As time passes, CV recommendations change. At one time, bigger was better. Then, HR managers lost the will to review multiple pages for each candidate, and experts began recommending CVs be no longer than one page. This recommendation frustrated many job hunters, as they had extensive background education, skills and employment history relevant to their current job searches. In the same vein, styles have also changes. I’d like to break apart some of the myths in CV writing and give you a few tips on how to do it right.
Myth #1: The One-Page Limit
No, you do not have to limit your CV to one page. Ideally, however, you should not go past two. The chances of a recruiter, employer or HR manager going past two pages is slim. What is more important than one page versus two pages is that you are able to present your skills, experience and education in a way that balances the employer’s need for relevant information about you with their lack of time to fully review the details. Remember: in reviewing your CV, they are simply screening for potential candidates to review. They do not need or want your full history.
Myth #2: Special Styles and Fonts Get You Noticed
Yes…and no. I see many CV writers who have gone completely overboard stylising their CVs to the point of gaudiness. Too much creativity can simply serve as a distraction from the information you want your potential employer to really notice. Use standard fonts, black only, and a readable font size. I recommend 12pt. Arial. Do not include graphics.
Myth #3: I Can Exaggerate My Qualifications – No One Will Ever Know
FALSE! While there are many employers these days who do not provide reference information beyond position title, dates employed and salary, discriminating employers will know you have misled them before the interview is over. Second, many companies are turning to professional recruiters and employment verification services to do exactly that: check out employment backgrounds. If you exaggerate too much or list job duties or qualifications you do not have, not only will you be excluded from the job, they will remember it for future reference.
Myth # 4: I Need One CV that Works for All Positions
Again, this is incorrect. In my last article, I outlined the need for job seekers to identify a few well-thought positions that work well for them and create separate CVs for each. Each position requires different skills and experiences to be highlighted. I cannot stress enough just how important this is in getting an interview. If employers don’t see information relevant to the job title, you will end up in the CV slush pile.
Myth #5: References are a Part of Every CV
Not necessarily. Unless you have a reference that is incredibly impressive, listing references in your CV is useless. Employers that I know do not check references before they have interviewed the candidate. I suggest building a separate reference list and bringing it with you to the interview instead, simply stating in your CV that references are available upon request. Three to five are usually sufficient.