Making the Most of Your CV Floor-Space

By David Smith

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Yes, I am a fan of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces! If you live in London, or New York [insert overcrowded city of choice], then you probably appreciate any tips on maximising the space in your home, there are enough channels on YouTube devoted to ‘small space living’.

Why am I going on about this? Well, quite honestly, I thought it was a fitting analogy for the amount of space available within a CV.

You may be thinking ‘This guy’s lost it, I can just add another couple of pages to the CV to add the essential detail!’ Unless you are in the Medical, Legal or Teaching profession, then I would advise against this.

Generally, a recruiter would like to see no more than two pages float gently into his or her inbox, rather than the ominous thudding of a CV that is worthy of Tolstoy [sorry about the cliché].

Of course, there are some exceptions, for example, if you are very senior, then you could be excused for adding another page, providing your design and format looks more like a well ordered open-plan apartment than a cluttered two-up-two-down, you will be fine.

Clearing Out the Clutter

Before you do anything, you have to have a clear out. It is hard to achieve a stunning minimalist look if you can’t breathe because of the amount of junk you have lying around. Such as?

The minimalist experts do recommend getting rid of anything you haven’t used for a while. In CV terms, this could refer to skills that just don’t mean anything anymore, or experience that is going back quite a few years. That doesn’t mean say you can’t transfer the skills from that role, just avoid skills that are obsolete, such as expertise of old software for example, you may have to be brutal.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I decided to go through some old photos and weed out the rubbish, we kept the quality stuff, but all the blurred images and rubbish landscapes had to go – I am sure that you get the idea?

Here are five other ‘junk cupboards’ you can clear out

Superfluous detail: There are a number of items that belong on this list, but for now - Date of Birth, Marital Status, Health, Nationality [in some cases this is required], Number of Children. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but needless to say, it is just occupying valuable space, and in some cases could be revealing details about you that you don’t want in the public domain.

If you aren’t sure whether to include a data point, just drop me a message and I will gladly help out.

Repetition: It is a fine line between emphasising information and repeating yourself needlessly.

Using relevant keywords more than once is great, but you may wish to use different versions of the derivative, for example: Lead, Leader, Leading, Leadership!

Avoid just plain old repeating yourself! Don’t make your cover letter look like you have just copied and pasted directly from your CV either.

References: Telling the reader that your references are available upon request is not necessary; neither is listing your reference contact information. Keep that information for when you have a job offer on the table.

That’s a Given:  Telling a recruiter you are a good timekeeper or trustworthy, reliable, hard-working…etc etc etc…is pointless. These are just basic things that are assumed. I used to see these stock terms on Jobcentre vacancies and would think ‘If I ask you whether you are trustworthy or not, how will I believe what you tell me?’ A good timekeeper? Yes, you had better show up for work on time every day, that isn’t a selling point!!!

Additional Fluff: Including a paragraph about how awesome your current company may beg the question as to why you want to leave if it is so awesome.

Whether you include a section on ‘Outside Work’ is a judgement call, just make sure it is relevant, or that your interests say something about you other than you enjoy watching films or going out with your friends.

Arranging the Furniture

Before you think too much about actual content, it might be good to consider what your strong areas of experience or expertise are, how much space you want to devote to each ‘room’.

For example, as a graduate with an awesome result, details of your degree and results would definitely take precedent over the part time role that supported you through your studies. I am not saying the part time job isn’t important, but you have to think about the prominence you give to each element of your CV.

Make it easy to walk through your CV, easy to read and extract the information required with no huge blocks of text to…well, frankly…avoid reading!

Make sure you showcase the exceptional aspects of your experience, feature it as you would a work of art on the wall!

Maintenance

OK, it is time to ‘fess up! I have lived in my current home for almost ten years, and [not for the first time] just recently, I have cleared out almost 20 bags of clothes, books, DVDs, kitchen utensils, board games, you name it!

As I mentioned, this isn’t the first time in ten years I have had a serious clear out. My mission now is not to accumulate any more junk!!! [We’ll see how it goes; I still have to attack my shed]!

Similar with your career, you pick up new skills and experience over a number of years, attend a number of training events, conferences and the like and you have to periodically decide what to keep and what to ……streamline!

If you’d like some advice on how your CV is looking, you can get in touch on any of the following.

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