Job Search Brief Click  HERE

“Eighty percent of success is showing up”     Woody Allen

Although The Brief – see Link above – deals with CVs for ease of reference some ideas are offered below.

The CV

“And so, if anyone were to ask what I want out of life I would say the opportunity for doing something useful. For in no other way, I am convinced, can true happiness be obtained.”      

Eleanor Roosevelt

Elsewhere it is suggested that there is no such animal as the ‘Perfect CV’.  Such a judgment however may be challenged by this CV which was not only original but also successful (50 interview requests and 12 job offers):

IMG_0126

IMG_0123

Before embarking on some thoughts on CVs this observation is offered on the matter of Business Cards.  For most it is likely that networking Business Cards will be a necessary pre-requisite to the circulation of CVs and are an essential tool for the networking process.  Such cards should be easily read and avoid being too ‘flash’.  That said, there is nothing wrong with a spot of innovative thinking:

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Bearing in mind that the CV is probably the most emotive aspect of a Job Search Campaign it has been decided to devote this posting to:

CVs: Covering Letters and other letters; Application Forms; and certain Job Search-related documents such as Supporting Statements.

Since there is no DS solution to the CV Job Seekers are strongly advised to write their own CVs and not to waste precious time and money chasing the alleged ‘Perfect CV’.  In recognition of, and as a counter-balance to, my own bias the advice includes advice/opinions from a variety of sources.

Of course the CV Package is only one aspect of a Job Search Campaign and Job Seekers should think ‘package’ since a poor quality Covering Letter can negate all the hard work put into creating a CV.

THOUGHTS ON CVs/RESUMÉS

“Under no circumstances ‘civilianise’ your career – the outside world understands and I believe that using ‘pseudo-management speak’ to describe a military career is counter-productive” 
Senior Manager Investment Manager (Late Inf)

Introduction

Remember that no two people will sequentially agree on how a CV should look so do not devote too much time to re-writing your CV in an attempt to please the last (probably opinionated) adviser!

Although showing yourself in a favourable light, the contents of a CV must be truthful otherwise prosecution may result.  It is a general rule of life outside the Forces, sadly, that belief should be earned and not guaranteed so do check out unsolicited claims circulated on the Internet (eg, the myth that Starbucks refused to sell coffee to Royal Marines) at www.snopes.com

In the modern world Many CVs are e-mailed and a couple of tips are offered:

Ensure that the e-mail address quoted on the CV is hyperlinked
Send the CV as a jpeg file eg Save it as “CV XYZ Coy AUG2010” – This shows you have personalised the CV for that firm

A penultimate introductory tip – if you are regulated by the FSA then it is always a good idea to state the functions for which you are approved to carry out and your own FSA registration number.  The hiring firm/headhunter will have to get this anyhow, so if you can provide it then you are saving them/us valuable time.

The final thought here is – tell the truth.  Lies on CVs will be identified by such companies as CV Verify and www.checkyourstaff.co.uk  As a job seeker you can gain a vetting certificate.

Selling Yourself

“If your CV makes you cringe a little with embarrassment, then you have probably got it right”  Alan Jones
 
“Those who beg in silence starve in silence.”  Indian Proverb

Introduction

Whether Mr Jones is right or not it would seem that the average campaigner in the UK employment market either has a remarkable propensity for the ‘undersell’ or simply does not recognise his/her qualities and selling points. This condition may result from our disinclination to ‘show-off’, preferring the understatement, or a genuine lack of awareness of our qualities or that never before has a campaigner had to explain his/her qualities to the outside world. Accepting that there may be an element of all three in many cases, it is the last one which merits consideration at this stage.

Even now, many of us have served either within the same company or commercial activity for most, if not all, of our working lives and the need to exclaim publicly our qualities has not really existed; we have progressed, or otherwise, based on our results. Thus, when we change jobs we are not used to advertising ourselves, and if one is a victim of right sizing confidence in our selling points may not be high anyway.

Two basic rules emerge from these deliberations:

Assume that the ‘target’ has no knowledge of you and your achievements, and is certainly a victim of his/her own preconceptions

Everybody has something to sell

To demonstrate these rules, in the hope that the campaigner will be encouraged to embark upon some personal lateral thinking, let us look at two cases:

The Barperson

A Possible Perception:                                 

Unskilled; Untrained; Unemployable elsewhere; Probably part time

The Reality:

Tact/diplomacy; Listener/Counsellor; Mathematician; Communication skills; Listener/Counsellor;
Memoriser; Well presented ; Health & Safety knowledge; Punctual

The Armed Forces

A Possible Perception:   Unqualified; Escapist; Free travel; Do not pay taxes; Lives in free houses; Unnecessarily aggressive; No chin (officers only); Talk in first person; Listen to RA Band at breakfast

The Reality:

One third of career being trained; Management spent one fifth of career training others; Transferable skills; Independence of action; Well travelled –not homesick like British Lions Team!; Initiative; Teamwork; Rigorous selection process for initial entry; Combat experience; Loyalty, adaptability, self-discipline, self-reliance organization, resourcefulness, leadership, integrity, decisiveness, commitment and a sense of responsibility – in the round we are perfectly normal human beings!

The Selling Document
 
Introduction. The basic selling document is generally referred to as the ‘CV’ (Curriculum Vitae) or, in some circles, particularly the USA, the Resume. It should be recognised, however, that application forms are playing an increasingly important role in the selection for interview process (see below). It is also important to appreciate that, the CV is aimed at gaining a job interview, or advisory meeting in the context of speculative approaches; a CV is not designed to get you a job.

Prejudice. There is enough disagreement about the optimum CV to sustain a whole industry of advisors with their own views on the right answer. This is very confusing for the campaigners and sometimes they spend money on having their CVs ‘professionally’ produced. The reality is that the only right answer is to give the target what he/she wants and that is not always possible. You can, however, make every effort to find out the prejudices of the target by asking around and/or using the telephone. For example, consider the advertisement run by a Search & Selection Consultant which offers an information pack; when you telephone ask the additional question: “do you have any particular preference for CV presentation?”

Accepting the existence of prejudice is fundamental. If you choose to ignore it on the basis that you are proud of your CV you will severely damage your campaign. At this stage only three examples of prejudices encountered by this author are offered:

The consultant who throws away any speculative CV which has a Profile

The Personnel Manager who discards any CV that does not carry the headings: “Responsibilities” and “Achievements”

The consultant who assumes that where a CV states: “May 1993 to Present” the writer is trying to conceal the fact that he/she is out of work

Thus the CV debate is often based on emotion and prejudice rather than fact. In an effort to redress the balance, we have drawn on a survey conducted by Ashley Recruitment Ltd [9] which sought the views of some 500 employers, recruitment consultants and academics.  The objectives of the research included identifying:

What recruiters want to see in a CV
any differences between the views of consultants and personnel managers, and, if   so, measuring those differences
Whether there is any difference in views between industry sectors, regions or those who recruit for junior, middle or senior management posts

The survey was piloted to eliminate any ambiguities and anomalies with the final questionnaire being divided into three main headings: content; format; and presentation. The main findings of the survey, having been processed by John Arden Research of Manchester using Marquis software, were:

Personal Details: 98% wanted full names, addresses and telephone number at the top of the CV; 93% also wanted Date of Birth (DoB) most also wanted age (NB. Since this survey the law has put a stop to DoB/age being requested).

