Recommendations for CV writers

Discussion in 'Education and Resettlement Courses' started by whitbycrab, Dec 13, 2010.

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  1. I left the military in July armed only with the CV I wrote during my CTW. In that time (and I started applying for jobs in March) I have had no job interviews and I conclude that it might be my CV at fault. Before I throw away money on a bad cv-writing service, can anyone recommend a good one? Thanks
  2. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Talk to/PM meridian, he set up a thread containing CV and Covering Letter layouts, I believe he might evn have a go at tidying it up for you in return for a donation to a suitable military charity.

    Though you would have to speak to him direct.

    edited to add: Here's the link to meridian's CV Thread -
  3. I do this for a living. Job hunting is a big lolly to suck and advising folks can't all be done online unfortunately.. Perhaps Meridian is your man, as well as a good egg. Some of the best advice I've seen was here .

    Try a well presented, quality portfolio for interviews, we've even sent inexpensive portfolios to recruiters by post (those we were confident of a bloody good chance, anyway) and it worked a treat. Some recruiters don't ask for a CV, so perhaps in those cases, brush up on your interview technique. (linky)

    Good luck with your job-hunting process (linky)

    Hope this has helped, or will help, and that it complements whatever Meridian and others can do for you.

    To add: once, after a job interview, I sent a single page letter thanking the recruiter for the opportunity, describing what I'd learnt and thought about the company and their operations. Worked a treat. But, that just worked for me, I wouldn't want to go canvassing too often, depends on the situation and their "rules" of their game.

    The 'Modern' Combination CV | Career Advice |
  4. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Sorry you haven't had any luck thus far. Some thoughts:

    1) You'll need to tweak your CV for each vacancy. Employers are looking to match specific skill sets and what suits one employer will not suit another. Look at what they are asking for in the job advert and emphasise those matches in your CV. You don't have to lie - just give examples from your experience. For example, if you've done courses that are pertinent to a civilian job - emphasise them.

    2) Your covering letter will have to reinforce your CV by giving further indications you match the employers skill set. The covering letter will need to be custom written for each employee. Good time keeping and personal discipline would be things I'd play up based on your military background.

    3) Employers are trying to answer two questions from your CV - does this person have the skills we want and will he fit into our organisation? Make sure CV and covering letter answer those questions.

    4) If you haven't already done it, go down to your local library and get out some books on (a) writing CV's and (b) interview skills.

    Good luck

  5. Yep - your CV is at least part of the problem, others could range from location, skill set .... anything. There are candidate shortages for all sorts of jobs all over the country, it's in part a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

    Meridian's format is fine, although there is an emerging trend for the following:-

    - Basic details

    - A one paragraph statement about you " I am a bronzed war god with 10 years experience in ........"

    - Couple of short paragraphs on your key personal and technical skills - bullet format is easier to read.

    - Table of your past jobs with dates - if over 10 years, do not list 'em all, just the more recent.

    - About a dozen bullet points on past achievements " Managed, Budgeted, Lead a tema of 20 and achieved ..... actions and achievements, not just a dull list of in 1996 I created a great spreadsheet.

    Two pages, Three absolute outside.

    If a junior person list stuff like MS Office applications that are outside the norm - vision, MS project - and ONLY claim that you are a Ninja at excel if you genuinely are ( I interviewed a candidate this week that obviously tried to bluff me - immediate fail). Also include any true professional qualifications ( I'm not interested if you are an Affiliate Fellow of the Royal Collage of Haberdashers, unless I want you to make a frock) For most jobs you will be expected to be very competent at excel, word and powerpoint - put 'em down if you wish, but things like PRINCE are more important as they are picked up in word search software and get you shortlisted.

    Some more.

    1. Get all your paperwork sorted. They consultant will want you to move quickly, so have the email for disclosures at APC to hand, passport ready and in date and one of two good personal referees. Don't worry about written references, hardly worth the paper they are written on. Once you hand in your reference checks, utility bills and passport, the stuff will be checked by a low paid mong somewhere in a low pay country, so make it easy.

    2. Spelling ...... FFS ...... so many CVs have mutliple spelling errors and they stick out like the dogs danglers, so get your most retentive mate to check the document.

    3. Make it easy for the recruitment consultant - in your covering email, include 6 points that relate EXACTLY to the SPECIFIC job that your are applying for - points for him to be able to sell you to the interviewing manager. Best his/ her best mate, he/she will pretend to be yours, but you are only one of many and he is only interested in securing a commission.

    4. Be prepared to take a cut in pay and status initially, you will probably make it up but the greater community has a very limited understanding of the Army, less so the RN or RAF. So Darren, the spotty faced 20 year old part time DJ will be your first boss and do stand in awe at the stories he has to tell about how tough it was on both of the TA weekends he did before he quit!

