>Those damned CVs

>Oh my. Yesterday I was re-introduced to the world of CVs. I fucking hate poorly written CVs. They make me very mad. Hence my swearing. Which I apologise for. Good release for annoyances though you understand. Anyway, as it stands there are some very poorly written CVs in the world and I have to rectify this. It is an evil which I can not and will not idly support!

Right, so let’s start from the beginning. Your introduction. If you are a school leaver I will expect you to spout such nonsense as ‘I am a team player and work well with others. I am also happy to work by myself if required.’ By God, what a lot of nothing. Acceptable but means nothing. Similarly ‘I have remarkable organisational ability’. Or ‘I thrive on new and exciting challenges’ Or ‘I am looking to step into a new role offering me a challenge from which I can develop’. However, if you are a professional i.e. someone who is embarking on their career or is in the throes of their career, such statements are bland, pointless, meaningless, unneccesary, uncreative and plain stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

How have you not amassed enough work experience to know that work demands that you work by yourself and as part of a team all at the same time? Or that you will be challenged because that is how work operates? If you are in a job which offers no or little challenge then you are doing yourself a disservice and you need to leave your job. Now.

Your introduction has to say something interesting otherwise it will go in the bin in the first few seconds. Seriously. Say something like ‘The world of interactive gaming offers a lot of innovation and free thought which I enjoy being part of. I enjoy coming up with new ways of engaging a gaming audience so that they are completely immersed in the experience I design.’ Really? You feel that strongly about stuff? Fuck me, let’s bring you in for an interview. Whereas if it reads something like ‘I have experience of building and designing a range of platform based games as well as adventure based games. I am looking forward to working in a new field to learn new skills and develop the ones I currently have.’ Then I have a simple response. Get lost.

Ok then we come on to the educational qualifications. Give me strength. Why, if you are a professional do you see the need to talk about your GCSEs? Seriously? GCSEs? What do they tell me about your ability to do the job? How does getting an ‘A’ in Geography tell me that you know anything about merchandising or about HR or about Account Planning or about Finance? Tell me what bits of your education history are relevant. Primarily, your degree or last major qualification. That’s it. I can assume then you’ve done well enough to get to that point. If you haven’t and you’re one of those gifted individuals who left school and did not go into further education then forget mentioning anything at all about which school you went to. It won’t make a difference to your application. Really.

Work experience. This is the year 2009. I need to only know about the work experience relevant to the last 10 years at most. Do not tell me about what you were doing in 1990. It is not relevant. Ever. And only tell me about your key achievements. I don’t need a complete breakdown of every single task you’ve ever done. I am intelligent enough to deduce that if you are working at X level you are able to do some of the basics. ‘Responsible for strategic direction or all agency accounts’, ‘responsible for new business and marketing of agency’, ‘training team and others in industry trends’. Oh how mundane and lifeless. Tell me something like ‘One of my key achievements was to roll out a programme on how to develop a strategic direction as an agency. This involved getting buy-in from department heads, and seeking approval from Exec sponsors. It taught me the importance of building relationships with key people and how to listen to the needs of the team.’ You actually learned something from work? Blow me over and call me Nancy.

Interests? Unless you are the Mother F*?!ing Theresa I care about your interests as much as I care about what Gordon Brown has for breakfast. Even then, Mother Theresa wouldn’t need to talk about her interests. Stop. Please. If you have a key skill such as being tri-lingual then I expect to see that mentioned in a section called ‘Key Skills’. Not your interests. It’s not an interest. It’s a KEY SKILL.

Which lastly brings me onto the presentation and layout of a CV. I actually have little to say about this except the following. We’re in a digital age. Have you considered making your CV online? Creating your very own CV webpage? Consider this. In an age when digital is integral to daily life, why create a CV? What does it say about you that a blog or a webpage can’t say better? With 18.3 million households having access to the internet (source: www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=8), how are you not considering this a way forward? Application forms are a topic for a later blog. Mostly, they’re useless.

Phew. If you want to sensor check your CV then please find someone credible enough to do this for you. I’m far from the only person able to do this. I just care enough to blog about it. By credible I mean anyone but a recruitment consultant. Honestly they know as much about CV writing as they know about flying to the moon. These leeches are only agents trying to place a potential candidate with a potential employer. Period. Find someone who you trust and is senior to you and ask them to do it. They’ll give you great advice about if your CV works.

UPDATE 15/12/2010 – I’ve been very unkind to recruitment consultants in that last paragraph. Since writing this post, I’ve expanded my online network and now talk very regularly to folks working in the recruitment industry. Those I talk to are inspiring and forward thinking individuals who recognise the perceptions around their industry and are trying to make a change for the better. If you’re in my network, and I talk to you, hopefully, I’ve not offended you – if I have please accept an apology from me.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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