Emma's Reviews > High impact CVs: 52 brilliant ideas for making your résumé sensational

High impact CVs by John Middleton
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Mar 31, 2012

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bookshelves: books-read-in-2012, i-own, free-books, kindle-books, practicals, non-fiction

I am a recruiter. I spend 5 days a week reading CVs, conducting telephone interviews and arranging face to face interviews. I saw this book on amazon as a kindle freebie and clicked on it out of interest. The blurb they give on amazon is something along the lines of: a recruiter spends an average of 8 seconds on a CV before making a decision over a candidate. I've seen a lot of CVs since I've been recruiting with lots of different approaches. So I'm giving this a go to see what tricks are recommended....I'm usually a sceptic of these books that give you "brilliant idea" but lets see what we think:

Idea 1: Dream a Little Dream
For me, this is quite a key idea for candidates to get their heads around. Why? Well, once I've seen what candidates have been doing and think they may be suitable for a role, they go through a telephone interview. Here, these few questions become key when questioned on what have you done in your career and most importantly your motivations for working for our organisation or motivations for the particular role or just looking for a new opportunity as a general point.

Idea 2: Remember, Remember
I wish this tip was heeded to more by candidates. Middleton is absolutely right when he says "you'll be fighting a lost cause if you rely on the recipient spending their precious time sifting through your CV to locate the information they're particularly interested in". When you have 60 or more applications and CVs to sift through, having to look for the information is frustrating.

Idea 3: How long do I have?
This book recommends 2 pages. It's hard to do that, especially if you are new to your career and have done lots of temp roles and want to get them all down to sell yourself. But nothing frustrates recruiters more than having CVs that are 4 + pages long.

Idea 4: Eight potentially life-changing seconds
This is the time it takes to decide whether to continue reading a CV or bin it Middleton says. He's pretty right with this, particularly where there are high volumes of applications.

Idea 5: Me in a nutshell
Spot on with this one! Give me a professional summary any day of the week - but guys, try to make it relevant to the role that you are applying for to show you have read the job description, you know what you have applied for and what skills relate to this role.

Idea 6: What's your type?
Two types of CV: Chronological or Functional. If I'm honest, the one I prefer is the chronological one. I find that one much easier.

Idea 7: DIY CV
Bang On - nothing is better than writing your CV yourself. If you get grilled on this, you need to know it.

Idea 8: Cut to the chase
Lets be focused guys. As a recruiter I think this is really important. I want the key facts so I can make a decision.

Idea 9: Throw another log on the file
Track what you've applied for. I find it extremely frustrating talking to candidates who dont know what it is they have applied for or even the company.

Idea 10: Learn to speak 'behaviourese'
We like competencies. It's our HR speak.

Idea 11: Reading the Runes
Reflect the job advert in your CV. It makes it much easier for us if you know what is required and can evidence what you have towards this.

Idea 12: What am I letting myself in for?
Understand the company. Again, spot on with this advice. We like to know what you know about us and why you want to work for us.

Idea 13: Ditch the dodgy dossier
Don't lie, we'll find you out.

Idea 14: Numbers count
We all like numbers, we like to know how impressive you can be, some decisions are based on the volumes you have dealt with in the past. Follow Idea 13 here - don't lie, you'll get caught out.

Idea 15: Be an Achiever
Show off your achievements

Idea 16: Writing with panache
Be concise, write in the past tense, use the third person, avoid confusing turns of phrase, dont try and be funny, use plain english

Idea 17: The seven deadly CV sins
Dont show off: Pride; Avarice; Envy; Wrath; Lust; Gluttony; Sloth

Idea 18: Looks can Kill
Presentation is as important as what you say. I have to say this is one of the big things for me, if its badly presented and hard to read it takes much longer to get through, and its often a frustrating process.

Idea 19: Two CVs are better than one
Tailor make your CVs.

Idea 20: How to deal with the skeletons in your CV
Account for any gaps that there might be in your CV, in other words recognise don't ignore them. Job Hopping, show what skills you learnt from this.

Idea 21: Another Skeleton, another cupboard: redundancy
Explain it in a way that is professional and positive

Idea 22: Selling a one-company career
Show off your progression and the skills acquired

Idea 23: Take the Car
Challenge, Action and Result. Don't be coy about your achievements.

Idea 24: Corporate Prehistory
You are only as good as your last performance.

Idea 25: Show some oomph
Be positive. show that you are active, convey enthusiasm. Use strong words.

