Colourless and Verbose: You’re excellent… but how’s your CV?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011, 13:22 | Category : General
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A new service that mixes infographics with CVs and LinkedIn profiles caught my eye yesterday – http://www.vizualize.me/. Looks like a very interesting piece of technology, memories of the recent Intel ‘Museum of Me’<http://www.intel.com/museumofme/r/index.htm> project, but more than anything it got me thinking about CVs in general.

Love or hate them, the standard CV does not seem to have changed much in the past 10 years, and is not going anywhere just yet. Whilst LinkedIn profiles are often the best way to get the most accurate reflection of an individual’s career to date, every brief we respond to (freelance to permanent) requires a CV at the earliest of stages. We can do all we can to pull out experiences and match profiles to roles, but a CV can still be what makes or breaks the chance of that first all-important meeting or call.

We work with an array of incredibly experienced PR professionals, so it is amazing that, even in my short time at The PR Network, we still see people that completely fail to sell themselves to their greatest ability.

I am by no means the oracle when it comes to the perfect CV. In my experience, it depends on the agency or organisation in question, and it always helps to understand who will be reviewing e.g. MD or HR? Whoever it is, you can guarantee they’ve seen a fair few, so trying to do things a little differently is rarely a bad thing.

Technologies like that above are far from the absolute solution, but it is great to see services like this that get people thinking about different ways to present themselves. Granted, a colourful CV with pictures and numbers all over it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but neither is an 8-page bullet-point list of every PR task you’ve handled during your 15 year career.

Given that most of us have, at some page, been on the receiving/reviewing end of CVs, it would be great to hear any of your own turn on and turn offs – so we’ll start a discussion on our LinkedIn page (The PR Network Buzz Board). To get you started, here are some from the PRN team:

Turn-on

– Less is more – one side of PDF can have a great impact

– Tailored highlights section – try replacing the bog-standard paragraph with a list of your most impressive/relevant achievements

– Businesses and Brands – you’ve got 30 seconds to highlight where you’ve worked and brands you’ve worked for. Get them on one page and you’re laughing

Turn-off

– An overview of you – 75% of the CVs we see have them and the majority read the same. Most of the time this will be ignored

– Pictures of you – certainly not going to improve your chance, and likely to do more damage than good

– Attempts at comedy – like the above, they’ll find out when they meet you, no need to go down that road beforehand

– Irrelevant content – they very rarely need to know your exact list of GSCEs, schools and work experience projects

– Personal interests – if you like travelling, sport and film you are just like everyone else. If there is something very impressive that is relevant to the application highlight it, if not it’s a good section to cut out

– Typos and poor design – keep it simple and stick to a format. It should go without saying, but 10% of those CVs we see contain silly mistakes

Until next time,

Russell

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