Evolving your CV as you evolve

Evolving your CV as you evolve

Last month, I received an email from someone I had worked with five years ago, back in 2010. The individual requested a CV update service, and I was happy to oblige. At the first contact, I suspected that using the word ‘update’ was simplifying the situation, and I was right.

The individual – let’s call him Colin Candidate – had changed beyond all recognition within the five-year timespan, and there was no way a few tweaks to the original CV I had written would suffice. We needed to go back to the drawing board.

In 2010, Colin Candidate was a fresh graduate, with a little experience under his belt. He had ordered a graduate CV service to achieve that all-important first rung on the ladder. I’m happy to report that it helped him to secure that first step, and from there on in his career progression with his blue chip employer was meteoric.

In the proceeding five years, Colin has received four promotions, completed a number of meaty projects, and played a key role in skyrocketing this start-up to become a major industry player. Colin had changed so much that he was unrecognisable from his 2010 CV.

With all this compelling new information to include on his CV, we needed to scrap the 2010 version and start afresh by working to understand each role, its challenges, and actions, leading to tangible results.

Aside from changes in CV style and presentation to reflect the evolution of CVs between 2010 and 2015, the content was literally all new.

Colin was no longer positioned as a graduate, but as an experienced hire.

His target was no longer an entry-level role, but a senior position.

His address and contact details had changed, reflecting his upward mobility.

His headline had changed.

His profile had changed.

His key skills had changed.

His experience had changed, and the roles we sold him on, back in 2010, were minimised or totally dropped from his career history.

His degree made the transition from the 2010 to 2015 version of his CV, to a slimmed down education section on page two, rather than prominently displayed on page one.

That was all. Looking at the two CVs, 2010 and 2015, side by side, you wouldn’t recognise Colin Candidate. ‘Man, Colin,’ you’d say, ‘you have changed.’

When everything about you has changed, why would your CV remain the same? Rip it up, go back to the drawing board, and write a CV that reflects your here and now.

It’s worth it.

Colin is worth it.

You are worth it.

In fact, writing your CV when you’ve changed completely can be easier than writing your CV when the changes aren’t as obvious. Still, I’d recommend that you analyse your CV on a regular basis, and drop the content that no longer reflects your needs. If it served the old you, but no longer serves the new you, just drop it and add new content that works harder for your goals.

Kick-start CV content creation with these nine untapped information sources

Kick-start CV content creation with these nine untapped information sources

When writing your CV, sometimes the hardest thing can be knowing where to start. You can stare at a blank Word document for what seems like eternity, devoid of ideas that will turn the shiny white backdrop into a stunning presentation of your credentials and capabilities.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, help is at hand. In this week’s blog, I will share nine helpful and potentially overlooked sources of information that can kick-start content creation, setting you on track to achieve a full and compelling CV in no time at all.

#1 Your original job advert

If you have been a diligent and well organised job seeker, you may have saved the original job advert for your current role, the notice that originally caught your attention, inspiring you to apply for your job. This advert should outline the key aspects of your current role, or at least represent the role as it was perceived at that point in time. If your own job advert has gone AWOL, then perhaps a similar role has been advertised since. Dig it out, it may provide some inspiration.

#2 Your job description and person specification

Along the same lines, you may be able to lay your hands on the original job description and person specification that formed part of your original application materials. If your job has evolved over time, you may even have been issued with a revised version. Again, take a look. These documents will give you a framework to use and build your CV content around.

#3 Your annual appraisal

Your appraisal should contact specific and quantified data on your contribution, performance, and achievements. Uncover valuable nuggets, then rework them as required before transferring to your CV.

#4 Case studies and project descriptions

These client and public facing write-ups may be featured on your company website, or in offline marketing materials, and can inspire some golden CV content. If your company is proud of it, and you have had a hand in it, then there’s just cause for featuring it on your CV.

#5 Your company bio

Perhaps you have a company bio, produced for the company website, annual report, marketing brochure, or similar. Revisit these to find out how your company has presented you, there may be some forgotten facts or a new angle you hadn’t thought of.

