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CV FAQ's and Answers
Q: Does a CV always need to be only one page?
A: CV length should not exceed two sides of A4 paper, ever. For most graduates, one side of A4 should be sufficient. The information on a CV should be carefully selected to show exactly how you meet the requirements. It should be very easy for the employer to be able to see this, without wading through extraneous material.
How much of those two sides you fill depends on how much you have done. Candidates who have established a career history will have to be selective as to what they include so that it all fits on, in this case make sensible use of margin and paragraph sizes. The most important information should be on the first page.
Q: Should the education section always be near the top?
A: This is dependent on which is most relevant for the job you are applying for. If you still are in or have recently completed formal education your academic achievements will form a major part of your qualifications, and it is recommended to place these near the top of your CV. However, if you have a large amount of relevant work experience, this should be the first thing the employer sees.
Q: Is an objective always necessary?
A: No. This is one part of CVs that divides opinion. Many careers advisors recommend against it, while some think it shows direction and goals. It is really only advisable to use an objective if the job you are applying to is directly linked, and the role is one that you can grow in and will lead to your objectives. If it does not do this, you run the risk of giving the impression that you don’t really want the job, and are only applying because you have not been successful, and will move on as soon as something better comes along. While the latter is incredibly common (particularly at the moment, when for many graduates, any job will do) there is no point in emphasising it!
Q: What if I haven't done very much to fill up my CV?
A: This does not matter, everyone has to start somewhere, if sparse content is a problem use sensible formatting and fonts so that you comfortably fill one side of A4. Remember to make the most of using extra curricular activities to show commitment and leadership.
Q: Do hobbies and personal interests need to be shown?
A: It is not imperative to show your interests however it can provide an employer with an insight into your personality. If possible, choose hobbies that are closely linked to the job, and don’t ever include references to drinking. There is no point in giving an employer an easy reason to not call you to interview.
Q: Must references be included?
A: It is advisable not to include references as part of your CV. A small note stating that 'References available on request' will be sufficient, unless you have a personal reference from someone well known in the industry.
Q: What should be on my CV?
A: Contact details, education, employment history, details of what you specifically did in each role.
Q: What shouldn't I put on my CV?
A: Religion, references, sexuality, why you left your previous jobs, all your school grades, a photo, lies, date of birth, nationality.
Q: Do I have to include all of my exam results?
A: No, just the most recent and a summary of your A-Level, GCSE qualifications will be enough. The more experience you have, the less educational information needs to be included. By the time you have a degree and a few years of experience, your GCSEs (and details about A levels) can drop off to give you more room.
Q: In what order do I list information?
A: Contact details at the top, a brief introduction, employment history, education, interests, and hobbies.
Q: What sort of paper should I print it on?
A: The best quality that you can get your hands on, but use common sense, do not get paper that is too thick. In most cases, CVs should be emailed.
Q: In what text format should I save my CV so that it can be e-mailed?
A: The best way to send your CV is in PDF format, attached to an email, along with a cover letter and any other requested documentation. This is the most presentable and easy to read format. Ensure that margins are even, and all headings match. Remember to keep the format as simple as possible. If a new version of Microsoft Office has been released, use the most standard one, just in case the employer does not have the most recent version.
Q: How can I ensure that my CV will be read?
A: CVs usually aren't read at first, they are scanned. With that in mind you should build your CV to be easily scanned by sight:
• Present information in concise, compact statements. Avoid large blocks of text.
• Organize your information so that the reader doesn't have to hunt for your skills.
• Use fonts and text styles consistently to provide visual structure to your document.
• Leave plenty of white space so it isn't cluttered.
• Sprinkle industry buzzwords and use fresh, positive language.
• Leave irrelevant, unnecessary or inappropriate information off your CV.
Q: Do I need more than one CV?
A: Construct a 'core CV' using the 'How to write a killer CV' guide then configure that to the recipient each time you send it out. Refer to the articles 'Tailoring your CV' and 'Targeting your CV' for more detailed information. If you are regularly applying for different types of roles within the same field (or part time and temporary jobs, then it might be worth having a few CVs to minimise the amount of editing necessary.
Q: How far back should I go with the information I put on my CV?
A: Ten years is a maximum. Go back further and you run the risk of rambling on with irrelevant information or, worse, dating yourself. However, there are certain situations in which experience from more than ten years ago may be advantageous to show on your resume. In this case, it is usually a good idea to taper the descriptions of your experience as you work back (making entries less detailed). Another option may be to find another way to show experience or qualification from more than ten years ago.
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