Rod Cornwell (International Director, Thomas International) gives expert video advice on: What information should be at the top of my CV?; What information should be in the main body of my CV?; What information should I not put on my CV? and more...
What information should be at the top of my CV?
The information you should put at the top of your CV is your full name, your address, your email address and your telephone number.
What information should be in the main body of my CV?
In the main body of your CV, the most important information you need to put in is a passage to sell yourself to your future employer. This part of your CV should say something like, "I am a lively, enthusiastic team worker," or, "I am a very strong sales person with proven track history." Following on from that selling statement, you then need to cover your employment history with no gaps, and include information about your educational history with all the grades.
Do I need to add dates of my work history?
It's very important that you put the correct dates of your work history on your CV. The one thing that employers don't want to see is gaps. If you finished a job in a certain month, put the month that you finished. If there's a gap of three months or four months between starting a new job, put on your CV that you were unemployed, or that you went travelling, etc. An employer does not want to see a gap on a CV. The reason for that is they will suspect that maybe something else is going on. They don't need to have to probe into those sorts of areas.
Do I need to add descriptions of my jobs in my work history?
In the work history section of your CV, you'll be including the titles of roles you have had. It's also a good idea to give your employer an idea of what that job was all about, so include a job description, too. You may want to list some duties and responsibilities that you had within certain jobs.
What information should I not put on my CV?
It's essential that you keep your CV as straightforward as possible and as professional as possible, so do not include too much information. Do not put on your CV things like your favourite poem or rock band, or what your bad habits are. Keep it as professional as possible. People want to look at your potential career with them on your CV, not your bad habits.
Should I add my hobbies and interests?
From an employer's perspective, it's a good idea if you include hobbies and interests that you may have. If you play rugby, for example, put down that you play rugby, because it gives a good indication as to the fact that you may be a good team player. If you're involved with the arts, include information about that, because your employer may be looking for creativity, and so on.
What is a Personal Statement Value Statement, and do I need to include one?
It's very important that you include a Personal Statement in the main body of your CV. The reason for this is the employers looking at the type of person that you are. Don't make it too generic. If you are a strong salesman with a proven track history, put that specific statement down. If you're a good communicator with strong teamworking skills, put that example down. And if you can give an example of why you are like that so much the better. It's your opportunity to sell yourself to your future employer.
Should I lie on my CV?
I would suggest that you never, ever lie on your CV. There are a lot of companies out there now that perform a very comprehensive CV checking system for employers. Some people say, "Oh, it's okay to put a few white lies in there", or maybe extend the truths on employment history. Please, never do it. You will get found out, either at the interview or later on in the role.
Do I need to say where I went to school?
It's a very good idea if you include on your CV where and when you went to school. It will give your employer a good idea of the educational standard that you've received.
Do I need to say where I went to university?
It's a good idea if you let your employer know the university and the course you chose, and why. This will give them a good idea as to your career aspirations and the level of education that you've received.
Do I need to include my GCSE or A Level exam results?
It's very important that you include your GCSE and A Level exam results, because your employer needs to know the grades that you achieved; the areas that you're particularly going to shine in: economics, French, languages, sciences, whatever.
Do I need to include my degree results?
It's very important you that put your degree results down on your CV. Even if you got a third, we need to know that you attended that degree course for that certain period of time. It's essential that you don't have any gaps on your CV.
Should I add my future ambitions?
When your prospective employer brings you in for an interview, they are very interested in what you aspire to be in life, what your future ambitions are. Remember that a lot of employers don't just want you for a year, they want to carve a career for you. Therefore, if they know what your goals and aspirations in life are, they may be able to match them.
What is the ideal length for a CV?
The ideal length of a CV should be two pages of eight-fourths. If it runs to five or six, then the employer is going to lose interest. They don't want to wait through that much information on you. Certainly I understand that if it runs over two pages a little bit that's fine. The one danger you have is trying to squeeze it all on two pages and you make the font unreadable because it's so small. So just over two pages is fine. Certainly five or six is much much too much.
How long will a potential employer spend looking at my CV?
Your potential employer will only look at your CV the first time for about 9 seconds. Remember, they've got a lot of CVs that they're going through, so it's absolutely essential that you capture their attention very, very quickly. You can do this by having a very strong values statement, in terms of selling yourself, in the main bulk of your CV. That's where they're going to look first.
What happens to my CV when it reaches the employer?
When you send your CV over to your potential employer, it could end up on anybody's desk. You have to make sure that it ends up on the right person's desk. Your CV could go to HR or it could go to the assistant of the person who's interviewing you. It's absolutely essential that your CV is neat and has some point of interest on the front page, in order for people to respond to it and do something with it.
What typical errors do people make in CVs?
The typical errors that people make in CVs are typing errors and spelling errors. Put your CV through a spellchecker, read it through yourself thoroughly and get somebody else to proofread it for you as well. If it has any errors, no matter how simple they are, that CV will potentially get rejected. Other areas that you may find people making mistakes with CVs are in the use of too many fonts, which make it look very messy, and the overuse of colour, trying to make it look too jazzy. Employers reject CVs on those bases.
Should I add my date of birth and health status to my CV?
When considering whether to put your date of birth and health status at the top of your CV, it is not a legal requirement.
I have dyslexia/learning disabilities - should I mention it on my CV?
If you have dyslexia or learning difficulties at all then mention it on the CV if it's relevant. If it's not relevant to the problem at all, don't bother.