#6 Your company’s annual report

If your organisation produces an annual report, this should capture the cut and thrust of priorities and activities for the past year. Reading through will remind you of the bigger picture, and your contribution to it as a cog in a bigger wheel. Can you reflect this on your CV?

#7 Your performance targets

If your current performance is graded against defined targets, then these targets can be useful on your CV. Whether your targets are personal, relate to your team, department, or company as a whole, your attainment of them makes interesting reading.

#8 Your predecessor’s profile

I’m not for a second suggesting that you plagiarise someone else’s CV content, but you can spark some ideas by visiting the LinkedIn profile of your predecessor. Which aspects of your role have they featured? What results do they proudly showcase? How have you taken their work forward? What have you done differently?

#9 Industry associations

Industry associations can be an untapped source of information, providing a useful starting point when writing your CV. Many outline the main tasks and responsibilities connected to your line of work, providing a useful checklist against which to benchmark your role.


These untapped information sources are intended to spark ideas that you can lovingly nurture and shape into engaging CV content, peppered with tangible achievements and real results.

Don’t be tempted to transfer dull descriptions of tasks and responsibilities verbatim onto your CV. Instead, work with them, detail your personal contribution, and polish them to create an inspiring representation of your skills and achievements.

Nine things that take less than nine seconds

Nine things that take less than nine seconds

Last week, our friends at Find Share Connect shared some sound and actionable CV advice on Facebook as part of their #CVSpringClean. Alan and Dan rounded up the day by reminding followers that 8.8 seconds is the time it takes for a person to look at your CV. This fact was derived from research conducted by the UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, and based on the time recruiters now take to review entry level CV applications.

8.8 seconds. Not long, when you really think about it. To put the fleeting timeframe in context, I started playing around with the timer on my Samsung Galaxy, working out what was and was not possible in just under nine seconds. Then, when my family got bored with this craziness, I consulted Google.

I offer you my findings. Nine things that take less than nine seconds.

Background of the old stairs

#1 It turns out that I can run up 25 stone steps. I put some welly into it but, in my defence, it was after a day of intense walking. It won’t surprise you to learn that the fitter members of my family could manage more.


groom geting his wedding shoes on

#2 I can tie one shoelace. Again, not very impressive. I was all fingers and thumbs!


Party Food

#3 I can eat three cheese balls. You know, cheese balls, those maize-based spherical crisps that appear at Christmas each year. My efforts were heckled and, by comparison, turned out to be pretty pathetic. Let’s just say I won’t be invited to a competitive eating event anytime soon!



#4 I can put an umbrella up and down. If you are superstitious and fretting, don’t worry, it was outside!


Woman pay by credit


#5 I can insert my debit card and enter my pin number. I’m not sure the assistant at Pret A Manger knew what on earth was going on!


Number five sent my family over the edge, so I resorted to Google to identify four more activities that take less than nine seconds.


Athletes Starting with Motion Blur

#6 Usain Bolt can run at least 85 metres, on the basis that he achieved the 100 metres gold medal for his 9.63 second time at the London 2012 Olympics.


Airborne on a Bull

#7 A rodeo cowboy can complete a qualified ride, the length of which is just eight seconds. (Source: http://rodeo.about.com/od/faqs/f/why8seconds.htm)


Car dashboard

#8 The 0-60mph time of a Ford Escort XR3i MK4 (1986) is 8.8 seconds. Who knew? (Source: http://www.autosnout.com/0-60-Times/0-60mph-in-less-than-9-seconds.php)


Goalpost on grass under blue sky

#9 In August 2014, Karim Bellarabi earned his place in the record books by scoring the fastest ever Bundesliga goal. Within just nine seconds, the Bayer Leverkusen player found the back of the net and set his team for a win against Borussia Dortmund.


Some of these feats are truly amazing, given the nine second timeframe. Others less so (ahem). Impressive or not, the time they were completed in, nine seconds or less, is not long at all. That’s all the time your CV will have to win over the reader. In that fleeting time, the person reading your CV will have made a decision, one way or another, about your credentials and employability.