Profile/Summary: the majority wanted a three/five line summary about the candidate. This preference was highest amongst the academics (89%) but, interestingly, 25% of the recruitment consultants disliked a Profile.

Career Aims: most wanted to see a short statement of career aim(s). There was little difference between the views of personnel managers and recruitment consultants but academics were particularly enthusiastic (94%)

Other Personal Data: despite the fact that the Institute of Personnel & Development (IPD) urges recruiters only to seek information essential for the successful performance of the job, and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) states that information must satisfy a “a genuine occupational qualification”, a surprisingly high percentage of respondents said they wanted personal information which may not always be defensible. Information wanted by recruiters was:

Marital Status: 84%
Nationality: 75%
Age of Children: 55%
Photograph: 30%
Religion: 10%

Academics were, however, more sympathetic to the EOC guidelines – 39% did not want marital status and 44% did not want age of children

Self Assessment/Views on Own Characteristics: Out of the total of respondents only 49% wanted this and of those recruitment consultants who expressed a view 44% said they did not want it.  The perception of such information was that it tended to be too subjective, had a negative effect and would be viewed with scepticism (it could be suggested that the candidate who describes himself/herself in particularly glowing terms is revealing rather more about their true personality than they might wish; for example “tall, good looking senior manager whose recent departure from Snoggins and Brass caused grief to all the staff he left behind” might be interpreted as “arrogant swine”)

Skills and Interests: most wanted these included

Education: a vast majority were particularly keen to see details of further education, degrees and professional qualifications. Greater emphasis was placed on GCSE details by those who dealt with junior/middle management.  Some commented that only the highest academic qualification need be mentioned along with professional qualifications.

96% regarded the inclusion of a foreign language as important at all levels, particularly among those     recruiting for senior management posts where two thirds considered it essential.  Respondents also commented that they also wanted to know the degree of ability and whether this was in written, oral or at a technical level

Training: 94% wanted details of work related training, although those who commented said that this would include only those courses which were of a reasonable length or after which a qualification was obtained.  Respondents were less emphatic about other training courses, but even here 78% felt that they were either essential or useful

Employment History: 99% wanted to see names of employers, dates of employment, appointments and responsibilities (at least 80% overall felt that the inclusion of all these declarations was essential).

Over 80% wanted to see a brief description of the company and its business.  Nearly two thirds of the recruitment consultants felt that this was ‘essential’ but only a quarter of personnel managers felt the same way.  Those dealing with senior management appointments put greater store on this than those dealing with the more junior levels.

90% wanted to see Achievements listed; this was reflected across all categories and levels of     management recruitment.  Details of published works were particularly favoured by academics and were considered essential by educational and technical/R&D positions; 50% of all respondents wanted to see these details

Remuneration: 86% wanted recent salary details, although some suggested that such detail should be included in the covering letter.  There was less concern about starting salaries and salaries in earlier appointments.  They also wanted to know whether the candidate had a company car

50% of personnel managers were keen to see a statement of expected salary, compared with 25% of recruitment consultants and 28% of academics. This higher percentage might indicate that personnel managers are more concerned about the ability of their salary bands to accommodate new recruits

Format: 86% wanted personal details to appear below the name and address, with non work activities at the end of the document.  With regard to the length of a CV the response divided itself as follows:

Preference for one page: 4.6%
Preference for two pages: 53%
Preference for three pages: 20.5%
Preference for more than three pages: 2.6%
No reply: 19.2%

This means that, of those who expressed a view about the length of the CV, two thirds said they preferred a 2 page product (A4).  There was an emphasis for shorter CVs from those dealing with senior management posts

Further findings were: 64% wanted educational history to appear immediately after Personal details; 85% preferred employment history detailed in reverse chronological order; and 86% wanted responsibilities and achievements listed under each appointment rather than shown on a separate piece of paper

Presentation: 77% of respondents did not favour ‘professionally’ produced CVs and 35% said they actively disliked CVs written by so-called professional CV writers.  This figure was highest among recruitment consultants (44%). Of those who dealt with senior management posts 36% said they disliked them; a major reason being that such CVs did not allow the candidate’s personality to shine through.  Furthermore, 74% said they could easily distinguish CVs written by professional CV writers; the majority (54%) of recruitment consultants said they considered this very easy

Additional Information: the only additional information wanted by respondents were details of health and disabilities

Drawing conclusions from statistics can be misleading (for example, if 10% favour religion details, some might assume that 90% are actively opposed to such a declaration!).  Moreover, we have only dipped into a long report without even looking at the way in which the questions were posed.  Some common threads, however, do emerge:

Overall there is no significant difference between responses across the broad industry sectors or geographic regions

There is a growing preference for the inclusion of summaries about the candidate (the ‘Profile’ rather than the ‘Self Assessment/Personal Characteristics’)

Academic qualifications are important; professional qualifications are particularly important. Work related training, however, only has appeal if it either leads to a qualification or is of sufficient length to suggest real added value

Mention of foreign languages is particularly important especially to those who recruit senior managers

Failure to disclose current salary details can be very disadvantageous, particularly if so asked

Perhaps the overall conclusion should be that the exercise confirms the view that there is no ‘right answer CV’ largely because targets adopt different approaches (ie, the Recruitment Consultant’s approach will differ to that of a Personnel Director who, in turn, will differ from that of a Headhunter etc)

Suggested Ideas.  Convinced in the rightness of one’s approach often leads to laying down principles or worse still rules.  This contribution resists the temptation to be dogmatic, offering ideas rather than a template approach. Campaigners may wish to consider the following thoughts:

Do not pay somebody else to write your CV.  Aside from the expense, and that is often considerable, and the findings of Ashley’s research consider four fundamental points.  First, you will be interviewed, not some third party, and you must be familiar with every word in, and nuance of, the CV.  Second, as discussed in Chapter 6 a high proportion of job applications require a tailor-made CV; you cannot market yourself satisfactorily with a standard product.  Third, the covering letter can often be as important as the CV and that may not be part of the package on offer from the CV writer.  So, sad to relate, written communication skills are nationally low and where a target detects that a CV package has been professionally produced, a rat may be smelt – rightly or wrongly.  If you really do run into difficulty and lack the imagination to generate a CV there are people who will help you at no cost (eg, Royal British Legion Industries Lifeworks Course)

Esoteric Speak. Beware of using esoteric language, particularly if you are moving to a new discipline.  Although the Armed Services are frequently accused of this, it applies to most professions.  That said, it is important to maintain a sense of balance since excessive translation into a common denominator language can often lead to a CV which says nothing.  For example, a Serviceman claiming leadership qualities should feel free to use that term rather than the anodyne ‘motivating influences’. Sometimes the effort to explain can increase incomprehension as with the Royal Navy officer who described himself as Chief Executive of HMS Mudlark; did he mean Executive Officer or Captain ?

