Once your CV is finally ready, in all of its beautiful glory, there is one more immediate action you can take to optimise its success.  I’m talking about the way you name and save your CV file.

The filename is a prime piece of CV real estate that is often overlooked by jobseekers.  It’s one of the first things a recruiter will see, so it’s worth giving it due attention and respect.  Read on to discover how.

An unoriginal or ambiguous filename won’t do your CV justice

First and foremost, avoid naming your CV ‘CV.doc’.  This scarily original tactic will be used by countless other jobseekers, and once the file is outside the confines of your PC, there will be no immediate way to differentiate it from the files of the other applicants who have followed suit.

Other examples of ambiguous filenames include just initials and filenames which use complex naming conventions only recognised and understood by the creator.  Sure, the recruiter may end up renaming your CV, but imagine how arduous (and therefore unlikely) that task could become once magnified to take into account all applications.

Examples of what NOT to do:


Using your name as your CV filename

The CV filename is actually a great way that candidates can position themselves in recruiters’ and employers’ minds.

Using your name within your CV filename will help the reader(s) to identify your document at a glance.  Recruiters will know whose CV they are looking at straight away and every time they come across the file henceforth.  Your CV will also be easier to locate at a later stage.

Best practice examples:


Your filename as a personal branding opportunity

Even if your CV filename isn’t a variation of CV.doc, chances are that you are not using this piece of CV real estate to its full potential.

Without going overboard, or coming across as an egomaniac, you can go one step further and use your CV filename to position yourself in the reader’s mind.   Consider adding a keyword or two to describe your role or USP.  Check out our recent blog on using keywords in your CV to ensure you select the right words for your specific target.

Best practice examples:


Examples we are not so sure about:


Adding the date or year to your CV filename

People often add the year or date to their CV filename because they have a ton of CV versions on their PC, and it enables them to quickly identify the version they need.   Adding the date or year won’t earn you any brownie points, as a recruiter will expect your CV to be bang up to date anyway.  Worse still would be sending a file named along the lines of CV2009.doc – a clear indication that you haven’t updated your CV this year, or even this decade.

Examples of what NOT to do:


Indicating version numbers on your CV filename

Using version numbers whilst preparing your CV is good practice.  However, once you are ready to send your CV to a recruiter, I’d advise renaming your file in line with the guidelines above.  Avoid using terms like ‘revised’, ‘final’, or ‘updated’.  They don’t add any value once the CV has left your computer.

Examples of what NOT to do:


Using your CV filename to show your commitment to your target company

You could add your target company name to your filename to send a message about your commitment to this role.  If you do this, remember to change it for future applications!

Best practice examples:

John-Smith-CV-Marketing- GiraffeCVs.doc

Filename best practice

Try to keep it brief.  Many computer systems only show the first 24 characters including spaces.

Use your name first in the filename, this is the most important information you need the recruiter to see.

Capitalise letters to separate words or use spaces, dashes (-), or underscores (_) to achieve the same effect.

Don’t use forward or back slashes (/ or \) or full stops (.)

A note about file compatibility

Before sending your CV, check if the job advert or employer careers site specifies the file format you should use.  If not, .doc and .pdf are good choices.

By saving your CV as a Microsoft Office Word 97-2003 and pdf file, you can help to ensure that the reader can open it, and see it as you do, regardless of what version of Word they have.

If you create, save, and send your CV in the latest version of Microsoft Word (.docx), and your target audience is using a previous version, it could throw out your lovely formatting and make your carefully presented CV look a complete mess.

PDFs show your document exactly as you created them.  However, sending your CV as a .pdf alone may not get it through the applicant tracking system.  If in doubt, send your CV as a .doc and a .pdf.

What to do when you are sending more than one document

If you’re sending more than one document, for example, a cover letter or a publications list, make sure the files follow the same naming conventions.  Also, make sure you save and send all files in the same format.  Use the same version of Word to create each file, and if you create a pdf for one, do the same for all.  This consistent approach demonstrates attention to detail.







Infographic: Do you need to update your CV?

Infographic: Do you need to update your CV?

Whether you are actively job seeking or not, your CV remains a vital piece of your career toolkit.

For jobseekers, the right CV can act as a key to open interview doors.

For passive candidates, a compelling CV can attract the notice of the right person at just the right time, opening up an unexpected golden opportunity.

For those who are happily employed, a great CV can act as security, a personal reminder of the value you bring and your overall employability.

Whatever stage you are at, we advocate updating your CV.  It’s like sharpening the saw before you put it away.  You can’t be sure of when you’ll next need it, but if you don’t take the time now, you’ll almost certainly wish that you had.