It can seem unfair, given the amount of time that it takes to craft your CV, and even worse when you consider the time it takes to acquire the skills and experience which form the building blocks of your CV.

Unfair or not, 8.8 seconds is the reality of today’s recruitment landscape. Accept the time limit and adapt accordingly, or accept that your CV will be tossed aside.

The Easter Bunny’s guide to CV eggxcellence

The Easter Bunny’s guide to CV eggxcellence

This week, I was lucky enough to touch base with the Easter Bunny as he bounced by on what is undoubtedly his busiest week of the year. I took the hopportunity to ask the long-eared, cotton-tailed chocolatier about his top CV tips. It’s always insightful to hear from someone at the pinnacle of their career, and the chief eggxecutive of Easter didn’t disappoint. In this eggxclusive interview, I am proud to report the Easter Bunny’s top tips for an eggxtraordinary CV.

#1 Eggxercise restraint when outlining your career history

“You may well have been delivering Easter eggs since the year dot, but no one wants to hear what you were doing five centuries ago. Hop straight to what’s relevant, and outline how you are using your skills and insight, built up over centuries, to make a difference today.”

#2 Be eggxact about your achievements

“I always tell the younger generation of leporids to give specific eggxamples of how they can and do deliver. If you are involved in confectionary manufacture and distribution, for example, I’d advise you to get specific about the volume you are dealing with, and the impact of your work. Quantify wherever possible, using numbers, percentages, and monetary value.

My CV eggxplains that I lead my team to produce and deliver a whopping 80 million chocolate eggs each year across the globe, much better than just saying I deliver eggs, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

#3 Eggxlude irrelevant information

“Even at my career stage, there are parts of my job that are plain boring. They really don’t deserve a place on my CV. When writing your CV, eggxtrapolate the results and achievements that sing, and ditch those that don’t.”

#4 Eggxhibit specific projects

“Projects are a great way to convey your impact and influence through specific scenarios, whilst showcasing transferable skills. On my CV, I talk about how I lobbied UK food magazines (print and online) to position lamb as the meat of choice for Easter Sunday, NOT rabbit.

Another project I am proud to put my name to is my company’s successful legal action against a lingerie retailer for inappropriate use of rabbit branding.”

#5 Show eggxpertise in your field

“If you are an eggxpert in your field, show it. If you are a statesman with learning to share, then position yourself as such. A good way to do this is by indicating how you lead and mentor junior reports. My CV outlines how I have coached and developed junior talent, including the likes of Bugs Bunny, Roger and Jessica Rabbit, Alice’s White Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.”

#6 Eggxpress yourself in the right way

“I have to say, I get sick to my two front teeth of being portrayed as a cute and fluffy bunny. So, it’s important to me that my CV shows the real me, as I want to be seen. I’d recommend thinking carefully about the language on your CV, as the words you choose will inform the reader’s impression of you. Power verbs (e.g. eggxcelled, eggxceeded, eggxecuted) are a great way to communicate your offering with impact.”

#7 Eggxplain career gaps concisely

“When eggxplaining career gaps on your CV, less is definitely more. You don’t need to give an eggxtended eggxplanation, truthful brevity is key. Over my centuries of career history, there have been a few breaks, but I wouldn’t want a potential employer to know I spent my time carrot crunching and breeding, whilst bemoaning my lack of employment. It’s enough to say that between mon. YEAR and mon. YEAR I enjoyed a rewarding career break, pursuing personal interests.”

#8 Give the recruiter something eggxtra

“Don’t be boring. Make your CV shine by eggxplaining your interesting eggxtracurricular activities. For me, I’d mention my performance in annual egg rolling competitions and love of hip hop and Chas ‘n’ Dave – that ‘Rabbit’, what a tune!

On the other hand, I understand that not everyone can be as fascinating as me. If you are actually boring, don’t draw attention to it by listing reading and cinema as your hobbies, even if your top book is Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Peter Rabbit and your fave film is Watership Down.”


