It may be quite odd to hear that someone who writes a blog, routinely uploads selfies on the internet, and has, on more than one occasion, posted a snapchat story that consists entirely of her face, has trouble crafting a CV. Yet here we are.
I have a chronic inability to write about myself in a favourable manner for a document to be handed to professionals. Everything sounds too pretentious, like it’s the written representation of an elaborate, unnecessary hand gesture. Even though they are my very own, very real achievements, they also somehow sound too arrogant. Too much-ful, in the wonderful words and world of Lewis Carroll of which I am very obviously not a part; while simultaneously sounding a little childish, a touch inexperienced, with a dash of ‘this sort of sounded better in my head than when I said it out loud’. At least to me, anyway.
Regardless of the nuances I read into my own CV, and the pain it might cause, writing it shouldn’t take that long; just remember to include these things, especially if you’re like me and aren’t the biggest fan of writing about yourself.
bare bones first, fancify later
‘mildly intimidated’ doesn’t actually cover the fear that set in when I sat down to craft my CV. I’ve seen so many wonderfully designed, ridiculously pretty templates across the internet that I ended up procrastinating getting started. A unique and eye-catching page does set you apart initially, but there’s no point in having a beautiful template and nothing of substance in it. Get the key information down first, make it pretty later
it’s useful to work from a guide
if you’re having trouble, it’s helpful to glance over a couple of other people’s’ CVs to get a feel of how to lay the sections out and the sort of language typically used for this sort of document. One of the hurdles I found whilst writing mine was the fact that I’ve never really had to write a CV from scratch before; my previous employment has been application based or through recommendation. Useful for me, not fab for document creation. Having a couple to browse through showed me the sort of words used to describe achievements and the variety in sections. It’s also important to note here that if you’re using a guide, only use it to inspire you. Don’t go plagiarising someone else’s achievements, that is not cute.
have a list of things that you want to put in each section – helps you to remember!
I’m proud to say I’ve done quite a number of varied things in my life so far, but some of them aren’t exactly at the forefront of my memory, they’re buried under more recent experiences. When I sat down and went through the things that are relevant and CV worthy, lists for each section started growing quite nicely.
If you’re wondering what sort of sections are included in CVs usually then:
– education or academic record
– employment history or work experience
– hobbies and interests
don’t lie on your CV
while it can be incredibly tempting to embellish aspects of your achievements, and people may claim that others lie on their CVs all the time, it’s much much better to be truthful. Even if it’s just to save the eventual embarrassment when you’re asked to do something you physically cannot do. Remember that scene in Friends when Chandler goes through Joey’s resume and the only thing Joey can actually do is chug a pint of milk? Yeah. Far better off to be truthful and write positively about the gains from each experience.
should i put my blog on my CV?
this was probably one of the biggest questions for me, so much so I asked on twitter for some other opinions and advice on placement. The responses were largely positive – it was nice to see a lot of the blogosphere feel comfortable mentioning it on their resume – though a few said that some professions might not be receptive, so it is useful to think about what career you’re trying to get in to. For me, the issue was less ‘do I include’, as I knew I was going to, and more ‘where do I put it?’. Those who elaborated provided some really useful answers, and I decided to put my URL at the head of the document with my contact details, as well as some details about LMF and the transferable skills I’ve gained from blogging in the ‘hobbies and interests’ section.
A few other little CV tips:
– Serif fonts (the fonts with the little flicks at the feet like Times New Roman, Book Antiqua and Garibaldi Garamond) are fab for CV headings/titles. They look fancy and important.
– Sans Serif fonts (fonts without the little flicks, think Arial or Calibri) are easy to read and good for the body of your information.
– your CV should at most be two (2) pages long.
– if you haven’t spoken to anyone yet about being a reference/referee, or you know you’ll be putting your CV up on websites like Indeed and wish to retain some of their privacy, you can put ‘available upon request’ in the references section.
– if you know that you’ll be putting your CV on websites like Indeed, it’s really useful to remove most of the sensitive data (eg. addresses, telephone numbers) from the document. Leave your email visible so prospective employers can contact you.
– it’s also really useful, regardless of whether you’re making your CV available on websites, to export the finished product as a read only PDF. This means that even if you’re emailing copies to respond to advertisements, your document cannot be altered by a third party, and the information cannot be copied easily.
– it’s always a good idea to have someone read over your CV and spot any mistakes you may have missed. Spellcheck doesn’t catch everything!
Hopefully these help a few of you if you’re in the same boat I was. Unfortunately the best way to tackle a CV when you struggle to write about yourself is to just… start, in my opinion. Getting the first few words down are always the hardest, but it should flow once you get going.
Do any of you have any tips or tricks I’ve missed? Share them in the comments so we can all bask in the knowledge and wisdom.