Target Knowledge.  Never make assumptions about the target’s knowledge.  Consider describing companies/organizations mentioned in the CV and most importantly for executives/managers where you fitted in the hierarchy

Conflicting Advice. As discussed, there is plenty of this.  Two points are offered.  First, do not get depressed.  Second, remember that we are all different. A 20 year old is, for example, may find it difficult to fill up a one page CV whereas a 40 year old has the opposite problem

Running With a CV.  The decision to run with a CV rests with the campaigner.  Launching a campaign, at someone else’s behest, with a CV package which does not please the campaigner will probably lead to grief; irrespective of belief in a product, unease about its wrapping inevitably denudes motivation

Revisions. The wise campaigner will be improving/developing the CV throughout the job search process; it is an iterative process.  If interviews or meetings are not being secured, then this might be attributable to the CV; do not, however, assume that it is the cause.  Other reasons might include: marketing yourself at the wrong level; marketing yourself in a sector which does not suit your qualities/background; and recruitment has ceased in the sector you are targeting

Tailoring. For the job that is really wanted, the tailor-made CV is the optimum solution.  For those jobs which might be classified as ‘nice to have’ consideration should be given to tweaking the Profile to create the illusion, at least, of tailoring; for a true example, consider the IT specialist who wanted to keep his options open, in particular, in Human Resources:

His CV Profile generally started:

“Information Technology (IT) Consultant….”

which he changed, in a matter of seconds, to:

“Human Resource (HR) Manager…..”

This simple ruse secured an interview; indeed he made the final short list of three but ‘failed’ the psychometric assessment.  Not having experienced such an assessment, insted of being honest he tried to second guess what the debriefer wanted to hear.  Moral: Acknowledge that such assessments play an important part in the recruitment & selection process (approximately 70% of all jobs) and sit some so that you are relaxed when doing it for real.  They are not about right answers but are about honesty.

Friendly Read.  Commonsense should tell you whether or not your CV is a friendly read; it needs to be both friendly and informative.  Pointers might be: typeface – too large or too small; too many punctuation marks like confetti smothering the document; poor spacing; injudicious use of bold; underlining in addition to bold/highlighting can be a distraction; too clever perhaps – with excessive use of ‘showy’ software symbols/pictures etc.  Yes, you must consider the minutiae of the package

First Page.  Aside from any debate about length, aim to put the high quality selling points onto the first page

The Selling Structure.  It is a good discipline to analyse your life under the headings: “Responsibilities” and “Achievements”. Too often CVs are an aimless list without conclusions being drawn. For every responsibility or work related activity you write down in the early drafts ask yourself the question: so what? If the answer offers a tangible result then that can be reflected as an Achievement; consider:

Responsibilities:

Supervised the club bar
Controlled the fixture list

Achievements:

In less than 12 months raised profits to unprecedented levels
Met all match requirements, successfully deconflicting potential double booking pressures on the  gymnasium and 8 playing fields

The Selling Order.  With or without the Responsibilities and Achievements structure, the selling points should be displayed in descending order of importance

Word Repetition.  Every word must count and space is at a premium. Using headers like “Responsibilities” and “Achievements” can help to avoid repetition

Sins of Omission. Be honest, since obfuscation through omission may allow the target to assume the worst; an example might be;

        Omission:                                                    Assumption:

No driving licence                                          Does not drive or banned from driving

Answer the Question.  Both the CV and the covering letter must answer the question.

Presentational Quality. Tips are: No spelling mistakes; high quality paper, minimum of 100g; do not fold, especially if the CV is printed on a bubble jet;

Imagination. Those who have detailed technical, or other, expertise the listing of which might clutter-up the CV, should consider the use of an attachment to the CV.  IT is an example of a fast moving profession which lends itself to such imaginative thinking.

Defeating Prejudice.  In this context imagination again plays a role.  Here is a tip from a City executive on how to overcome prejudice:

“The hidden language piece was some advice that I received from an HR Recruiter. When applying for roles always try and tailor the CV to the job description but in cases where you don’t have any evidence of those competencies you pick out the key words from the job advert and then write them all into the margins or footer of the CV. You then colour those words in white (so they seem invisible to the naked eye) – but when the CV is run through an electronic scan (as many large firms do) the computer ‘finds’ the hidden white words and pre-selects your CV for further consideration. All very cunning!!”  NB.  Believe it or not there is, on the one hand, anti military prejudice in HR Departments of The City whereas on the other a thirst for high quality ex Forces people among bank employees who will get to see CVs; to cover this eventuality consider declaring your military background with such key words as ‘Adjutant’, ‘Signals Officer’, ‘RSM’ etc.

Types.  There are two general types of CV and a sub species:

Reverse Chronological:  the most common and generally preferred, but can involve repetition, particularly in the case of a career progression in a hierarchical organisation, like the Armed Forces

Functional:  this can be useful to those who can offer a variety of functional skills but they must be put in context of dates

Sub Species: The Targeted CV: this is most relevant where a clearly identified job is being sought

The Check List.  These are the self-examination questions a campaigner should constantly be posing about the CV:

Do I Like The Look Of It?
Is It A Friendly Read?
Are There Any Spelling Mistakes?
Is It Relevant?
Am I Getting Interviews?  (If ‘No’ do not rewrite your CV as the default option.  There may be other   reasons such as going in at the wrong level)

Career Builder

Career Builder offered the advice: 10 things to leave off your CV which are shown at the end of this Brief.  www.careerBuilder.co.uk 

Example CV Structure

M J NICHOLSON BSc (Hons) (Michael)1
Hazeldene, Cross Lane, Dumsford, Surrey GU9 4XX
Tel: 01479 XXXXXX Mob: 07747 960 222 mike@thelist.co.uk
Health: Excellent Full & Clean Driving Licence

                                                                            PROFILE2

Senior Manager with extensive technical, administrative, management and training experience gained during a successful etc

                                                                     CAREER HISTORY

Finance Director, Craig Smith Ltd3                                                                            May 1992 to July 1996
International Publishing House
 
Responsibilities:



Achievements:
 



etc
                                                                 EDUCATION/QUALIFICATIONS4
 
   
                                                                                 INTERESTS5


1.  The Name: should ideally be ‘implanted’ in the target’s mind therefore highlight/bold is recommended; with the same principle in mind carry it forward to the top of the second page and any subsequent ones (remember pages can become separated).  Consider explaining your everyday appellation even if it is a nickname; friction can arise at interview if you correct the interviewer (for example, “its Mike, not Michael”).

Header Block: In the view of many, the combination of the Header Block and the Profile will determine whether the reader moves on.  The problem is that in many cases the first reader may not be the consultant, but rather somebody who has been deputed to select CVs for further examination based on detailed criteria.  The basic criteria might be, for example: age; driving licence; degree; languages; and management.  In other words a combination of information you would expect to find in the Header and the Profile  (this contribution is intended to offer job search advice to all and, while the principles may be universal, it is accepted that there will be presentational, and other, variations in their application; for example, whether a candidate for CEO of a major national company has or has not a driving licence is hardly likely to represent a crucial piece of information. In other words a degree of common sense is required in applying all the thoughts in this book and to those pertaining to CVs in particular)

Let us return to our deputy who not untypically may be sorting through 1000 CVs.  If you decide to address the issue of age/DoB will he or she be pleased to see no age quoted or merely a DoB? Answer: no.  Further, if the deputy bothers with the higher mathematics, and many will not, of subtracting the DoB from the current date, the right answer is not guaranteed.  Where neither the DoB or age is shown there is no certainty that the reader will bother to ferret through other pages (this, in my view, counters any suggestion that you should hide your age at the bottom of the last page thereby forcing the reader to discover your quality first).  OF COURSE THERE IS NOW NO REQUIREMENTTO OFFER AN AGE. 

