Like thousands of people around the world you may be contemplating updating your CV whilst you enjoy a spot of R&R this Christmas but will you get it right?

Speak to three recruiters and you’ll get three opinions as to how to lay it out, what to include, etc. There is no correct answer as we all have our preferred style because we believe it works.

However, some things are fundamental and you should get them right so here is a short list of my do’s and don’ts:

1.  Set out your roles in date order with the most recent first.

2.  If you are not working at present and there is a long gap at the top then add something suitable.

3.  Ensure that you change the tense of the older roles as you add a later one; i.e. change “I am” to “I was”, etc throughout so don’t forget to review the whole CV in this respect and not just the text you’re adding now.

4.  Add more achievements than responsibilities! Omit all the boring traditional tasks that everyone in that role or at that level will do.

5.  Learn to work MS Word more proficiently! It’s amazing how many people say they are expert and yet when I toggle the show/hide non-printing characters button (in the Paragraph button set) it shows they have character spaced to the middle and not centralised the text or have no idea how to set up tabs. Just some examples but you know what I mean.

6.  Write “word, next word” and not “word ,next word”.

7.  If you’re in England set the language to English (UK) and spell words like socialise correctly. Bill Gates has a lot to answer for in the UK!

8.  Ensure that words like “from” and “manager” aren’t typed as “form” and “manger” as spellchecker won’t spot these errors.

9.  Get “their”, “there” and “they’re”correct too.

I am sure that these are not all things to get right by any means and to a certain extent they’re just my pet hates. You may argue that it’s my role to ensure your grammar and punctuation is correct but it’s not. How can you produce reports, bids etc if you can’t spell? Very rarely do I see a CV without at least two typos so there’s a challenge to you. But please do update your CV as I’ll bet it needs it!

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Comment by Jennifer Olsen on December 22, 2011 at 3:01pm

I agree that there is no magic bullet when it comes to resume style but there are some things that will help across the board.  The list of dos and don’ts given here may seem simple and obvious but you’d be surprised how many times we see this type of error.  Correct grammar, spelling and formatting are absolutely fundamental.  While it can be argued (and I often do) that the most important aspect of your resume is the content, ignore the fundamentals and your excellent content will not matter.  One thing I’d add to the list here is that while no one font is guaranteed to get the attention of every recruiter, using only one font throughout your resume makes it more visually appealing.  I offer more resume writing tips in my recent blog “Distinguish Yourself – Resume Writing Tips for Job Seekers”

Comment by Steve Williams on December 23, 2011 at 3:47am

Hi Jennifer, Damn it, I meant to add that one! Honestly...... Thought of it a couple of days back but have brains like a sieve. It's true that these are my pet hates though. Candidates seeking a business development or bid role are perhaps the worst. Often they will say, "but I have a secretary or professional to help". I say, but what about your emails and immediate bid responses? I'll read your resume help now. Thanks Steve

Comment by Megan Bell on December 23, 2011 at 10:08am

There, their, they're; are and our; to, too, and two - also my big pet peeves!  Not only do I proof my resume over and over on the screen, I then print it out and read it a fewdays later to pretend like I'm the recruiter/hiring manager receiving it.  If you know you're weak at spelling, grammar, formatting, etc - have one of your friends proof it for you; oh yea, don't apply for a position that requires you to be an expert at it either.  Thanks for the I'm going to update my CV!


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