Rate this thing that is a CV
March 31, 2011 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Again with the screen-punching.

Having got advice on cover letter writing (cheers all), I was wondering if my CV could be given a glance-over as well. It can be found here.

People's main criticism for my CVs so far is that they 'lacked focus'. I've tried to focus this one, but any more advice on how to do so would be awesome.

I'm back working at the same inn that's mentioned halfway down my employment history; should I mention it twice, or leave it where it is and put two working dates on the entry, or move it up and put two dates? I was trying to go for chronological order and it's going to screw it up either way, heh. Or should I refrain from mentioning it at all? It kinda seems bad that I've gone back to work at the bartending after I shifted out of it, and I was wondering if it would reflect badly.

I'm also planning to remove that 'prize-winning' bit, as I mentioned in my previous post. I uploaded this CV a week or so ago, before remembering I should have removed it :-/.
posted by Fen to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would leave the inn at the same place, but add the later date. You're being honest, but not focusing their attention on that gig.
posted by ldthomps at 5:46 AM on March 31, 2011

I can't comment on some of this stuff because I'm American (for example, if you were American I would tell you to take out the part about having a clean driving record and your high school grades, but maybe that's a done thing to list in the UK, I have no idea; I don't know what a Young Enterprise company is but maybe that is a well-known thing where you are), but here are some bits of content advice:

-You have a lot of bullet points for every menial job you've ever worked for even a short amount of time. A two week externship has like four bullet points when really it probably shouldn't have any at all; two weeks is not enough to learn much in the way of job skills that the employer would care about; the externship should only be listed to show your interest in the industry. The point of the bullet points is not supposed to be to catalogue every job responsibility you ever had but to demonstrate something that you think an employer needs to know--e.g. I can't imagine why the publishing industry would care that you handled credit card transactions at an inn. That's probably what people mean when they say it lacks focus.

-The IT stuff in particular is pretty weak; you mention it as a strength in your summary but the actual examples you have of concrete skills include things like you can use Internet Explorer and install software, which are the kinds of skills I would expect employers take for granted from any applicant under like 60. If you want to showcase IT as a skill (and I'm not even sure this is worth doing in a publishing industry app) try to brainstorm for something more impressive.
posted by phoenixy at 5:50 AM on March 31, 2011

(PS on Googling, it's possible that my advice about removing bullet points may be American-centric and not apply to a CV. In which case, please double-check with a qualified UK resident before following!)
posted by phoenixy at 5:59 AM on March 31, 2011

I agree with ldthomps and phoenixy in their comments. Here are a few more from giving it a quick look-over. It's not comprehensive, but I don't have much time today.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:37 AM on March 31, 2011

I don't have much time to look it over because I have a meeting in a few minutes, but the first thing I noticed was your frequent use of "was". This word is not necessary.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2011

This is a curve-ball suggestion, but have you considered laying it out in something other than MS Word? I would suggest LaTeX (as you mention in your hobbies you like computers and writing!) and it's fun. A non-free alternative could be InDesign. I assume you send out a pdf when applying for jobs.

Here are my quibbles:

I think this sentence is too long:

I have completed two weeks’ work experience in the editorial department of a publishing house and volunteered for several months as a proof-reader for an independent online publisher, and I am keen to take up an entry-level position in the publishing industry.

You start three bullets with 'Was....'. I would replace this with a different verb, or a different sentence structure. Alternative verbs could be 'Developed, created, made...'

I found the IT skills section a little cluttered.

I don't like the way the date appears differently on both pages.


Overall, I like your CV and I think it had a lot of integrity as you appear to honestly describe your skills and experiences. Best of luck with your applications!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 7:33 AM on March 31, 2011

hmm, further musing.
two weeks’ work
Is this apostrophe correct?

As an aside, my mind goes into critical overdrive when someone claims to have a good command of the English language in their CV. It's so hard to have a document without any errors!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2011

This CV reads like you just listed off everything you ever did. It does not read like you are trying to get a job and it certainly doesn't read like you want a job in the publishing industry.

"Entering billing data and generating invoices." Who needs to know this? In what way will I be more likely to employ you in the publishing industry if I know you can enter billing data? I'd lose every single bullet in this CV that's not relevant to publishing. Anything that you can reposition as "customer service" should stay in, since that suggests that you can work with other people, which gets extra brownie points.

If you can't think of a single thing you did in a particular job that reflects well on you as a candidate for the job you want, put a single generic bullet for that job and write more in the sections about the more relevant jobs.

I'd move your "volunteer editor" gig up into the "jobs" section just to get it higher up; it's a lot more relevant and interesting than work waiting tables.

I live in the UK and I would also remove your non-degree-level educational achievements. I'd rewrite the "skills and qualifications" section to remove anything not useful in publishing - for example, your typing speed. Leaving this in just gives the impression that this CV has gone out in identical form to everyone under the sun including low level data entry gigs (lack of ambition!) and the Geek Squad. If the list of publishing-relevant skills is too short to stand up on its own, mention whatever is left in your opening paragraph and lose the standalone list of skills altogether.