Idea 26: Act your age
This is a tricky one to get around with all the information about age discrimination. This is probably one of the tips I would steer clear of.

idea 27: Bob versus Robert
Do you have a name you prefer to be called? Why not use that on your CV?

Idea 28: I'm keen on ping-pong, playing the ukulele and going to the theatre
Get the on the Cv, theres no harm in putting it in there but it can be met with mixed responses from recruiters.

Idea 29: Set the right tone
Be conservative and be just that little bit different to stand out. But steer clear of Photos, humour, mess with peoples expectations. Match the CV to the job and if you get an interview dress conservatively.

Idea 30: Apply yourself
Spend time on your application forms, photocopy them and work on drafting them before you do the final version; use dark pen - its easier to read; think about what the organisation is looking for and tailor make your application; be clear and express your ideas; highlight your achievements and show what you have found out about the company; keep your own copy; use A4 envelopes

Idea 31: Surfing CVs
Recruitment is electronic. Highlight the key words for the role.

Idea 32: Transatlantic issues
Cv's that work in one place wont always work in another.

Idea 33: Please find attached
Is your covering letter essential or totally unnecessary?

Idea 34: Bring me the head of Johnny Recruiter
Rejection Factors: its straightforward, its grammar, its spelling mistakes, its too little information, its not directed to the advert.

Idea 35: Time to shed some pounds?
Salary is a good area to steer clear of in a CV, particularly if it is a lot more or a lot less than advertised. Save this for a face to face.

Idea 36: Reference points
Control the references you get, don't leave this to chance.

Idea 37: Is it convenient to talk?
This is a big bug bear of mine. If you are keen on a job, answer the phone or you will be passed over. Usually we will try 3 times to reach a candidate, and nothing is worse than unreturned phone calls or worse still phones that don't have voicemail set up. That is a sure fired way that interest will rapidly be lost in your application

Idea 38: Bend the facts a little
Make sure that the job title is not an acronym that no-one understands - if it needs to be altered slightly so it can be understood, do so

Idea 39: Detox your CV
Keep whats needed, get rid of the rest

Idea 40: Is your CV fitter than you?
If you get to an interview make sure you look the part, this will have a better impression

Idea 41: I'll show you mine if you show me yours
Get some feedback on your CV - it's the only way to improve

Idea 42: Quality versus Quantity
One thing that drives me mad as a recruiter is a candidate who has stumbled across our website and applies for everything - and not just everything in one field, but every vacancy we have. It's disheartening as a recruiter to have to reject the candidates, and I'm sure its disheartening for them to receive. The advice here is totally right, sometimes being focused with the applications is as important as getting your CV out there.

Idea 43: Networking
Use your contacts and make sure you build and maintain your contacts.

Idea 44: Perfect your personal elevator pitch
This is about being memorable, but being clear and succinct.

Idea 45: Dealing with specialist recruiters
This is all about relationship building essentially.

idea 46: Handling Interviews
Make sure you are prepared for this. And remember what was on your CV

Idea 47: Handling rejection
Be positive about the rejection and continue to look for what new opportunities there may be. Ask for feedback

Idea 48: Avoiding the poisoned chalice
Make sure you are looking for opportunities that will enhance your career not destroy it

Idea 49: Manage the brand called You
Show what makes you special. This is down to you, you have to create this and maintain this.

Idea 50: Do you even need a CV at all?
Not all careers need CVs, but even if that is the case now, keep a record of what you are proud of and what you have achieved just incase the situation arises. Sound advice

Idea 51: Treat your CV as a vade mecum
Have it there to use when needed - again sound advice.

Idea 52: One last thing (20 actually)
Make sure you follow a checklist for your Cv to get the greatest results. This is common sense like contact details, making sure you have targeted the right role in your profile, there is evidence there to back up your statements, checking typos

All in all there is some pretty sound advice in this book - I've summarised the headline areas above and added some personal reactions in particular areas. If you are looking to enhance your CV to find that new role, or things aren't quite working out for you on the application front, I would give this book a try. Some of the things in it might seem obvious to you when you are reading them - but they are the kind of things that are so obvious they get forgotten about when it comes to the crunch. Sound advice here.

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Reading Progress

March 31, 2012 – Started Reading
March 31, 2012 – Shelved
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: books-read-in-2012
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: i-own
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: free-books
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: kindle-books
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: practicals
March 31, 2012 – Shelved as: non-fiction
March 31, 2012 – Finished Reading

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