So, there you have it, the Easter Bunny’s eight top tips for an eggxtraordinary CV. His final challenge to you?

“Don’t wait. Get cracking and write an eggxcellent CV that really hits the recruiter’s sweet spot. If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out my own CV, as written by Giraffe CVs.”

Is your email address talking you out of an interview?

Is your email address talking you out of an interview?

You’ve written a fantastic CV and covering letter (or even had them professionally written for you), your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and fully optimised to reflect your current job search, your approach is focused and targeted, and yet you’re still not getting invited to interview.

Sound familiar? Believe it or not, your email address could be talking you out of a job.

Why? These reasons could be the big three:

#1 Your email address is inappropriate

As a professional CV writer, I see A LOT of email addresses every week and many stand out for the wrong reasons.

A surprising number of people use a personal email address that they’ve had for years on their job application, but these addresses are often highly inappropriate for job hunting. Email addresses beginning with names such as ‘pussycat69@….’, ‘lagerboy@….’, ‘ladykiller75@….’ or ‘iamawesomehireme@….’ all invite people to make judgements about your appearance, behaviour, or attitudes before they’ve even read your CV.

Even an email address that uses your favourite fictional character – ‘anastasiasteele@….’, ‘buffygirl@….’ or ‘walterwhite@….’ – makes a statement about your interests and personality.  This invites a reaction from your target employer – they may relate to the statement, or even dislike it.

Also, using a personal email address that includes your birth year gives away a personal detail that you may not have wanted to disclose until your interview.

In my experience, it’s better to leave personal email addresses off your application form and opt for something that includes your first and last names or a form of them at least, e.g. firstname.lastname@…..‘ or ‘initiallastname@….’

#2 Your email address is outdated

Having read a lot of articles including this one on this topic and spoken to a number of employers, it would appear that certain domains are considered to be behind the times. This particularly relates to Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL.

Although some employers won’t think this way, there are others who will automatically reject people with a Hotmail, Yahoo!, or AOL email address, taking it as a sign that the candidate is resistant to change and possibly not tech savvy enough to create a newer, more relevant email address.

This perhaps seems unfair because Hotmail is still considered one of the best free email providers, but if you have a beloved Hotmail address, consider a little online research to inform your decision on whether to keep it.

#3 You’re using your current work email address

I would always avoid sending a job application from your current work email address. To many employers this is a red flag that you are job hunting while you’re on the clock and being paid to work. If this is how you behave in your current job, how will you behave if the new company recruits you?

Even if you are job hunting on your boss’s time (and I wouldn’t recommend it), log in to your Gmail account and send your application from there.

Which email addresses create the right impression?

To ensure that your email address doesn’t get your CV blackballed, we’d always recommend setting up and using a free Gmail address or a personal domain email address.

Gmail is a good option because employers tend to see people with Gmail addresses as current and tech savvy. It’s certainly the best free email service available at the moment and you need a Gmail address to use many of Google’s other services.

There are some that would argue though that Gmail may not always be the coolest and most popular email service around (after all, look at how we’re talking about Hotmail in this article!), in which case a popular and effective alternative is to secure a personal domain email address, such as firstname@lastname.com or hello@firstnamelastname.com.

Again, employers are more likely to view people with personal domain emails as technically aware and committed to keeping their skills up-to-date.

A word of caution – employers will sometimes investigate whether the personal domain is associated with a website, running a quick search for www.yourdomain.com to see what it brings up. It’s worth making sure that if people search for your domain, they at least find a holding page or are redirected to your LinkedIn profile, even if you don’t have a website. This can actually be a positive step that helps you build your personal brand, reinforces your credentials, and shows your attention to detail.

Your email address is a brand message

Whether it’s fair or not (and many people would argue that it’s not), your email address is an unintended brand message about you that can cause people to make a snap judgement about whether your job application should be rejected outright or you should be invited to interview.

By all means keep your personal email address but our advice would be to create a separate, professional address for job hunting. It just means you can be confident that you’ve ticked another box towards securing your next position.

