How Biscuits Can Improve Your CV

How Biscuits Can Improve Your CV

Biscuits can help all sorts of situations, from tough negotiations through to revision sessions. They bring a comfort factor to the trickiest of scenarios, geeing people up and helping them through. Writing your CV is no exception. A biscuit or two (in moderation) can boost your mojo and help you along your way.

However, the biscuit I am considering now has a unique superpower that can improve your CV. Really. It’s the all-butter mini animal biscuit. These bite-size morsels are yummy, but they can also inspire some great CV content. It’s a win-win! You can be forgiven for thinking I’ve lost my marbles at this stage, but I can explain.

When my children were small, I’d often pop a bag of animal biscuits into my bag; they were perfect for a day trip – tasty and great to share. What’s more, they provided entertainment on long car journeys or during a picnic lunch. Our game was for two snackers to draw an animal biscuit from the bag, and assess which animal would win in a fight. A bit brutal, I guess, but the kids loved it.

The animals were drawn, and the fight called. Owl versus duck. Elephant versus camel.  Monkey versus elephant. And so on. Whatever mammal or bird you pulled, your task was to assess its traits and work out how it could overcome its competitor. The powers of strength, agility, flight, intelligence, and size would be named and applied to win the virtual battle. It passed the time! Fast forward a few years, and the children have grown. The game is a fond family memory, but the premise can still be applied.

When writing your CV, use animal biscuits to improve your career stories, feeding powerful bullets that show your skills and results. Imagine yourself as a contender in the animal biscuit contest. What animal are you? What are your traits and strengths? Who or what is/was your opponent? How did you apply your natural abilities and acquired experience to overcome your competitor or challenge? Was it your ability to change that won you the promotion? Did your empathic approach help you to retain a sceptical client? Did your analytical skills allow you to negotiate a better deal?

Whatever you come up against in your career, your skills and strengths help you to triumph. To quote Oprah Winfrey, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”

Be sure to tell the story on your CV, show the struggle, show your strength, and help the reader to visualise the battle’s turning point and point of victory.


Want to Ace Your CV?

Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career









How to Proofread Your CV

How to Proofread Your CV

When you’ve finally finished writing your CV, the desire to ship it out and be done with it can be overwhelming. I get it – you’ve spent so long looking at your screen that you can’t contemplate looking at it anymore. With glazed eyes and a tired mind, you can think of 1,001 things you’d rather be doing.

The temptation to hit the send button is one that you have to overcome. With competition for jobs so high, it’s imperative to submit an error-free CV, ensuring you are not ruled out for careless mistakes.

This makes the job of proofreading your CV a crucial one. A cursory glance-over or Microsoft spelling and grammar check just aren’t enough. A methodical and rigorous review is needed, making sure you pick up any spelling, punctuation, grammar, or formatting mistakes before your CV leaves your desk. But, how exactly should you proofread your CV?

The following tips will help you to proofread your CV, enabling you to systemically spot and address any errors before it’s too late.

Leave it Overnight


Tempting as it is to complete the task in one sitting, editing your CV immediately after you’ve written it is not the best idea. Instead, leave it overnight, or a few days if you can, before coming back to review and improve it.


Move Away from Your Desk


Looking at your screen, at your desk, where you have already sat for hours on end, isn’t conducive to the proofreading process. Instead, print your CV and take it to somewhere new. I find that I do my best proofreading in the car, away from all-consuming email and social media. The fresh location and lack of distraction help me to focus.


Read it Aloud


When you read in your head, it’s easy to skim over mistakes. Your brain sees what it wants to see, rather than what’s actually on the page.  Instead, read your CV aloud. It may seem strange at first, but it is the best way to spot any clumsy phrasing, grammatical errors, or duplicated words.

Reading your words aloud is also a good way to check you are confident in owning them. Imagine that your interviewer is quoting from your CV. In this scenario, your words should be entirely familiar and shouldn’t make you uncomfortable in any way.


Section by Section, Line by Line


Reading the whole two pages in one sitting will probably end in you skimming the text, which won’t help you to spot the finer errors. Instead, break the job into bite-size chunks. Even if it seems like it will prolong the proofreading process, it will be worth the effort.

