off I still list mine (for what it's worth marathon running). I think a line at the end doesn't distract and may open an informal chat at interview.

    It's entirely up to the candidate if they want to include date of birth, marital status etc. There is nothing stopping you. Many recruiters do mental gymnastics anyway to work out the date of birth.

    Cvs with photos are more a French thing. Thankfully never really taken off here.
  • Karen

    | 113 Posts

    Chartered Member

    21 Dec, 2015 12:43

    In reply to Keith:

    You don't have to leave it off obviously - but I do think there is little value. Particularly seeing as there is often a little artistic licence in selection of which hobbies to include and which not to. I remember being told way back when to include something solo, something team-based, something active and something cerebral. All in all there is little value and it can lead some less experienced and worthy recruiters astray.. WHAT??? You play computer games in your spare time? You must be a know-it-all-geek/recluse/ emotionally-stunted/etc... you won't fit in here... and you will have a lot of absence due to your skewed take on priorities in life! (Honestly there are people out there that make those judgements - though hopefully nobody in HR.)

    (AND YES! I am a cynic!)

    As you say including the incidentals is up to choice, but I personally would never see a reason to add 'filler' to the CV unless it is looking sparse. I have seen plenty of CVs with the 'fluff' in it, but loads of pertinent information missing. As you point out the DOB stuff can just be a mental agility test for the recruiter... but seriously - if someone has enough experience to include then there is enough of a challenge including all the noteworthy stuff on the CV in the space given/reasonable - without including something that isn't needed.

    (Bah Humbug)
  • Keith

    | 9252 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    21 Dec, 2015 12:46

    In reply to Karen:

    We recruit people not CVs. A short line on hobbies adds colour and depth and may allow a nerve settling conversation. Can do little harm as long as they are actually your hobbies.

    I don't see it as a filler and have had lots of interesting conversations both about my hobbies and about others from their CVs.
  • Ray

    | 1890 Posts

    Chartered Member

    21 Dec, 2015 13:07

    In reply to Keith:

    Agree with Keith
    Since we recruit people and not robots, the way they are likely to 'fit in' with existing teams can often be as important as their technical know-how - particularly in SMEs.
    I know that when I interview I like to be able to identify comfort zone's for discussion where people can more easily start to open up and be put at ease, before getting into the nitty-gritty of the job and company aspects of the interview.
  • Karen

    | 113 Posts

    Chartered Member

    21 Dec, 2015 15:41

    In reply to Ray:

    There is nothing to stop anyone finding out about a person in the interview, I find plenty of information on 'who' I am recruiting when I interview without a discussion on rock climbing or Harry Potter... I learn a lot about their personality from how they answer the relevant questions and respond to the 'ice breaker' etc...but I still question whether a CV is a place to record what you are 'in to'... I am surprised to be honest that I seem to be alone amongst my online 'colleagues' to take this view.

    So should I amend my CV? Should I state Hobbies: None??? Should I then need to put a footnote to explain why this is the case? Might this not disadvantage me in the shortlisting process, whether consciously or otherwise?

    I am hoping my tone does not come across as rude - I am just bemused. We will have to agree to disagree on this one :)
  • Keith

    | 9252 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    21 Dec, 2015 16:07

    In reply to Karen:

    Karen the reason I replied originally was that you said " it goes without saying" not to include where for me it clearly doesn't go without saying -it was your certainty that I felt needed a friendly challenge. There is no perfect way here.

    Are you alone? Probably not. But it's about choice -if you want to include hobbies as I said I see no reason not to and definitely some reasons to. If you don't want to then fine it's your CV.

    Clearly if you really have no hobbies or none that show you in a positive light then again leave them off. As you would leave anything else off that you don't think will move you forward.

    Your whole CV disadvantages you or advantages you in the process it's the whole point. It's up to the candidate to choose what they put on to maximise their potential. If I were Thea I would clearly include it as one line on the bottom. But there is no way of knowing if it works or not really as with most things.
  • Karen

    | 113 Posts

    Chartered Member

    22 Dec, 2015 09:53

    In reply to Keith:

    Point taken Keith. Poor wording on my part there.
  • Sam

    | 588 Posts

    Associate

    4 Jan, 2016 14:20

    In reply to Karen:

    One thing I've learned to do over the years to strengthen a CV is to say what you've done instead of just what the activity was. For example instead of "attended management meetings" say what your reason for being at the meetings was: "Reported absence data to senior managers at monthly meeting" or "Raised/promoted HR strategies at weekly SMT meetings."

    Likewise instead of "ran monthly MI reports" turn this into "evaluated MI reports and made recommendations to HR Director" or whatever.

    I think little enhancements here and there (obviously without making stuff up!) go a long way especially if you're applying for a role that is more senior than your current one.

    Stats and cost savings you've achieved tend to go down well too, providing you can back any claims up!
  • Sam

    | 588 Posts

    Associate

    6 Jan, 2016 16:45

    In reply to Sam:

    For anyone looking to improve or re-write their CV, I came across this today on Future Learn (which itself is worth a look if you've not heard of it before)

    www.futurelearn.com/.../digital-cv

    Short, free distance learning courses you can undertake on any number of subjects, this one happens to be about writing a great CV.
  • Thea,
    This is sort of question which could have many answers. However, from my experience I think the CV should be fine tuned every time to suite the job you are applying for.
More Content