    5. Be polite but energetic. One of my recent joiners was on the phone to me at the first sniff I had a role going - positive, focussed, professional. If you still experience problems, NEVER take it out on the consultant, they remember. They are salesmen ..... help them make the sale.

    6. Do an interview course and learn the STAR answer technique - 90% of people interview poorly despite their experience and skills. The CV gets the interview - the interview gets the job. Most interviewers want you to ATFQ .... so do ..... and then stop talking, nothing worse as an interviewer than thinking " when is this prat going to shut up and ATFQ". I recently had to redirect a candidate four times to ATFQ - they didn't get the job.

    Hope some of this helps, don't be discouraged as a member of HM Armed Forces you weren't paid to be a salesman, but that is what you are doing now. ...... selling yourself and that is the hardest thing to do.

    Best of luck, there are employers out there looking for good people. Hope you nail it.
  6. The problem with most service leavers, is fitting everything you have done onto one CV. Most blokes completely under value some of the things they have done, and struggle to put it into "corporate speak".

    There is a company in Glasgow called Inspired CV's ran by a guy called Dave Chalmers. Dave specialises in finding out exactly what you have done in you're time in the military, and transposing it into corporate speak. Some of the things we take for day to day, actually transpose very well into a CV. Having been in a similar position my CV was fine, but didnt tell employers in civvi speak what my core skills were. I took it to Dave and he spent a bit of time working out what I had done and put it into Corporate Speak. Since then I have had alot of interest from Companies keen to speak to me when I get out. Dave also has alot of contacts in the recruitment industry.

    Inspired CV's - Expert CV Writing based in Glasgow

    The initial consultation is free
  7. Here's your starter for 10:

    Your CV (or curriculum vitae or resume) is the most important document that you’ll ever write – more so than even a dissertation or thesis, because without a good CV you will never get the job you want.

    This is your first contact with a potential employer, and its one purpose is to sell you to the hiring manager and make him/her want to meet you in person for an interview. At that point you sell yourself, but before that your CV is your sales representative. It should convince the hiring manager that you are suited for the job.

    The CV also serves as a discussion document and script for you during the interview and it also serves as a reminder to the hiring manager after the interview.

    Whilst writing your CV, bear in mind that you are writing it for another person, and not yourself. It should be concise, clear, informative and interesting. It should also be the place where you list your achievements as they relate to the job you are applying for, and show why you should be the person hired for the job. It should also, of course, be honest and factual. Leave out any irrelevant information.

    Remember FAB – Features – Achievements - Benefits.
    Features – the skills you have which make you unique
    Achievements – usually quantifiable – the contributions you have made to your employer succeeding
    Benefits – if your CV is written properly then the person reading it will work out the benefits of hiring you.
    Remember FAB as you write your CV.

    Regardless of your experience, the CV should never run to more than 3 pages, although one or two pages is the ideal. As headhunters we have found that the longest CV’s always belong to the least qualified people, so do not fall into this trap. If your CV is going to be too long, remove some of your earliest jobs, as they are unlikely to be relevant anyway.

    Most people have a broad range of skills, and whilst one position you apply for will require one part of your own skill set, another position will probably require a different part of your skill set. It is therefore likely that you will need more than one CV, each one highlighting different skill elements. (N.B. – always keep track of which CV you send for which position, so you can take the right CV with you when interviewing).

    Don't have mention your salary expectation in your CV or covering letter. It gives the impression you're mercenary, and only interested in money.

    Whilst there are many different formats for CV’s, all should contain the following information:

    · Your name

    · Your details- address, contact telephone numbers, email, DOB. Be careful about using your company email address and/or telephone number on your CV. Many larger companies have filters which scan in-bound and out-bound emails for key words, including ‘CV’, ‘Job’, etc. Is your company one of these? Similarly, would you feel happy with this information stored in your office PC, just in case anyone else should look at them?

    · “Mission statement / Profile / Objective / Summary – this is a 4 or 5 line paragraph which gives a ‘snapshot’ of who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for. It is in effect an advert, advertising you and your skills, and should make the reader want to carry on and read the rest of your CV.

    · Skills - if you work in an industry such as I.T., you should mention your specific skills or knowledge by listing the software/operating systems with which you are familiar.

    · A reverse chronological (i.e. most recent job listed first) list of where you worked, in what position, your duties and

    · Bullet-pointed achievements including your role, what you did, and the results.

    · Your professional and academic achievements and professional training and/or development courses, as well as membership of any professional bodies/associations

    · Details of any published work

    · Any non-work related achievements (i.e. significant sporting achievements etc.

    · Brief personal details. Is it relevant to say that you are married with two children?You may also want to include awards received, computer competency like Word, Excel, drivers’ licence, and membership of clubs.

    · Languages – DO ensure that you put any language skills on your CV. You should mention each language, and your skill level in both the written and spoken forms. Skill levels are usually fluent, moderate and conversational. Do not be tempted to overstate your skill level, as you are sure to be tested in some way.