Pausing here on this issue, in 2012 we asked three professional recruiters (one an HR specialist the other two Armed Forces specialists) the following question:

“I realise that it is illegal to ask for an age/DOB on a CV but if it is offered do you like it?  And would you pass that on to a client?”

Their responses were:

“I normally say that I am not allowed to ask for DOB but then ask what is it……it saves me looking it up in the red book (the RN and RAF are hopeless when it comes to providing anything nearly as good as the red book).  I never give the age of a candidate to a client but I may say that he is coming out as a junior captain etc.  Hope that helps”

“Putting a DoB or age on a CV is really not acceptable these days so probably best removed or left off” (Recruiter for HR Sector)

“I do, yes.  It’s part of profiling a candidate and in most cases I would pass it on. It’s a very sensitive subject and the bottom line is a candidate doesn’t want to feel discriminated against, which is fair enough. HOWEVER (in caps!), most recruiters live in the real world and will fall in line with their client’s request (whether on or off the record) – unless one wants to walk away from the business. If I ever get challenged I assure candidates it’s merely part of our profiling (which it is) and that we are looking for the best candidate for the job.

Many leave their DoB off and the HR recruiter’s comment above is not entirely true – it’s a choice on the candidate’s part but it’s not too difficult to work out as you can track when they left school!”

The Header Block Layout.  By laying the information across the page in the manner shown, in four lines the candidate has put across all the essential information. This could save vital space further down the page allowing you to bring forward key selling information onto the first page which might otherwise be condemned to the second one. What a sadness it would be to condemn a USP to a page which may not be read. The length of the CV is of less importance than the selling quality of the first page; once a reader is hooked he/she will read on.

Beware of the Obvious. It is suggested that space is wasted by such statements of the obvious as:

“Curriculum Vitae” (often misspelt so why risk it anyway?)

“Name”:

“Address”:

Summary.  The Header Block is a crucial component of the CV and should be constructed with a view to not being rejected at the first hurdle.

2.    The Profile.  Remember that not everybody likes to see a Profile so, where possible, determine the target’s preference. When used, the Profile should be punchy and factual, not given to subjective statements leading to the self-aggrandizement which is too often a feature of self assessment (that said you will recall from Chapter 6 that 49% of those questioned wanted to know candidates views on themselves but then those who are given to such self descriptions as “tall good looking executive whose recent departure has caused grief from the Boardroom to the typing pool” might be giving away more than they imagine).

Thus, the Profile needs to be packed with attention grabbing facts like:

Speciality, experience and level (eg, Human Resources, ten years of which three at Board Level)

Skills: IT (anybody looking at middle management+ needs to be able to claim some practical knowledge of Word Processing, Databases and Spreadsheets): languages; presentational; organizational; planning project/contingency; appraising; counselling; interviewing; motivating; team building; communicating; negotiating; leading; analysing etc

Well travelled (not to be sniffed at.  Recall a few years back when the Nation’s tough Rugby Team got homesick.  A failed overseas posting costs a company a lot of money (eg, bringing the malcontent  home and replacing him/her)

Special selling achievements (eg, published work(s), prizes, Swords of Honour etc)

There are two highlighting style options for catching the reader’s eye:

Option 1:

Information Technology (IT) Consultant with a strong technical and analytical background and an excellent record of achievement developing and implementing diverse systems at strategic levels. Experienced administration and personnel manager with practical knowledge of Health Safety at Work Act and ISO 5950 implementation. Internationally experienced and fluent in German and French.

Option 2:

Information Technology (IT) Consultant with a strong technical and analytical background and an excellent record of achievement developing and implementing diverse systems at strategic levels. Experienced administration and personnel manager with practical knowledge of Health Safety at Work Act and ISO 5950 implementation. Internationally experienced and fluent in German and French.

The Profile should be in the order of 4-6 lines, any more runs the risk of losing impact and repeating information which is likely to be found elsewhere.  Try to avoid leaving a single word on a line it wastes space. In this context you may need to check the justification; through left justification the problem of single stray words occupying whole lines may be overcome.

3.    Career History Headers.  The framework example is a reverse chronology CV, it might therefore be assumed that the first header deals with the most recent experience. Thus, the suggestion is made that, since we read from left to right, it is more important to catch the reader’s eye with details of the appointment rather than the date.

Note also that the Header, has been highlighted, reflects the company name, states level within it and says what the company does.

4.    Education/Qualifications.  Some would argue that Education should be placed at the top of the CV either in lieu of a Profile or above it.  Again there is no right answer but you may care to consider the following questions:

As a Graduate, with some business experience, I have declared my degree in the CV Header do I really need to reiterate that information, albeit in more detail, a couple of lines later?  My answer would be: no

With little or no commercial experience, my education and qualifications are my key selling points, should I put them at the top of the CV below the Header?  My answer would be: yes – you do not have the background or experience to generate a selling Profile

Although this section should also reflect the reverse chronology approach, avoid a blow-by-blow account of school qualifications, with each passing year they have less relevance. For example if you are a graduate the following should suffice since the Degree generally subsumes earlier academic achievements:

St Mary’s, Featherstone (3 x A; 10 x O)

Beware of listing trivial/short courses.  On the one hand the two day Helicopter Handling Course circa 1972 will not impress but on the other, the five day course on the H&SW Act might.  So one option is to list such courses under a sub heading of Short Courses.

Record linguistic skills here, even if you have no formal qualifications (eg, colloquial French or business German).

Membership of professional bodies should also be stated. Those which are qualification based are more likely to impress than those which are not.

5.    It has been said that some employers do not like a declaration of interests on the grounds that you should be devoting all your efforts to the company.  On balance, I believe they are worth recording – you never know somebody on the interview panel may have a common interest.  They assume particular importance for team activities like Project Management; thus team sports rather than solo mountaineering are a god bet

Danger points are:

Bluff.  Do not, for example, say you like reading if it is not true – you may be found out.  You are selling you not what you think ‘they’ want you to be. Perhaps the greatest nightmare would be to claim falsely to be a golfer and be offered a round by the interviewer.

DIY and Hill or Fell Walking are the most common claims.  Unless you have single-handedly rebuilt the west wing of your mansion you should consider omitting any reference to DIY.  As for walking, unless the claim can be spiced up with ‘The Himalayas’ or ‘The Andes’ I would give it a miss

PRACTICAL THOUGHTS ON CVS

The world is awash with CVs so rather than condemn the reader to pages of CVs one example is offered followed by some phrases/words that might prove useful when starting with a blank piece of paper.

This is how I like to see a CV presented for reasons that I am happy to justify in debate.  It is, of course, accepted that it can only be the basis for discussion since there is no such creation as the ‘perfect CV’:


                                               FOTHERINGTON-BALLSWORTHY (MIKE) MBCS
6 Lower Down, Wilton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP20 0AG
H: 0222 654 473 Mob: 07746 960 211 mike@mike.com
Married (2 children: s.12, d.15) Full & Clean Driving Licence

                                                                               PROFILE

Information Technology (IT) Consultant with a strong technical background and an excellent record of achievement developing and implementing diverse systems.  Experienced administration and personnel manager with a good record of strategic planning and managing change, in an international environment.  Articulate communicator with good interpersonal and written skills.

