The structure of a CV is the subject of much debate, with conflicting views holding equal validity. Over years recruiting for marketing jobs, the consultants here at Brand have naturally seen a variety of valid and successful CV layouts, so we are going to use this experience to give our views on some of the common points of contention.
- Address or no address? – companies may reject you for living too far away, or you may be more attractive to them as you live nearby. Either way it is best to convey this information sooner rather than later, so we would recommend including your address on your CV, along with an email address and phone number. If you are applying through an agency, however, do not bother – all of these contact details will be removed.
- Curriculum Vitae – do you need to state this, or CV? Not really, yet it does no harm, so unless you are short on space, leave it in.
- Marital Status and Age – these are unlikely to work for you, yet despite discrimination legislation, they can work against you – leave them off.
- Chronological versus Skills-based – there are advantages to both, yet we believe that chronological makes more sense as it gives the reader a complete overview of your achievements during one role. Naturally ‘achieving a 150% increase in x or y’ is more impressive if it is one of many achievements. You can use a ‘Summary’ or ‘Profile’ to outline your key selling points
- Referees – leave these off, they are not required until offer stage. Similarly there is no need to write ‘references available on request’.
- Exam Grades – if you are not a graduate, give the grades for the highest level of examinations you have sat, and a summary (i.e. 8 GCSEs) of other qualifications you have. If you are graduate, include these and the class of your degree. Omitting the class of your degree is going to raise eyebrows.
- Schools/Universities – names will suffice, dates are optional
- Education or Career First? – use your initiative here. If the job spec says ‘2:1 degree or higher’ then clearly this is important to the employer up a few lines to detail your education and tick that box (especially if you have an amazing record) and still fit your most recent roles on the first page.
- Profile or Summary – whether or not to include this is perhaps one of the most fiercely disputed CV debates, with another battle raging within the ‘yes’ camp as to whether this should be in ‘prose’ or bullet points. We do feel that a well thought-out set of bullet points (no more than five or six) can work well and instantly prompt a reader to pay more attention to your CV. Use either outstanding achievements or those related to the job spec.
- Interests/Hobbies – Does an EMEA Marketing Director really want to know that you run 10 miles every Saturday morning? Yet on the flipside, does the same person want to employ a dull, insular character? This is where a recruitment agency can help as they can gauge the culture and advise on the best tone to use. When sending your CV to an agency, include them – we are often asked for candidates ‘with an interest in xyz’.
- Reason for Leaving – leave this out, again, it is unlikely to help you, yet it may work against you. Be prepared to explain all at interview, though!
- ‘I’ or ‘John Smith’ – do you use the first person or third person? We recommend writing your CV in the first person, but then trying to lose as many of the ‘I’s as possible.