Our CV expert answers your questions
We asked our ACCA Careers LinkedIn followers a question: If you could ask a CV and cover letter expert one question, what would it be? The best questions would then be answered by our CV writing gurus at CV Writers.
We got really good questions, which we’re going to share here, with the responses from CV Writers. You can see the original post here on our LinkedIn page – if you don’t follow us at the moment, you should!
Q: What are the worst things candidates always put in their CV and cover letter?
CV Writers: The thing I would advise against more than anything – and things that many people still include – are photographs and personal information. You want your CV and cover letter to be assessed purely on your ability to do the job. Including a photograph or any personal information, such as age, sex, religion or marital status, can induce sub-conscious bias on the part of the reader. This can influence the decision of the recruiter even though they may not realise it themselves. Although it is impossible to completely eradicate sub-conscious bias, the more you can keep this to a minimum, the fairer the recruitment process to all applicants.
Read more about this here
How detailed should you be when explaining work experience and activities at school, college or university on a CV?
CV Writers: This depends on what stage of your career you are at. As a graduate or student you may include more information on college/university, such as modules, presentations or dissertations that demonstrate particular skills you have acquired outside of the work place. As you progress further in your career, work experience becomes much more important than academic qualifications carried out a long time ago, so you would generally only include the name of the degree/qualification and awarding body.
We’ve written a guide here to help you write this part of your CV.
What keeps you awake at night?
CV Writers: At the moment, wondering what the new normal might look like after lockdown and hoping we don’t see another major spike. In normal times, bad CVs keep me awake. In fact, they give me nightmares, so here are five tips to avoid your CV giving you nightmares too!
What do recruiters see in the first thirty seconds of reading a CV that causes them to reject or proceed?
CV Writers: Many recruiters work via a negative decision making process, ie they are looking for reasons to discount a CV. This means absolutely no spelling mistakes and ensuring consistent formatting. So do not give a recruiter the chance to dismiss your CV with basic errors and ensure the CV looks professional. When writing a CV it helps to think like a recruiter. Here is an article to help put yourself in their shoes.
How do I present myself appropriately through a CV? Sometimes I feel I would have nailed it if I was face-to-face, but my CV is just not that influential!
CV Writers: There could be many reasons why your CV is not working. However, you are not alone in feeling more confident about interviews and less so about your CV. You can manage situations much more easily in person. With a CV, you are at the whim of the recruiter! It is important to structure your CV effectively. Here is some guidance on how to do that.
What's your definition of a well written CV? Put differently, what key things do you consider in a CV?
CV Writers: There are many aspects that define a good CV, too many to put in a single answer here. We have produced a video for ACCA Careers on the key things to consider in writing a CV that I think will help answer your question more comprehensively. Watch the video here: https://jobs.accaglobal.com/article/cv-writing-for-experienced-hires-video/
How can you make your CV attractive to recruiters without work experience, as most jobs require work experience?
CV Writers: Without work experience you are going to have to demonstrate your expertise using transferable skills. This is when a skills or competency based CV comes in useful and advice on creating a CV for interns or early career professionals can be found here
How important are cover letters and what elements make a good cover letter?
CV Writers: Cover letters are still an essential part of the job application process and are required for around 40% of applications. A cover letter is a further opportunity to market your expertise and tell the employer why you should be considered. Keep the letter short – no more than one side of A4 with three-to-four coherent and concise paragraphs. You can find out exactly how to write a brilliant cover letter here
These responses are provided by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers.
CV Writers are the official CV partner to ACCA Careers.