Read each section (contact details, Headline, Profile, Key Skills, Experience, Education, AdditionalInformation, etc.) on a standalone basis, in different sittings if it helps. This way you can bring laser focus to each. It is also worth reading through the section headings and your job title headings on their own, to check they are consistent and error-free. Other single-helping jobs including checking for homophones and common spelling errors*, consistent use of tenses, repeated words, verb repetition, and accuracy of any numbers.

Taking it one stage further, using a ruler as a guide as you move down the CV will help you to focus on each line as you read it, preventing your eyes and attention from racing ahead.

* These can be missed by a spellcheck. Examples include: their/there/they’re, to/too, its/it’s, manager/manger, public/public, compliant/complaint, moral/morale, college/collage, health/heath, patient/patent.


Read it Backwards


The human attention span is short, so even if you start reading at the top of your CV with the best of intentions, you’re likely to start skimming as you move down the page. Try to make a mental note of when you began skimming, then ensure you include the most important messages above this point. Once you have read your CV top-down, read it again from the bottom-up, ensuring page two gets the same care and attention as page one.


Change Font


Looking at the same font for hours and hours can get boring. Instead, try converting your CV into a different font before proofing it. A change of style will freshen it up, encouraging a more focused and critical edit.


Use Grammarly


Online editing tools like Grammarly identify and correct a broad range of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes, helping you to achieve a polished and error-free CV. Grammarly checks for over 250 grammar rules, so it’s pretty comprehensive.


Ask a Friend


It’s not a bad idea to have a friend (or two) look at your CV before you send it. An impartial review can help you to gain perspective and can improve your final edit.

Aside from using their fresh eyes to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, you can ask them to sanity check the message your CV conveys. Here are some sample questions to ask:

  • Is your career target clear? What do they perceive that goal to be?
  • Are they convinced of your suitability of that target by reading the first half of page one?
  • Does your CV clearly show how you can help your target employer?
  • Does your Profile describe you, as they know you?
  • Do your bullets explain your particular contribution and achievements?
  • Is the format consistent and visually appealing?
  • Are the font choice and size legible?
  • Is it easy to read, both in terms of skim reading and a deeper read?
  • At what point did they start skim-reading the CV?

If you are happy for the friend to edit your CV, send them a Microsoft Word file with the ‘track changes’ function enabled, so that you can easily see what they change. Otherwise, send a pdf and invite comments by email or telephone.

Having followed these tips, you can be confident that you’ve done a thorough job of proofreading your CV. Correct any mistakes and complete your final edit, then get ready to celebrate a job well done!


Want to Ace Your CV?


Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

Ace Your CV Elevate Your Career Lis McGuire Giraffe CVs










Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

Keep Your CV Real by Keeping Your Language Real 

When you are writing your CV, there are plenty of tried-and-tested language guidelines to follow, ensuring you produce a career document that meets expectations and delivers results. These range from minimising adverbs and avoiding clichés to starting bullets with power verbs and front-loading bullets with results. These tactics can definitely improve your CV, but beware. Don’t focus so much on CV language ‘rules’ that you stifle your individuality and make your CV narrow and contained. It needs to represent you as a one-off, an original, and most importantly, a person.

Your CV is about you. You are a person, not a robot. That’s lucky, because the hiring manager wants to hire a person, not a robot. Try not to come across as robotic. Keep it real. Don’t be afraid to let at least some of your authentic self shine through. I’m not suggesting you go crazy, injecting personality via puns, jokes, emoticons, or text speak. On the other hand, you should be comfortable that your CV represents you. It certainly shouldn’t suppress the real you.

It’s like using your telephone voice for business calls. It’s natural to want to present yourself in the most professional way, but it’s hard to sustain in real life, and if all goes to plan, your job application will get real. If your CV sparks interest, then those reviewing it will begin looking for clues about your personality and fit online. They’ll check you out on LinkedIn and hop on over to Facebook and other social networks to look under the bonnet. Then they’ll pick up the phone, and fingers crossed, go on to invite you to an interview. At one or all of these stages, they’ll discover the real you, and the words you use in conversation to describe your career.

Ideally, when this happens, there shouldn’t be a disconnect between your phrasing on your CV and your spoken word. It’s accepted that some people are more articulate in their written word than spoken word and vice-versa, but aim to avoid channelling Russell Brand in one and Jeremy Paxman in the other. Both should represent you as you are.