                                                                             CAREER
Ministry of Defence (MOD)                                                                                                1994-Present

IT Systems Development and Project Manager                                                                 2007-2012
Responsibilities:

•      Prepared business cases, feasibility and full studies. Cost/benefit analyses for a variety of MOD organisations in UK. Managed projects and acted as member of project boards. Pro-active involvement in business process re-engineering and managing change.

•      Controlled and managed a team of highly trained systems analysts and programmers

•      Created terms of reference for external consultancy companies employed for analysis and  programming work, and management various other suppliers, monitoring projects through quality management controls.

•      Provided technical advice and assistance to all Army units in UK and to line managers in the principal headquarters, on all matters relating to information technology, from use and operation of hardware and application packages to ensuring conformance with the IT strategy.

Achievements:

•      Designed, specified, procured (through CCTA) and implemented an innovative 132 terminal client server network providing secure office automation and decision support in a Windows and UNIX environment. Delivered improved efficiency and productivity gains of £200k per annum.

•      Designed and specified several systems in the last three years including 200 PC workstation UNIX networks, specialist graphics design office LANs and multi-media systems for use in presentation, creating staff savings and providing greater productivity and faster, more effective dissemination of information.

•      Produced comprehensive technical specification and investment appraisal for 500 terminal campus site structured cabling project. Proven financial savings show a return on investment in three years.

IT Systems Analyst and Project Leader-Belgium and UK                                             2004-2007
Responsibilities:

•      Planned use of IT systems and developed applications in operational environment.
•    Participated in a NATO IS study into command and control. Secretary and organiser of multi-national NATO user group.

Achievements:

•      Successfully completed postgraduate academic year studying information systems. Undertook IT study for the Royal Marines medical services which was eventually implemented as part of a wider strategy.
•      Organised and supervised arrangements for three annual NATO nuclear conferences involving 14 nations and 200 senior military and civilian representatives.
•    Developed module of suite of programmes for $20m nuclear command and control system running on Data general and Honeywell mainframe, vastly improving reliability and response times.

Staff Officer NATO                                                                                                                  2005-2007
Responsibilities:

•

Achievements:

EDUCATION & TRAINING

Bearfield College of Technology – MBCS Student, Passed (Distinction)                         1996                                 Nowhere Graham School, Passfield:                                                                             1985-1990
A Level: Mathematics A*; Physics A; German B; French C

                                                                     HOBBIES & INTERESTS

Golf – Handicap 12; Cricket – Village Team; Writing Articles for Sports Magazines; Active Member of Proshare Investment Club; Horticulture


CLUTCHING AT STRAWS FOR THE RIGHT WORD(S)/PHRASE(S)? THESE MAY HELP

Words and Phrases

Rest assured that someone will have faced the same situation as you so
here are some ideas that may help to inspire your thought processes.

Media

Formulated & implemented £2m+ sustained media campaign for retail chain
Managed media campaigns for major national and international accounts
Analysed marketing objectives, target groups & market research for AFK Plc, TSN
International and other major accounts
Constructed & delivered IT-based presentations to all management levels
Successfully negotiated advertising contracts with service providers

Public Relations

Controlled PR for three major product launches
Formulated and distributed corporate and product press releases for national, international and specialist press
Organised client press conferences for 100+ participants
Constructed pan-African PR campaign for US clients
Wrote product supporting articles in national & specialist press

Market Research

Conducted whole-range market research for 20 clients
Designed & operated appropriate IT database
Led & personally participated in national telesales campaign research
Successfully interpreted research results for medical product launch
Organised in-house market research training programme

Capabilities   

Market and sell
Direct and coordinate R&D on new concepts within framework of corporate products and philosophy
Plan and formulate all aspects of projects covering: findings and costs, equipment and manpower needs
Construct and submit feasibility studies in annual funding process
Develop and implement monitoring methods and procedures for seminars and technical reports
Negotiate international contracts
Optimise competitiveness through in-depth knowledge of product coordination, transportation, insurance and export documentation

Achievements

Increased market share of products by 22% in one year, sustaining average annual growth of 9%
Initiated and managed cost analyses relevant to specific products and countries in context of pricing, consumption rates, competition, market share, local production and transportation
Successfully gained relevant market intelligence through positive networking of agencies, including Government departments
Implemented highly sensitive contracts in face of fierce local and international competition in Africa and Japan                                                                                                                                                                          Intimately involved in the successful completion of a number of acquisitions at home and overseas
Restructuring of group companies, simplification of ownership chain, and cash relocation to save and improve after tax earnings
Successful introduction of electronic monthly reporting by all subsidiaries, resulting in significant time saving in both the consolidation of group results, and in reporting procedures by subsidiaries
Introduction of currency and interest hedging policies resulting in a more stable overseas income flow
Initiated and managed cost analyses relevant to specific products and countries in context of pricing, consumption rates, competition, market share, local production and transportation
Administrative:

Planned manpower schedules for evaluation and product development groups
Ensured the currency of project files and the distribution of information
Input capital requirements and other costs to budgetary process
Organised and implemented clinical trials, involving 4 programmes per year involving 450 members of the general public
 
Managerial:

Managed cosmetic product development for 8 international subsidiaries
Established successful team of 16 staff, maintaining high morale through efficiency measures, relevant training and imaginative staff career planning
Evaluated, selected and trained recruits to optimise their effectiveness quickly
Designed, established and operated an in-house IT product development package

Communication/Liaison:

Facilitator for a vital link between UK-base and overseas (mainly Europe) marketing and production departments, via regular meetings and accelerated procedures
Detailed liaison with overseas manufacturing units, travelling extensively to harmonise raw material technical standards and to advise on new product start-ups
Liaised with raw material suppliers to maintain currency and initiated joint ventures
Drafted and presented reports on work programmes to senior management (Board level)
Wrote and presented, at HR Exhibition (1995) a technical paper on Career Development
Constructed and distributed promotional literature for new product range

Technical:

Developed range of natural cosmetic products, successfully marketing them overseas
Working from first principles, identified error in product formula and initiated rectification action in time to pre-empt marketing crisis
Supervised and steered ongoing development of core products
Developed hair conditioner range for North European market which took 20% of market share within first year of launch

Financial/Treasury

Negotiation of borrowing facilities (lines of credit, Commercial Paper, Swaps) and liaison with many international banks
Electronic cash and forex management
All statutory and Stock Exchange reporting
All Board and Management reporting
Introduction of new PC based group consolidation system

Capabilities   

Market and sell
Direct and coordinate R&D on new concepts within framework of corporate products and philosophy
Plan and formulate all aspects of projects covering: findings and costs, equipment and manpower needs
Construct and submit feasibility studies in annual funding process
Develop and implement monitoring methods and procedures for seminars and technical reports
Negotiate international contracts
Optimise competitiveness through in-depth knowledge of product coordination, transportation, insurance and export documentation

Driver:

Driving many vehicle types from 10 to 38 ton, including Roll-on-Roll-off, chemical waste disposal tankers and skip trucks with trailer
Working to a timed programmed for MOD contracts
Delivering 35cu yd and 40cu yd skips to the building trade
Documentation and accounting procedures for all aspects
Contracted to UNPROFOR in former Yugoslavia resupplying dispersed military locations in Bosnia Herzegovina
Worked with multinational contingents in this war torn country; usually in convoys of 8 to 10 vehicles
Selected to lead convoys as a result of proven military skills in map reading and convoy discipline
Operating various tractor units and truck and trailer, hauling such goods as: food fuel, ammunition and explosives
Selected during one month of this contract to collect new Mercedes trucks with trailers from Germany and drive them back to the former Yugoslavia
Operating various tractor units hauling chemical cargo in bulk carriers, flat-bed and taughtliner trailers
Safe loading, carriage and delivery of hazardous cargo as a qualified HAZCHEM/HAZMAT driver

Supervisory:

Supervision of the stock yard, some 56,000 tons of building supplies
Issuing and receipt of goods destined primarily for major DIY outlets both home and overseas
Documentation, including maintenance of stock records and periodic stock check on computer-based system
Team supervisor of 5 staff/loaders
Supervising procedures in compliance with Health and Safety at Work legislation
Operation and routine maintenance of mechanical handling equipment including fork-lift & Clamp trucks (electrical and mechanical)

Words that Sabotage Your CV! By Alesia Benedict, www.CVGetInterviews.co.uk 

General:  Creating a winning CV is a feat of strategy involving focus, wording, design and content selection.  To achieve a career marketing document that wins interviews, all areas of the strategy must be spot-on and consciously used in the most effective manner.  One of the most common mistakes job candidates make when writing their CVs is not paying attention to strategy and word selection.

There are actually words that can have a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of the CV.  When most job candidates write them, they don’t consider word choice because they are primarily worried about getting down the basic information. Wording is critical and the wrong one can sabotage your CV.

The average agent and/or hiring manager sees hundreds of CVs from qualified candidates.   CVs begin to look and sound the same to them.  Here are some words and phrases to avoid:

Soft-skill descriptions:  Job seekers feel they need to communicate their soft-skills to the employer because they believe they are the traits that make them unique, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Soft-skills are so common that recruiters pay no attention to them.

Phrases to avoid or severely limit: – Excellent communication skills – Strong work ethic – Personable presenter – Detail-oriented

Do not bore the reader to tears with these trite, overused and tired phrases. After all, no one will write that he/she takes long lunches, is lazy and argues a lot with peers. Hence, it is much more effective to write a description that is action-based and demonstrates these abilities rather than just laying claim to them. For example, rather than just stating you are an “excellent presenter,” you could say “Developed and presented 50+ multi-media presentations to prospects resulting in 35 new accounts, totalling £300,000 in new revenues.”

Age, health, appearance:  Many seasoned job seekers are facing that scary time warp known as pre-retirement and fear age discrimination. They feel they can counter this perceived hurdle by giving a description of their age or health. But this can be death to a CV.

Phrases to avoid: – Youthful – Athletic – Fit – Healthy – Mature

Additionally, unless specifically requested, there is no need to include personal details such as date of birth, marital status or whether you have children. This information is typically used to exclude candidates from consideration in the hiring process rather than include them. Unless the employer specifically asks, keep this information confidential.

Passive voice:  Many people write in the passive voice because that is how we’ve been taught “formally” in school composition. The problem with the passive voice, however, is that it is just that passive! A CV needs to have punch and sparkle and communicate an active, aggressive candidate. Passive does not accomplish that.

Indicators of the passive voice: – Responsible for – Duties included – Served as – Actions encompassed
Rather than saying “Responsible for management of three direct reports” change it up to “Managed 3 direct reports.” It is a shorter, more direct mode of writing and adds impact to the way the CV reads. On the flip side, whilst action verbs are great, don’t overdo it.

I have actually seen:  – Smashed numbers through the roof’ – ‘Electrified sales team to produce…’ – ‘Pushed close rate by 10 per cent’

Take your time:  A CV is a marketing document for your career just as a brochure is a marketing document for a product or service. Companies put careful thought and consideration into each and every word that goes into marketing copy and you should do the same in your CV. These words stand in your place with the employer and need to showcase you in a powerful way. In a perfect world, these things would not matter, but in the reality of job search today, they matter a great deal.  Be wise – stop and give some thought to the words you choose.

Any example CVs contained herein are merely intended overcome the job seeker’s fear of facing a blank piece of paper.  Also of possible referral interest:

http://career-advice.monster.ie/cvs-applications/cv-advice/what-phrases-should-i-avoid-on-my-cv-ie/article.aspx

http://jobs.ezineseeker.com/resumes-top-phrases-to-avoid-using-1464232f2c.html

Ten Things to leave off your CV  –  by www.CareerBuilder.co.uk  
[Editor’s Note: This is, in the round, rather useful advice]  Everybody knows that in most situations, less is more.  Job seekers do themselves a disservice when they send out CVs with too much information. Employers don’t have the time or the patience to sift through irrelevant, extensive and false information. Just stick to the basics and you’re good to go.

Here are 10 things to leave off your CV and why:

1.  Your picture: Unless a job posting specifically asks for your picture (and very few jobs will), don’t include it just for fun because your looks are irrelevant to your potential as an employee.

2.  Interest and hobbies: Unless your interests and hobbies have something to do with the job you’re applying for, there’s no reason to include them. In general, make any applicable connections between your hobbies and the job in your cover letter. Better yet, save them for the interview when you’re asked what you like to do outside of work.

3.  Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors: Most employers assume that if you’re OK with sending out a CV littered with typos and mistakes, you’ll have the same lack of concern for the work you do as an employee at their company. While spell check picks up most errors, it can miss something major — did you work the late night shift? Or did you forget to include the “f” between “i” and “t”? — so have several eyes look over your CV before sending it out to employers.

4.  Personal attributes: Similar to sending a picture with your CV, your height, weight, age, race or religion are all unimportant to an employer [Editorial:  Would that this were true! But read on]. Though it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants because of any of these factors, some will do so, regardless. Keep everything on your CV pertinent to the job, and you’ll be fine.

5.  Minute details: Hiring managers don’t need to know the details of every task you’ve ever done in every job you’ve ever had. It’s just too much information, and usually half of that information isn’t relevant. Employers want to be able to see at first glance that you’re a great candidate, so pick out those details that are most relevant to the job for which you’re applying and omit the rest.

6.  False information: Plain and simple, no one wants to hire a liar. Don’t say that you have a master’s degree if you’ve only earned your bachelor’s; don’t say you’re presently employed at a company if you’ve recently been fired; don’t list your salary history as 20 percent higher than it was. Everything you tell an employer can be verified, so play it safe and be honest. [Editorial: Lies can be and are uncovered by “CV Verify” and others]

7.  Crazy colours and fonts: No one wants to look at a CV on fluorescent paper, covered in crazy fonts and symbols. Use a font that is clear to read in black colour. Anything else will make your CV hard to read and chances will be high that it won’t be read at all.

8.  Information that is too personal: Links to personal web sites, your photo-sharing site, or strange e-mail addresses can also be left off. Employers are less likely to respond to likes2party@email.com than just DMiller@email.com

9.  Negativity: Never put anything negative on your CV. Don’t include your reasons for leaving. If you left the position due to a layoff or you were fired, for example, bring it up only if asked. Never write anything bad about a previous employer. Don’t explain gaps on your CV by stating that you were in prison for 10 years. Keep your CV all positive, all the time.