We are proud to share our latest infographic, a light-hearted decision tree to help you to work out if you need to update your CV. 

Decision Tree Infographic

Please feel free to use this infographic on your own website or blog using the embed code below.

Hammer House of Horrible LinkedIn Profile Pictures

Hammer House of Horrible LinkedIn Profile Pictures

With Halloween fast approaching, I got to thinking about things that scare me in relation to the job search. Although there are, in fact, quite a few areas that inspire an Edvard Munch style scream, I quickly settled on LinkedIn profile pictures.  Choosing an image of yourself to represent your professional offering on LinkedIn is an important choice, but the resulting pictures can often be the stuff of nightmares!

With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to outline 10 scarily bad LinkedIn profile images, and getting in the spirit of the exercise, I decided to demonstrate them. Last week, Caroline and I got together and howled with laughter as I tried out the various poses and she captured the images, hands shaking with mirth rather than fear.

It’s important to get your LinkedIn profile image right, so why not check out these wrong’uns below to assure yourself that your current image doesn’t have any of these frightful features? If it does, there’s time to change it, and that time is now!

So, without further ado, I present my ‘Hammer House of Horrible LinkedIn Profile Pictures’, recreated for you here by yours truly, so you know what not to do.


#1 The one where the image is poor quality

Grainy, blurry, and pixelated images won’t cut the mustard on LinkedIn. Your image needs to be clear, sharp, and high quality so that your network and new connections can tell that this really is you.

My son saw this and pointed out that I look like a character from Minecraft, which had us both in stitches.




#2 The one with bad lighting

Bad lighting is a no-no, it can obscure the clarity of the image, and create a dull and dingy, rather than positive, impression.



#3 The one that’s a selfie

The selfie has truly got into the population’s psyche in 2014, even inspiring the love-it-or-hate-it track ‘but first, let me take a selfie’. Infectious or narcissistic, the selfie doesn’t belong on LinkedIn.  Arms extended in full view, mirror pout on display, eyes struggling to focus on the lens, and weird camera angles don’t create the most professional impression.

If you really can’t find someone to take a photo for you, and feel the need to resort to a selfie, then make sure it’s not so obvious.



#4 The one with an inappropriate background

If the background to your LinkedIn profile image is weird or wonderful, it may get more attention than the actual subject, you.

Choose your background carefully to make sure you don’t reveal more than you want to or, indeed, expose personal situations that are best kept off LinkedIn.



#5 The one that’s just inappropriate

Images of you captured in a social, rather than professional, context can stick out like a sore thumb on LinkedIn.

If you’re hot stuff or a party girl, that’s fine, but save those pictures for Facebook (if you really must share them), and remember to turn your privacy settings on!  Similarly, images that are too personal can look odd.

Just keep the context in mind, a professional network, and you shouldn’t go far wrong.



#6 The one that makes you look like a moody so-and-so

If you look like a right old grump in your LinkedIn profile, it’s not going to tempt someone to connect with you, or call you for an interview.

Moody might be your resting face, but make an effort, show some teeth, message your brain to add sparkle to your eyes, and look engaged.



#7 The one where we can’t see your face

These images are hard to decipher, the face is somehow obscured by other things – hands, clothing, other people, and so on and so forth.

The point of uploading a LinkedIn profile photo is to help others to recognise you.  If they can’t see your face, you’ve missed the point.



#8 The one where you look like a pinhead

These LinkedIn images have far too much space above and around them, the subject is really far away, and you find yourself squinting to see who is pictured.

Don’t be a pinhead, make it easy for your network and new contacts to recognise your face.

pinhead 2



#9 The arty-farty one where you look like a poser

Some people’s LinkedIn photos ooze attitude and self-appreciation.

This kind of image comes in many confident forms, but inevitably leaves the viewer thinking “Well, they clearly think a lot of themselves!”



#10 The one that’s a faceless man

The most frightening LinkedIn profile image of all is the faceless man, so scary that those who see him can’t even describe his features. He’s the guy you see when you don’t upload a profile picture.

Don’t unleash him on your network, they’ve seen him before and they aren’t keen to repeat the experience!



Getting it right can be tricky.  Although I have given the gruesome snaps above a miss, I still feel that my LinkedIn profile image isn’t quite up to scratch, so I’ve booked myself an appointment with a professional photographer to achieve a better result.  I’ll be documenting my experience and learnings in a follow up blog, with key tips on how to achieve the perfect LinkedIn profile image.