Somewhere buried in a bullet point it says "BSi proofreading notation". Surely this is a more useful skill to mention further up than "knowledge of MS Paint" ?

You mention "setting up and maintaining Amazon and Ebay accounts". If that was your idea, then write about taking initiative to improve the turnover by starting up their online business, or something like that.

If you can't say something more interesting about your "reading and writing" hobby then leave it out. Reading what? Writing what? Why?
posted by emilyw at 7:41 AM on March 31, 2011

two weeks’ work
Is this apostrophe correct?

= the work of two weeks = plural noun, therefore apostrophe is correctly positioned.

For me it's too many bullet points in the first section starting out with "Was...", I'd prefer to drop them:

o Won a departmental award and cash prize for the quality of my work, having "attained the best standard of work and scholarship in the year in the realm of English language."
o Membership Secretary and Treasurer for the university Scuba-Diving club.
o Part of a panel of reviewers during a scheme to publish a book of schoolchildren’s poetry.
o Managing Director for of a Young Enterprise company that qualified for the Regional Finals.
posted by ceri richard at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2011

Preamble--I don't work in human resources, but I have been on hiring committees, trained new employees, and have plenty of experience working on other people's resumes. Hope this helps:

My initial impression was that your resume looks like just any other one. Someone above mentioned LaTeX, which may help. Another idea is to try formatting it so that it suits the industry you are going into. As an example, I upload my resume to employers' sites as an HTML file linking to external CSS and images. (I don't know anything about publishing, sorry. Maybe you can make it look like a book cover? Maybe you could use references as blurbs on the back cover?)

However, don't feel you have to put lots of bells and whistles on it. Just consider how to best represent yourself, how conservative (or not) the industry is, and go from there. If a creative presentation is not an option, write something more professional looking. There are many resume templates online that you can use or build upon.

I agree with what others have said about the "IT" stuff. It will be assumed that you know how to operate a computer. I doubt the typing speed is important, unless you're applying to work at a call centre or something. Also, I don't see why a clean driving record would matter in your industry (?). Do move your volunteer work up so that it's chronological by end date, as someone else said.

"Employment History" is a soulless term--the kind that appears on bank forms, mortgage applications, and possibly McDonald's applications. Consider something like "Professional Experience" instead (this way, removing the bartending and income assistant jobs would make more sense too).

You outlined a lot of good assets and experience in your resume, but try to articulate them as what you can bring to a role/potential employer. Employers don't want to know how smart and awesome you are; they want to know what you can do for them. Since your experience is on the thin side, I would probably put related skills and knowledge first, then education, then professional experience.

Just off the top of my head--for skills and knowledge--do you know specific publishing programs/software? Do you know certain style guides well (AP, Chicago, etc.)? Have you ever taken any courses/certifications outside of school that would help? How about the business side of things--you mention eBay and Amazon, which is a start--anything else like that?

Again, I don't know about publishing, so YMMV, but the point is to play up your skills, knowledge, and experience rather than reciting a litany of tasks. In other words, what sets you apart from the crowd of other candidates of your experience/age? Focus on that, and don't worry about putting down every little thing you've done. Good luck. Mefimail me if you wish.
posted by methroach at 11:36 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Cheers all.

I'd figured that basically everyone can use a computer too, and I felt stupid putting those things down, but almost every position I have applied for specifically states in the description that they want someone who "must be able to use word processing software / use Excel / be familiar with basic image editing / must be a capable web browser" etc. so I figured I should mention the basic stuff if they're specifically asking for it.

Stupid statement here, but tbh I'm not sure what it means to "sell your skills to an employer". Is it just making sure that the skills I have match what they put in the advert, or is there something else? I'm also not sure about the "what can you bring to a position that no-one else can" stuff. I can do what they said they need doing in the advert, but I don't know what else is needed other than that.
posted by Fen at 5:41 AM on April 1, 2011

You can mention the basic IT skills, but give them as little space as possible and focus on the rarer ones.

Selling your skills means describing them in a way which makes it easy for the employer to make a connection between what you can do and what they need.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:54 AM on April 1, 2011

Things they might value in any employee, besides the things they list in the ad:

- learning quickly
- working well in a team
- working well with challenging personalities
- having the ability to overcome difficulties
- attention to detail
- being self-motivated and able to work independently
- being able to understand the business side of things
- communicating well with people
- having some initiative; being able to come up with good ideas and (if required) execute them
- being able to adapt to their culture and way of working
- going above and beyond your job description (in an appropriate fashion!)

If you can cast any of your previous experience as supporting evidence for any of these things, that counts as selling your skills. "My attention to detail led me to be trusted with the stocktaking" is far better than "Cashed up the tills every night and did quarterly stock takes". And so on.
posted by emilyw at 5:57 AM on April 1, 2011

Yes, what emilyw said.

Check your mefimail in a bit.
posted by methroach at 9:31 AM on April 1, 2011

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