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The importance of a professional CV – First impressions really do count!

I am always amazed by the poor quality of some CV’s that I receive from prospective candidates. Sometimes I just can’t help myself and I have to respond, just to tell them they have the worst CV I’ve ever seen, other times I just hit the delete button. But seriously, given that your CV is the tool you use to not only sell your professional self, but as your first impression to open doors, shouldn’t you ensure that the document is professional?

It may surprise you, but lots of people don’t go to much effort with their CV and I can’t help but wonder if it has some reflection on them as a person. I mean, if you can’t be bothered to go to the effort when selling yourself, is that a sign of how you will perform as an employee – does it mean you are lazy or do half a job?

I often hear excuses of ‘I haven’t had to ever put together a CV before!’ or ‘people in my industry know me!’ well, times change and so do hiring styles and management philosophies, and well, here you are talking to me now about a job, so where is your CV? Modern companies want to see a CV! Often as a recruiter, we can sell someone into a business or get them an interview based on our reputation as someone who can qualify candidates. This is great, it means there is trust between us and the client, however the client will still want a CV for reference and if the CV doesn’t reflect the skills purported, then it doesn’t bode well for the candidate (or our reputation).

This brings me to the importance of having a document that is professional and accurate, that reflects your experience and gives a glimpse into how you would present yourself as a professional.

Common mistakes to avoid when preparing a CV are as follows:

  • Misspelled words, missing punctuation and poor formatting – just don’t do it!
  • Pictures. Unless you are in a creative role and they are specifically relevant to your job, leave them out or have them in a separate portfolio. No one cares what the building you used to work in looks like.
  • Not explaining what you do! Surprisingly, ‘sell products’ is not really a responsibility of your role. Your future employer wants to know the HOW! The ‘HOW’ and what you actually did is often left off a CV. Instead you should explain – ‘selling products by actively developing business relationships through cold calling, relationship management and client meetings’… sounds better eh?
  • Repeating the same things over and over. Repeating the same things over and over. Yes, you may be employed in the same industry doing the same job, however every work place is different and it is good to show some diversity in your CV. I have seen lots of CV’s where the people copy and paste the same responsibilities word-for-word for every job they have had! Don’t be LAZY!
  • Memberships. These are for Professional Memberships, not Video Ezy. Believe it or not, the amount of CV’s I have in my database where candidates cite the local RSL or video shop is actually quite scary!
  • References and referees. Your previous colleagues, managers, boss is not a referee! You need to provide details for references from immediate managers, clients that you have dealt with regularly or even staff that have directly reported to you. When the references lead you on their own journey, it raises lots of suspicion. Also, don’t ever get your brother to pose as a previous manager with a made up name! We will find out! Yes, some people are that stupid!
  • Gaps in work history. Don’t try to cover up gaps in your work history, but be honest and explain them openly. Honesty is always the best policy in a CV.

The thing to remember is that a CV is a living and evolving document, and that realistically, not one generic document can ever sum up all your skills. I see a trend these days towards the one-page CV with fancy graphs and charts and not too much relevant information. My clients hate them, so do I! Your CV needs to find the fine line of being not too long and not too short! Candidates who have the most success follow this rule and often have several versions of their CV or will tailor their CV to the actual job they are applying for.

A CV is so important, so give it the time and presentation that it deserves. In a market where there is so much competition for jobs, a simple thing like a CV will cost you the position or interview when the competition is better presented.

A few tips for preparing your CV are below:

  • If you haven’t prepared a professional CV before, we strongly encourage you to seek professional advice in how to best compose a CV. You can also search online for ideas on how to draft a relevant, proper and correctly formatted CV.
  • Never have grammatical errors and misspelled words in your CV. Your CV is the first representation of yourself that an employer will go on to get an idea of who they are going to interview and potentially hire to be a part of their team. If your CV contains errors, it can diminish your chances of getting the job.
  • Ensure your CV is sent from a professional sounding email address. Believe it or not, email addresses like chickmagnet@abc.com or partyanimal@xyz.com would cause most employers to question the professionalism of the applicant. Send your CV from an email address that has your full name in it separated by an appropriate punctuation mark. Remember that first impressions are vital!
  • Include a professional references section and cover letter. This will ensure that you are providing your prospective employer with all the relevant information about you. Include any special skills, achievements and qualifications as well as a list of those who can support your credentials and work experience.
  • Never put false information in your CV. As your first tool in getting the job you want, your sense of honesty and openness will definitely have a lasting impression with any prospective employers. Stick to the facts and don’t embellish your experiences. A skilled interviewer will pull you apart and pick up on any embellishments or falsities that are represented.
  • And finally – get a copy of the position description and tailor your CV to the actual role! There is no point having irrelevant information on your CV. Yes, you may have other skills, however if you are going for a position that is looking for a specific set of competencies, there is no point talking about something else.

Should you wish to seek help in drafting a professional CV, Martin Walsh Group can assist. Check out http://martinwalsh.com.au/your-resume/ for further information.

Published 21/09/2016

James Walsh – Director
Martin Walsh Group
e: james@martinwalsh.com.au
m: +61 410 637 497
www.martinwalsh.com.au