    · Spelling and grammar - the main failing point for CV’s is typographical errors. If you were employing someone and received a CV full of errors, would you call that person in for interview? No, you probably wouldn’t. It is therefore crucial that you spell-check and proofread your CV several times before it goes out. Most people use Microsoft Word for word-processing, and that programme includes a spell-checker, so use it. (N.B. you have an option to set the language to either U.S. or U.K. spelling. If you know that the person you are writing to is American, U.S. educated, or working for an American firm, set the default to English (U.K.). In addition, regardless of whether English is your first language or not, try to get a native English speaker to check it for you as well – a fresh pair of eyes can often spot mistakes which you won’t.

    · Dates - give the month and year (e.g. Feb 00 – Jan 04) that you started and finished each job. Never just put the year, because a reader will assume the worst and think that you are trying to cover something up.

    · Don’t include any jobs that lasted less that one month.

    · Action Verbs – words that will give your CV more punch:









    · Try to begin each point with a verb - this helps your CV appear more dynamic and focused

    · Paper - Use a good quality white paper, typically 100gm in weight and watermarked. Never use coloured or gimmicky paper to try to stand out – you will, but for the wrong reasons!

    · Gaps in your CV – many people have gaps in their employment history, either because of continuing education or perhaps because of redundancy. Gaps will be noticed –it is therefore better to “pre-handle objections” by answering a question about a gap before it even arises.Try to emphasise the positive aspects and gains made during these periods.

    · Don’t type “CV” at the top – it will be obvious to whoever is reading it. Start with your name.

    · Font size – never use anything smaller than a 12 font (usually either Arial or Times New Roman). You must do everything you can to make your CV as easy to read as possible. If the person reading your CV wears reading glasses, a small font will make it difficult.

    · Don’t refer to yourself in the third person (“David is an effective….”. Instead write, “I am an effective…”)

    · Bold Type – for headings can be effective as long as it’s not overdone.

    · Tables - Do not layout your CV using a table – it does not look good to the person viewing it.

    · Margins – don’t make the margins too large or too small.

    · Photos – don’t include your photo unless you are applying for a job as a model or similar.

    · Page size - always use ‘Page Set up” to ensure that your CV is A4 size, otherwise it will not print out correctly.

    · File Name – remember that when you email a CV to a hiring manager, the CV will be saved on their system, so make it easy for them to find your CV. Don’t save it as “myCVFeb04.doc” or something similar, as that will be meaningless to another person. Save it as something like “CHAN, David - CV.doc” or similar. When you have different versions of your CV, add a number to the end of the filename to remind you of which one a particular company has.

    · File format – your CV may look great when you send it, but will it look the same when it’s opened as an email attachment? It is usually safest to send your CV as a Microsoft Word document, as that is the most widely used word processing programme. When you save your CV, make sure that you click “Print Layout” under the ‘View” button at the top left of your screen. You should also avoid inserting any type of image file in your CV, as many companies’ virus checkers will stop it being delivered.

    · Hobbies and Interests - Listing interests on a CV can help develop a rapport with the hiring manager at interview if you share the same interests. However, avoid putting down such generalist interests as “reading”, and “travelling”, unless they are particularly specialised (such as reading ancient Tibetan poetry or similar, or traveled to the North Pole or climbed Everest), in which case do include it).

    · Don't fax your CV to a company. You don’t know what the quality of the machine at the far end of the fax might be like, and even if it is down to their machine, black lines on your CV reflect badly on you. E-mail or post it instead.

    Re-Reading your CV.
    Once you have written it, re-read it, have someone else re-read it, and ask yourself and them if you would interview or hire you on the basis if this CV. If the answer is ‘yes’, then go ahead and send it out!

    I'll add a bit more in the a.m.
  8. Cheers, Dave!

    For what its worth, in my experience its essential do it yourself. It saves you cash, means you know it inside out when asked about it, and - most of all - is an excellent opportunity to think at length about what YOU as a person ( not who you have been taught you are by the Army ) are, where you want to go, and what you can offer to those who can help you along the way.

    Doing it yourself is also an excellent opportunity to get networking - its an ideal way to kick off a chat with ex-forces guys through ARRSE / LinkedIn, or whatever forum... "I noticed you're working as an xxxxxx - whats it like? I'd like to learn more about it, what would you reccommend? How would you suggest I adapt my CV?". With any luck they'll lend a hand, and maybe pass a copy to a friend on the sly. Devote time to finding and getting in touch with the right people in two or three different areas you're considering and within a month you'll have three good CVs tailored for each industry. Not bad, and a far more active approach than sending it to someone else. Tougher too, but thats the point.

    Good luck to all of you looking...

  9. Sounds rather like my CTW in Colchester! All good stuff.