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Brilliant Cover Letters by James Innes

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CHAPTER 9
From CVs to
interviews . . .
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CVs
‘Curriculum vitae’ is a Latin term and translates as ‘the course of one’s
life’. The simplest dictionary definition says that a curriculum vitae is ‘a
summary of your academic and work history’. Well, that’s basically true,
but I see a curriculum vitae (commonly abbreviated, of course, to CV) as
more of a personal sales brochure, one which should be very carefully
written and presented to ensure you have the best possible chance of
getting the job you want to really showcase your talent.
It is not an autobiography. Simply writing down a list of everything you
have done and everything you know will not guarantee you an interview.
In fact, it will just bore the socks off the
recruiter and undoubtedly count against you.
You should never lose sight of the fact that the
primary aim of your CV is purely and simply
to win you an interview.
Laying the foundations: getting the basics right
It is vitally important to see matters from the recruiter’s or prospective
employer’s perspective.
They’re often faced with a pile of many hundreds of CVs to review for just
one vacancy. Almost a third of recruiters admit to only reading a CV for a
minute before deciding whether to interview the candidate. In fact, many
admit to spending even less time 20 to 30 seconds is quite common.
They simply do not have the time to read them all in any depth. They’re
much more interested in getting out of the office and getting down the
the primary aim of your
CV is purely and simply
to win you an interview
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178 brilliant Cover L etters
pub! In their initial sift, they will very likely be looking for reasons to
discard your application, not for reasons to retain it. So how do you make
your CV stand out? How do you maximise your chances of being amongst
the 10 or so candidates they decide to invite for interview?
You need to determine exactly what to put in, exactly what to leave out
and what kind of a ‘spin’ to put on your CV to ensure that yours will stand
out from the competition. Getting it right is the difference between
getting your foot in the door for an interview and ending up in the ‘no
thank you’ pile also known as the bin!
You need to help the recruiter as much as possible, as they see sifting through
CVs as a chore and want it to be over as quickly as possible (remember, there’s
that pint waiting for them down the road!).They do not know you and they
don’t know what you’re capable of this is where you have to sell yourself.
The 15 most common CV writing mistakes and how to
avoid them
The CV Centre has conducted a comprehensive analysis of over 2,500
CVs to derive a ‘top 15’ of the common mistakes people make.
1 Inclusion of photographs
People often include photos of themselves on their CV. Don’t! Unless you
are applying to be a model or wish to work as an actor/actress then
including a photo with/on your CV is definitely not recommended at
least not within the UK.
2 Inappropriate heading
Your CV should be headed with your name and just your name boldly
and clearly, before any other details such as contact details and so on. It
should not be headed ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’ or anything else. Just
your name (and only your first name and your last name).
3 Missing or inappropriate email addresses
Whilst not having an email address at all on your CV is clearly a problem,
it’s not something I see very often. Far more common is the use of fun or
jokey email addresses. Whilst these may be fine for corresponding with
friends and family, employers will probably regard more ‘serious’ email
addresses as simply more professional.
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