Best practices for CV/Resumes?

Friday, October 24th, 2008 - CV Writing


Gail asks: I am in transition and have recently written a CV/Resume. My transition firm, communications consultant and an expert resume writer all differ wildly on content, format, style and length. What are current best practices for resumes? If you have experience with electronic screens for resumes – please describe how the screens work and what key soft and hard skills should be included on the resume. Your input is much appreciated!

In answer:
I think the fact you have three differing opinions from three different professionals should tell you a lot – there is no standard or best practice in CV/Resume writing!

There are some better options of choice when writing an interview winning CV/Resume, and the basics are: black serif type face in a 10point and upwards scale; on a crisp white heavy paper; no more than 2pages; don’t over do the bolding or bullets; don’t forget to include your name, telephone number and non-childish eMail address; and read it at least thrice before you hand to at least two friends for their opinion, before reading it thrice again!

The problem you have not spotted I think is two fold on these differing opinions: (1) you are writing a general CV/Resume over a job specific application – hence each professional has an opinion on what you should be aiming at, the priorities of presentation of your skills/competencies, and what resultantly you should be applying for; (2) many forget the CV/Resume should be accompanied by a Cover Letter, and hence feel that focusing and scene setting information should be included in the CV/Resume – WRONG! The certified resume writer is probably picking up on this later issue as part of their service, but getting confused as to what you/the others want written down in the CV/Resume.

Having gone through outplacement/transition myself, I think you need do yourself a favour, and pick out three ideal specific jobs you would like to do next – ideally don’t make them company specific, but role/title would be a good start. I found at some point during outplacement service that yes I could be anything from an artist/teacher to a nuclear scientist, but those varying options got me as confused then as I was scared going into the process! Grabbing three that I really wanted to do was the end of the roundabout and the start of progress.

Once you have picked those three target jobs, picking out what needs to go any job application becomes easy, as does hence the writing of your CV/Resume and the resultant companies to address it to.

Online is easy – it’s a portfolio, noting more/nothing less. Don’t think about it as an online CV/Resume replacement, because you can’t make it specific enough for any one post/employer. Think about it as extending your application potentially beyond your Cover Letter and CV/Resume, not an alternative to.

I wish you luck in finding your new job, and if I can help you further please – just ask!

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