Friday, 10 January 2014

What's the True Purpose of a CV?

A CV will not get you a job. This is one of the first things I tell my groups when running CV Workshops. Far too many people are under the illusion that a CV will lead, somehow, directly to employment. It’s very rare that a potential employer, upon receiving your CV will give you a call and say, “I’ve received your CV, can you start Monday?” It’s far more likely they will say, “I’ve received your CV, are you available for interview on Monday?”

The true purpose of a CV, therefore, is to get you an interview. And the sooner we understand this the better.

Getting a job is a game of two halves. In the first half we do everything we can to get an interview. The second half is all about the interview and impressing the employer in a face-to-face situation. We need to be the best we can in the first half to have any chance of ever getting to play in the second half!

Once we understand the true purpose of a CV we can start to look at what should not be included. One thing we can do is conceal our age, especially if we think it will stop us being considered for an interview. How do we do this? Simple, only go back 10 or 15 years in your employment history and leave out dates that you attended school. If we only go back 15 years we are putting ourselves in an age bracket starting around the mid-30s. Are we deceiving the potential employer? Not at all. We are simply giving ourselves a chance to sit face-to-face in an interview and discuss what we can do to help his/her company.

Now, let’s take a look at something that should be included in your CV . . . references. So many times I hear people saying it’s fine to just include a sentence such as, “References available on request.” Wrong, and here’s why. Imagine, for a moment, I’m an employer and I receive two CVs – one with references and one without. I like the look of both candidates and decide to interview them after I’ve had a brief chat with one of their referees. The first CV I deal with has no references just the usual “available on request,” line. So I phone the candidate. They are on a bus somewhere. I tell them I’d like to interview them but would like to chat with a referee first. Can they give me a referees’ details (remember, it does say “available on request”). Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the candidate doesn’t have the details with them and promises to call me when they get home. I then call the second candidate. Again, I tell them I would like to interview them after having a chat with a referee and I ask if it’s OK to contact one that is on their CV. The second candidate – who also happens to be on a bus somewhere – has to do little more than say, “yes, that’s fine.” I make the call, everything is good and I call the second candidate back to arrange an interview. In the meantime, I’ve forgotten all about the first candidate, whose CV is gradually disappearing to the bottom of my “to do” pile. The second candidate is by far my preferred option because the wheels are already in motion. Chances are I will have quickly forgotten about the first candidate, simply because I couldn’t follow up references at a time that suited me. Include your references on your CV.

If you’d like to learn more about CV preparation then take a look at our CV Workshops.

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