The Perfect CV

Sadly, it doesn’t exist.

Let me put it plainly: there is no such thing as The Perfect CV.

If you talk to 100 different people, you will get 100 different opinions.  I have worked as a headhunter for 20 years.  I have seen literally thousands of CVs.  And I have read at least 12 books on how to write a CV.  Even so, I can guarantee that if I were to write your CV in what I believe to be the most effective format, you could probably find several people who told you they thought it was rubbish and needed complete re-writing.

The obsession that job hunters have with crafting the perfect CV stems, I think, from the hope that they can make a ‘magic bullet’ which, on its own, will be sufficient to open doors, win interviews and bag a job.  Unfortunately there has been plenty of research conducted to show that CV submissions alone lead to a job in less than 1% of cases.

CVs in fact play a relatively minor role in the overall job hunt; there are far more important things you could be doing to find a job than endlessly polishing your CV.   The covering letter, for example, is in many ways much more important for new graduates;  and networking is more important for more experienced job seekers.  For really senior people, the CV comes more or less as an afterthought – it is written by the headhunter quite late in the overall Search process.

And yet… And yet…

Whilst a great CV will not be sufficient to get you a job, unfortunately a poor CV will be enough to kybosh your chances.  There are some pretty basic things you can do to improve your chances.

I’m going to set out some of those in the sub-headings to this menu, and you can dip into them in no particular order.

But I also highly recommend that you buy – and read! – a copy of  “Brilliant CV: What Employers Want to See and How to Write it” by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl.

I read this book two years ago, along with 10 other books on how to write a CV and/or how to find a job.   I will eventually get round to reviewing them all on this blog.

In the meantime, the reason I liked Brilliant CV is partly because it happened to agree with most of the views I already held on what makes a good CV (yes, I know that’s highly suspect confirmation bias  but, as I said earlier, the whole area of evaluating CVs is a highly subjective business).

More importantly, they were the only authors who had made any attempt quantitatively to  test the impact of various  CV formats on HR Recruitment Managers and Headhunters, and so were able to base their recommendations on what works and does not work on actual fact.   So, if I were to only buy one book on CV-writing,  Brilliant CV is the one I would use (despite the less than brilliant reviews on Amazon).

Even better than buying and reading it would be to implement some of its ideas into your own CV…

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