So, ‘fess up! Do you have a dodgy email address that you use when job hunting? Would you consider changing it or do you think it helps you stand out from the crowd? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.



Dos and don’ts of dates on your CV

Dos and don’ts of dates on your CV

Behind the marketing message of your CV, there is always an element of a timeline, requiring you to remember and present a series of dates.  Dates can make or break a CV, and further or diminish your suitability as judged by a recruiter.  Here are some handy dos and don’ts of presenting dates on your CV.

Your date of birth

Don’t include your age or date of birth on your CV.  It is not necessary, and including it could indicate to recruiters that you are out of touch with current requirements.

Don’t include an email address which clearly incorporates your year of birth – see above.

Dates within your profile

If you have an extensive history within a particular type of role or industry, do indicate the number of years you have worked in this field.  A great place to include this information on your CV is in your profile, at the top of page one.  Examples include ‘seven years’ experience at C-Level’ or ‘over 20 years’ learning and development experience’.

Dates within your career history

Don’t feel obliged to list your entire career history, outlining what you have done for the past 10 to 15 years is perfectly acceptable.  It is better to show experience as relevant for a particular opportunity, than to outline all roles held since year dot of your career.

Do list your experience in reverse chronological order within each section, so that your current or most recent role is presented first.  You can still split your experience into Relevant Experience and Other Experience, with relevant experience appearing first on your CV, but make sure that each section uses the reverse chronological format.

Do make sure that the dates in your career history stack up, ideally showing a seamless transition from one role or experience to another.

Recognising that not every jobseeker has a continuous career history, do explain any gaps in your career history in a clear and concise way.  Using years rather than months and years is a good way to deflect attention from short gaps in employment, though if you have a gap-free career history, I’d personally opt for the month and year approach.

Do list dates consistently throughout your career history.  If you indicate January 2003 – March 2005 as the dates you undertook one particular role, follow this format (full month name and year) throughout your career history.  I tend to abbreviate dates within the career history to give the first three letters of the month name and the year, for example Jan. 2003 – Mar. 2005.

Don’t be tempted to fudge the dates.  It might present a temporary solution, but truly it is not worth fudging your employment dates.

Do list your current role as <<insert date>> – Present.  Writing Oct. 2003 – Jan. 2015 would suggest that you have completed this period of employment.

If you are not currently employed, and have only recently finished your last employed role, do indicate the month and year your employment finished.  For example, listing Oct. 2003 – Dec. 2014 would clearly show that you have only recently finished your last employed role, whereas 2003 – 2014 leaves the reader unsure as to whether your role finished in January 2014 or December 2014, and if you have been unemployed since, this could make quite a difference to how you are perceived.

Do give the date (month and year, or just year) of a promotion to show career progression.

Don’t be afraid to group short-term contracts and projects of a similar nature under one date period.  You may wish to indicate the duration of short-term contracts or projects undertaken, for example, ‘Delivered a six-month project to relocate the fish finger production facility, driving monthly production savings of £200k’.

Dates of education and professional training

Do list your education and professional training in reverse chronological order.  You may wish to consider breaking the information up into two separate sections, depending on how many qualifications and courses you are listing.

Don’t always detail secondary school education.  If you are a graduate with several years’ experience under your belt, or you have further tertiary education to list on your CV, there is no real need to list your A Level or GCSE qualifications, as these will have been prerequisite to your university education.  Similarly, I often see non-graduate C-level executives wondering about whether to list A Levels or O Levels.  In fact, this could then draw unnecessary attention to a missing degree, when the experience gained since school or university is far more relevant and compelling.

Do include the date of your degree if you are a recent graduate.  If you gained your degree ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, then you can opt to list your degree without the date you acquired it.

Don’t include and list dates for every professional training course you have ever completed.  Instead, think about what the reader will want and expect to see, and remove anything that represents white noise.  As a general rule of thumb, do make sure you are consistent, so if you list the date you completed one course, follow suit for others.

Do show that your certifications are current.  Some certifications expire after a number of years, so make it clear that yours are current by indicating the date of attainment and re-certification.