What CV Problem?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 - career change, career management, CV Help, CV Tips, Education, Employment, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, job search, tutorial

What CV Problem?

Who's the Boss?

Sometimes, when I get asked for CV Help to fix a CV problem which can not be fixed in the CV. Occasionally, the problem is with the job applicant, and not the CV.

The signs are normally a high turnover CV, and lots of present rejections from employers in response to Job Applications. Classic signs of either applying for the wrong types of jobs, or the having one large or a serial line of CV errors.

As opposed to being a standalone CV writer – there does not exist a perfect CV in isolation: a CV is a sales pitch against a job. As a recruiter my aim is to bring my experience to CV writing to get the candidate their ideal job as quickly as possible.

A CV, as a factually based sales document, reflects facts of your career: this job, for so long, responsible for this and resulting in these achievements. So if its high turnover, and specifically changing not just employer but also sector and skills, the question has to asked: why? If you can’t answer that, then you can’t answer the same question from the employer:

Why this job, why this market, and why this company?

And in light of your past record, will you stick at this?

Every job seekers faces the first question, its the second question you need to equally answer if you have a high-turnover CV, eg: more than three career sector changes in the last five years. Think this question sounds unreasonable? The cost of recruitment of a new employee alone will be over £3,000, and training around 1.5x the jobs annual wages. Payback hence for most recruits doesn’t occur until year three of employment, even for unskilled labour.


The key actually to getting a job for these rare types of people is to answer the question for themselves: why did you exit this job/career? Answer that, and you can then pick the right career for you moving forward.

Often in these cases, the problem is not actually the career choice or sector, it is more about the workplace environment and people they found themselves in, and simply they need a more supportive environment around them. But they conclude – incorrectly – that it is the job, and hence change sectors/training. This results, if they find a series of unsupportive people environments, in a high turn over CV – and then a meeting with me to ask for CV Help!

In example, please read this story, not untypical of an early 20’s person who has changed careers a few times:

Sarah asks: I need advice regarding my CV? I made some changes to my CV and I need your advice. I’ve done a few courses over the years: webdesign, bartender, restaurant/cooking. With each I undertook some study, gained certificates and was highly praised. I am currently planning going back to college in September to do a holistic nursing course. I am looking for some summer work, which I can extend to allow me to train from September. My question is, with all the different courses that I have done, would you find it very confusing as an employer? I have explained to certain employers that I decided that I wanted a change in career. But in doing this, they say that this make me look bad in doing different courses. I met an ex teacher of mine who said that I can’t seem to settle in a good career or make good career choices; which I thought was really mean of him to say so. What would be the best thing to do with my CV?

In answer:

Firstly, I am glad that you have found the career choice that suits you. All those other choices must have seemed confusing or unsatisfactory at the time.

However, you probably won’t like this, but here’s the truth. In the short term what your ex-teacher is saying is what every employer you are approach will be asking: why do you want to do this; will you stick at it?

The problem with a high-turnover CV – particularly when people serially undertake training that takes a year or so to complete, and then exit that profession – is it seems to an employer you don’t like work but love training.

I think, before doing your next course, take some time and really think. Concentrate on the reasons for exiting those career choices – was it the wrong career choice, or was it the environment in which you worked or the people you worked with? What vision did you have of how things would work out when undertaking the training, and what were the biggest differences when you did the work?

Your reasons and reaction to that teacher suggest you take criticism – whether meant well or other wise – very poorly, and always in a negative sense. By looking at the reasons for exiting those other careers will allow you to understand what is going on.

This latest course may well be the career for you, I don’t know. Part of it working out is actually wanting to do it in the first place. One thing an old mentor said to me was: could you still feel enthusiastic about this 3days out of 5 in three years time; could you do it on a wet depressing Wednesday in November?

My thought for you is to find the pattern behind the reason for exiting these previous choices. I think – from what you have said – it comes down to the people environment being “right” for you, but only you can define that. Answering that would mean you find the right career choice for you, and are able to answer those employers “why” questions.

Asking the question here I think will result in it working out for you.

Good Luck!

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