So, how can you achieve the fine balance between a professionally-written presentation and a poker-straight, impenetrable, and personality-free CV? Try chatting about your work to a friend, family member, or other trusted confidant, and record the conversation. You may cringe at this suggestion, so if listening to a recording of your own voice is beyond comprehension, ask someone to take notes. When you are talking to a person, face-to-face and with natural responses, you are more likely to describe yourself in a clear way that connects with the other person. This can turn up some real gems that you can transfer verbatim to your CV, showing robotic language the door.

Sometimes, if their location allows, I’m lucky enough to sit side-by-side with a client, listening to them share their career stories and describe their professional persona. They don’t use jargon or uptight phrasing; they describe what they offer, as a person, to me in language that is relatable and clear. I tend to note down what they are telling me and there, in amongst the dialogue, are often golden nuggets, phrases that make my heart sing, words that I instantly know should appear on their CV. Their career in their own words, what could be better?

Some people are so concerned about getting their CV right that they end up packing their document with language that doesn’t actually represent them. Don’t let this be you. Remember, your career prospects rest on you as an individual. Without you and your personality, your career wouldn’t exist. In every career story you tell, you were the magic ingredient that made the difference.

It’s your career, so don’t be afraid to tell it in your own words.

Want to ace your CV?

Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career, on Kindle. Click on the book to view and order:

Ace Your CV Elevate Your Career Lis McGuire Giraffe CVs













How to customise your LinkedIn address

How to customise your LinkedIn address

Your public LinkedIn URL is the address you can share to direct others to your LinkedIn profile. It can be found underneath your profile picture in Edit Profile mode.

Unless you customise the URL, LinkedIn will present a default address with your name followed by random letters, numbers, and forward slashes. These default addresses are not easy to read, share, or remember, so it’s worth customising the address. It’s a very quick job, it doesn’t take long at all.

In Edit Profile mode, click on the cog beside your public URL. From here, you’ll be taken through to your Public Profile view, where you can quickly and easily edit your LinkedIn URL.



Aim for your vanity URL to reflect your first name and surname, as listed on LinkedIn. If your name in this format is already taken, you could add a middle initial, reverse your surname and first name, or add an area of expertise e.g. lismcguirecv. If you are self-employed, you could use your company name.


You have between five and 30 characters to play with, but you can’t include spaces, symbols, or special characters.

Once you have customised your LinkedIn address, you can hyperlink to it from your email signature, share it on your business cards, and even link to it from your company bio, blog, and other social media.


Check out this quick video that talks you through setting up your vanity URL on LinkedIn:

Your Email Signature Can Bring a Truckload of Professionalism to Your Job Search

Your Email Signature Can Bring a Truckload of Professionalism to Your Job Search

If you are planning a job search anytime soon, your personal email account is likely to get a whole lot busier. You’ll be sending a tonne of emails to recruiters, gatekeepers, and those within your existing network to secure your next position.

If you haven’t already set up an email signature that supports your job search and career goals, that represents a lot of missed opportunities to promote yourself. Using an email signature in your job search is like handing your personal business card to everyone you engage with.

Creating your email signature is easy and takes just a matter of minutes, yet this simple action can have a huge impact on your career. Every time you send an email, your signature will be there on the bottom, working hard for you, without you even thinking about it. It won’t just attract the notice of your direct recipient – your mails may be forwarded on to others, where it will introduce you in your own words.

You can use your email signature to:

>> Signpost your intended career direction via a clear headline or job title.

>> Introduce yourself and build rapport by including a professional photo.

>> Direct readers to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or career-relevant social accounts.

>> Show you are detail-orientated and care about your professional representation.

If you Google ‘email signature tool’ you’ll find a range of free and paid-for signature generation tools. I tested htmlsig and WiseStamp, both of which offer free and paid services, and was pleased with both versions. Each site offered step-by-step guidance on how to embed the signature, and both provide a help centre in case you need support.

Here is the email signature I generated using htmlsig’s free service:









Here is my email signature created using WiseStamp’s free service:






It’s quick and easy to implement, it can be free, and it brings a truckload of professionalism to your job search. Grab your personal email signature today.