10.  An objective that is too simple: Employers are trying to determine whether you’re a good fit for their organizations, so everything on your CV should point to your experience. Employers would rather see a summary of qualifications that displays your accomplishments and background than a generic objective statement like “To get a full time position at a financial institution”.

(Posted on LinkedIn in January 2013 – I do not necessarily agree with all the advice it offers but the reader must decide for him/her self)

APPLICATION FORMS

Application forms are dangerous because, unlike the CV, you are fighting the battle on someone else’s terms. Their dangerous potential is compounded by the fact that many are designed by psychologists and are riddled with ‘pooh-traps’. So, however innocuous an application form may seem – Be Careful.

A campaigner should consider the following sequence/actions:

Before you take any other action, including reading it, photocopy the form. Otherwise Sod’s Law, dictates that you will spill coffee on the original

Read the instructions; re-read the instructions and show the whole form to your partner and/or a friend, who is preferably a lateral thinker and may be able to isolate the pooh-traps

Complete a draft copy in pencil, but in all other respects following the instructions

Show the completed draft to the partner and/or friend

When satisfied, complete a fair copy (normally in black ink or typed)

Photocopy the fair copy and place it with your job log (remember it will form the basis of the subsequent interview)

As discussed, most forms offer the option of the candidate completing them in typed or handwritten format.  Where such an option exists either is, of course, acceptable.  You might be influenced, however, by the quality of your handwriting; if its good then impress the target with your skills, conversely you may be worried about your hand and opt for the typewriter/IT.

While, in general, graphology plays a minor role in the UK recruitment scene do be aware that some professions demand a demonstration of handwriting (for example the Police).  So in some cases you may not be able to exercise the typewriter option.

COVERING LETTERS – The Orphans of a Job Search Campaign

“It is an almost universal view among recruiters that covering letters should be one side in length and contain a powerful, tailored and succinct argument why you are right for the job. General purpose letters are worse than useless.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Times 7 May 1995

The covering letter, be it over a CV or an Application Form, is part of the package, matching the others in quality, attention to detail and copied to your Job Log. Remember, some targets select candidates for interview based solely on the covering letter.

Building on the quotation above, some thoughts are offered:

Avoid using the first person at the beginning of letters and paragraphs. It smacks of arrogance. The most effective attention grabbing opener for a letter is: “You” or “Your”.

Where you have a nepotic card to play declare it in the first paragraph. The card will have been wasted if the letter ends: “By the way we served together in the Falklands”

“On first review I expect 50% of the information I need to be in the covering letter” says a NBS Recruitment Consultant.  Another indicator, as if one were needed, of the important role of the covering letter.  In recognition of this importance and to meet the argument requirement in the earlier quotation, campaigners might consider a two column approach of listing the identified key requirements of the job on the left, matching them on the right with the appropriate qualifications/experience

Leave no questions unanswered

Too often we underestimate the role and importance of the letter in a job search campaign.  But, is there enough meat in such a proposition to justify an article on the subject of letters?  Who knows so let’s wait and see what happens.  Before so doing it should be stated that ‘letters’ in the context of this article include those sent via the Internet, for which the same standards of quality and etiquette should apply.  It is accepted however that, while it may not find favour with some, this aged Author tends to veer on the side of over-insurance in matters of etiquette.

“Only a fool mocks etiquette” – Talleyrand

On the issue of etiquette, in order to furnish my thinking, two commonplace examples are offered.  First, I would rather attend a party wearing a collar and tie with the option of ‘downsizing’ than risk arriving in jeans to discover that everyone else is more smartly attired.  Of course understanding the language of invitations is very much part of the process and why the nation was, by and large, irritated by Gordon Brown’s insulting behaviour of sporting a creased working suit for a white tie event at the Mansion House.  Second, is the matter of appellation.  In truth, regardless of age, it is likely that most of us are extremely annoyed when addressed with your first name by a total stranger.  This is particularly irritating in the evening when a salesperson phones to inform you of an unbeatable value offer (made worse since the call invariably occurs at the start of a TV programme you have organised your whole day around seeing).

There are, of course, minor irritants such as being late.  Some people not only make a habit of being late but seem to find it rather amusing.  To me it is simply plain rude and Oscar Wilde summed it up: “Punctuality is the thief of time”.  Why should the well mannered waste their time waiting for the ill-mannered?  It is sad, but generally true, that “The world moves at the speed of the unreasonable man” (GB Shaw) but I am confident that in this whole area of manners, Service folk are a cut above their civilian counterparts.  You would not dream of being late of parade or wearing the wrong uniform on it (of course the risk of consequential punishment is a factor in both cases)

Before this contribution disintegrates into a pompous tirade on manners and etiquette, let us now move on to identify their relevance to the subject in hand – letters.

The Covering Letter – Imagery

Over some twenty years this author has seen the initial impact of hundreds of CV ‘packages’ destroyed by a poor quality covering letter.  A favoured option used to be an attached ripped off page from a Reporter’s Notebook with the handwritten words “CV attached”.  Aside from the instant potential diminution of the impact of a possibly high quality CV, such an approach always raised the thought that a so called ‘professional’ had been involved in the production of the CV.  Even worse it is the written equivalent of those who think networking=”Give us a job”.

As the saying goes “You do not get a second chance to make a first impression” so why blow your chances on thoughtless low quality presentation?  The reader of an application package wants to handle a submission that feels good and is visually appealing.  So, here are some tips:

•    Use high quality paper – Conqueror 100 gm minimum
•    Do not fold the Covering Letter and CV – the documents should lie flat on the recipient’s table
•    Avoid exotic colours for the paper that are often used in a vain attempt to catch the ‘speaker’s eye’
•    The Covering Letter and the CV should mirror each other is style, Font and paper choice
It is perhaps worth pausing here to address the question of prejudice.  In the context of gaining a job the Job Seeker’s preferences mean nothing but those of the employer or recruiter are crucial to progressing, or otherwise, an application. Many job seekers would be dismayed to know the importance of prejudice in the discarding/selection process; paper colour and Font choice are but two examples.  That being so, a job seeker who really wants a particular job (that 10 out of 10 rarity) would be well advised to identify the recipient’s prejudices and policies.  If such action involves the use of the telephone the job seeker may unearth other useful information such as whether the company insists on a Psychometric Assessment as part of the selection process.

The Covering Letter – Content

Again I am not sure much has changed since this comment was made:

“Candidates sometimes do themselves no favours particularly by omitting vital information.  It can range from requested salary information being left out to there not being a telephone number.” 
Recruiter Times 7 May 1995
The overall lesson of this observation is that an applicant must answer all the questions:

In procedural terms there is considerable merit in drafting the letter before the writing/re-writing the CV so that the latter can be moulded to support the former.  Such a sequence might help to meet this challenge set by the already mentioned challenge of: “On first review I expect 50% of the information I need to be in the covering letter.”

In combination a Covering Letter, a CV/Application Form and responses at an interview must all “answer the questions”.  This is a demanding task that requires a detailed examination of an advertisement or job specification to identify both the questions and the key words.  The key words should be used as widely as is subtly realistic but it is also important to match experiences/skills to the essential/desirable qualities listed in the advertisement/job specification.  On the vexed issue of salary if you are asked the question then it needs to be answered; indeed, in the wider more general context of salary negotiation, it might be observed that to set an expectation implies a good understanding of the market.

