Everything you always wanted to know about CVs but were afraid to ask…
1. One page, two pages, 6 pages (!!!), what’s really the ideal length for a CV?
A CV should be NO more than two pages. No matter how much work experience you have. Even for very experienced workers, detailing jobs you had over 10 years ago is irrelevant. First, because you might have a very different role now that you had back then. Second, if you did some tasks many years ago, chances are it’s not how they are done anymore. The workplace evolves a lot in a decade: the technologies, the manners, the regularities… Go back ten years, tops. Two pages tops.
2. Fact: We should tailor our CV to the position we’re applying to. For which cases is it most necessary and how specific should we go to adapt to a role?
It’s very important to adapt your resume when you have had many different “types of jobs”… For example, if you’re applying to a sales coordinator position and your CV features roles in customer service then an accounting job and then a sales rep position… it’s important to let the “reader” know what career path you’re aiming for because it’s not obvious.
Find the skills that are transferable from your previous jobs and highlight them in relation to the job that you are aiming to get. Simply remember that whatever’s on your CV, you have to have the confidence to do it. Don’t write skills you’re not sure if you could really do simply because they’re listed in the job description or because you did it ten years ago.
3. Personal statement or CV headline. Yes or no?
Yes, if it’s formulated like a career objective that puts the resume into context and links the different experiences of the CV… For example, it could say something like: “Looking for a job as an accounting technician where I can use my skills & experience to greatly impact a company’s bottom line.”
It should help the reader identify quickly what type of position you’re applying for and what you have to offer in a job. It should save the reader’s time by stating a clear objective.
4. Hobbies, interests, non-relevant work experience: scrap it or keep it?
I think it used to be relevant, but not so much anymore. Honestly, it’s simply not what a hiring manager is looking for when going through a CV.
But really, I’d say it depends… it’s a case by case scenario. If you are applying for a job at a company that promotes fitness… or to a lifestyle brand, then yes it’s an asset if you enjoy yoga or hiking, and in these cases, there is value in leaving those hobbies on your CV.
5. What are some information/sections that should be featured in our CV?
Again, it depends on the position, but the general rule of thumb is education/diplomas, softwares, jobs (not necessarily in that order!). The thing to keep in mind when writing your CV is to be sure to give really obvious and tangible reasons to the hiring manager who’s going to read it why they should bring you in for an interview.
Finding skills on your CV is not supposed to be a treasure hunt. A good way to highlight your strengths is quantifying as much as possible your tasks and accomplishments. Example: I increased my department sales by 30% in the first year.
6. What are some information/sections that we can safely remove from our CV?
(As said above, if not related to the position you’re applying to) Hobbies, interests. That surfing trip from 2013. Again, it’s not that it’s not interesting, it’s just not what an employer is looking for at that step of the hiring process.
7. What about the file itself: are PDFs preferred to Word docs? How should we title the file?
I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s legible and has NO spelling mistakes. Remember: your resume is your opportunity to make a good first impression.
One thing that is important is the Font as well. It should be not too small and not too big. Nothing fancy… Classic & conservative are a very good bet. Even if you’re a designer or something, a CV isn’t a portfolio.
8. Any big redundant clichés to avoid?
Let’s just say that job seekers can’t possibly all be detail-oriented, professional, and perfectionist. But seriously, people seem to be having a hard time coming up with qualities or abilities that are specific to them.
I feel like candidates put some of these very common/generic keyword qualities because they think that’s what employers want to see or that it’s the “right thing to say”. It often ends up looking like a lack of creativity and that you don’t have much to offer.
Think about it! What are you really good at? What are you most often complimented for at work? That’s what should be on your CV.