A Covering Letter ought not to be used to compensate for omissions of the CV which, in itself, is yet another justification for the tailored CV.  Tangential to that observation is the temptation to replicate the entire CV within the Covering Letter and, in order to achieve the one page only remit, reducing the Font size to 4.  This is an understandable pooh trap since, having worked so hard on its production, most people are supremely proud of their CV.  Of course, sometimes that pride is wildly misplaced but that is not the point – not replicating the CV is the point.

Returning to this author’s pomposity declared above, some recipients will be less than pleased with inappropriate appellations especially those that border on the over familiar.  Although I might prefer to be addressed as Michael Hazeldene Esq it must be recognised that the world has moved on and that Mr Michael Hazeldene is acceptable; incidentally the use of Mike could be an irritant.

So, drawing on the earlier party analogy it is better to be formal and told subsequently to relax the formality, than to steam in with all over familiar guns blazing.  In summary:

DOs

•    Dear Mr Smith………………………………………Yours sincerely
•    Dear Sir………………………………………………..Yours faithfully
•    Open with an attention grabbing first sentence, playing any common denominator card within it.

An example might be:  “Your name was given to me by Mike Hazeldene who served with you in the Gunners.”  The use of ‘You’ or ‘Your’ offers a powerful opener

DON’Ts

•    Mix the DOs!
•    Use the limp commonplace opener that amounts to a statement of the obvious: “I am writing this letter…”
•    Do not squander any common denominator/nepotic card by burying at the end of a letter
•    End: Yours truly……With Kind Regards….Yours affectionately
It used to be suggested that some companies would set an appellation trap by which some advertisers will try to ‘catch you out’ by use of First Name; e.g., the advertisement may say “reply to David Windwilly” if so, it is safer to address him as “Mr Windwilly” rather than “David” which might be regarded as too familiar

Speculative Letters – “Spray & Pray”

It cannot be gainsaid that we all feel both warm and fulfilled after posting a fistful of speculative letters to total strangers (albeit perhaps targeted companies).  Such feelings might evaporate when it is known that the return on a Mail Shot is in the order of 1-1.5%.  Speculative letters are little more than a Mail Shot and HR Departments have cupboards full of unsolicited CVs (50 a day per consultant is a not uncommon rate and he/she allocates 15-20 seconds on each).  By all means bear the cost, time and effort required of a Mail Shot but do not hold your breath while waiting for a reply.  And that last point should remind all of us that job applications should be fired off in parallel not in tandem; too many job seekers lose valuable time coming second in interviews and starting all over again – but this is a digression.

If a job seeker opts for Spray & Pray then it should be:

•    Be researched – consider such factors as expansion, restructuring, and relocation
•    High quality
•    Addressed to MD or CEO by name which in turn must be correct in all aspects (e.g Honours and Awards as appropriate)
•    Must include: Current salary/pay; Salary expectation; When available
This may be another minority report but good luck is extended to any job seeker who prospers from even one of the above observations.

Supporting Statements.  You may hear tell of these but in my experience they are a rare animal.  It seems that the most likely scenario would be to attach a Supporting Statement to an Application Form (generally the public sector – see Veredus Brief that is available on request).  Its purpose is to demonstrate relevance and enthusiasm while avoiding repetition of either the CV or the Covering Letter.

Here is a live example circa April 2012 and in the words of its author: “They do need to be meticulously organised, well written and focused on setting the applicant apart from the wider group: the content must be clear, the ideas must flow well and the applicant’s personality must shine through”

                                                                              SUPPORTING STATEMENT

The Values – Sustaining academic excellence in a pleasant and tolerant atmosphere, and attracting the most talented and committed students, irrespective of origin or background.
I connect instinctively with the history and purpose of Corpus Christi.  Classically educated at Winchester College, and holding a first degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Christ Church College, Oxford as well as a recent Masters in International Relations from Kings College London, I have a deep understanding of, and sympathy with, the ethos and values of the academic community.  I crave the university environment, am innovative, forward-thinking and internationalist in my outlook and have demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to life long learning.

The Strategic Challenges – Competing successfully in the market place, increasing endowment and revenue return, reducing the bureaucratic burden.  Achieving the right balance between competing stakeholder interests, academic outputs, administrative processes and financial inputs will be key to the success of Corpus Christi over the next 20 years.  A proven strategic thinker and planner, I bring an innate understanding of the link between these ends, ways and means, and of how the associated risks must be managed carefully so as to deliver maximum value in line with the founding purpose of the College.  During 30 years in the Ministry of Defence I have developed a sound understanding of, and been formally trained in, the disciplines of investment management, financial planning and control, budget preparation and management and reporting in accordance with functional and statutory requirements.

The Role – Financial stewardship and the management of the endowment, estates, human resources and all administrative activities.  Over the course of a successful military career I have managed and led an extraordinary number and range of large, complex organisations at senior level including 3 regional brigades, a divisional training group and an African army.  Recent assignments have entailed the management of the entire military estate across Germany and wider Europe, coupled with multi £m financial accountability.  I have vast experience of handling policy, corporate governance, financial control, human resources, operational delivery and decision-making in large organisations.  I understand how the public and charitable sectors work and know how important it is to derive maximum efficiency from precious resources and foster good relations with multi-disciplinary stakeholders.

The Bursar – The qualities and experience that underpin the specific personnel requirements of Corpus Christi.  Vision and innovation, underpinned by deep management experience, financial responsibility and a natural ability to apply strategic thinking to operational outputs have been central to my work as a Commander in the British Army for the last 10 years.  I have the flexibility of approach and negotiating skills required to manage change in response to the many challenges currently facing the higher education sector.  Perhaps most importantly, I believe I offer the gravitas, communication skills, moral integrity and personal commitment to motivate the team, make a difference on the ground and add real value to the enduring success of Corpus Christi.

In sum, I have the imagination, versatility, self-confidence, commitment, passion and professional capability to think strategically, manage effectively, build lasting relationships and make a real difference to Corpus Christi.  I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet the challenges of the post and would expect to play a full part in college life.

OTHER DOCUMENTS

Record Of Achievement. You may hear of a document entitled a Record Of Achievement. It is a detailed blow-by-blow account of a working career which may be of particular value to a Headhunter in presenting a candidate, to a particularly technical or complex appointment and/or to a Portfolio (see below).

The Portfolio. A Portfolio can be offered by a candidate once he/she has been notified of interview, either prior to that interview or on arrival. Within reason you can put what you like in a Portfolio but some ideas are offered:

•    A copy of the CV
•    A Record of Achievement
•    Qualification documents (some companies insist on the originals)
•    Evidence of any particular achievements (for example, published article(s))
•    A photograph
•    Any pictorial document which puts some flesh on the bones of your past  (for example, a Serviceman/woman might consider including a recruiting brochure)
•    References

Practical Tip

It will be seen that a diligent campaigner is producing much paperwork and it will become increasingly difficult to know what was addressed to whom.  You might consider creating two portable briefs (in nirex folders for example): one to be placed by the telephone at home, the other to be carried with you at all times.  The contents might be:

•    Standard CV or CVs (one reverse chronology, the other functional)

•    Copy of the package sent for the job you would ‘die for’; including the advertisement if appropriate

•    Record of Achievement, if produced, or some equivalent life history

•    Referees’ contact details