10 CV guidelines – and one rule to rule them all!

CV resume blank sheetIn over 10 years of reading CVs every day for Firehead, I’ve seen every kind of presentation known to the application process – and then some. With new technologies and formats coming out all the time, the breadth of possibilities to present your information to a hirer has exploded too: video CVs, interactive CVs, even Twitter Moments CVs… to name just a few.

In response to this, there have been many efforts by different organisations to provide a CV template or to otherwise standardise the information candidates might include on a CV, for example, check out the European Union guidelines and templates for the Europass CV, designed to make your skills and qualifications more clearly and easily understood in Europe.

This recruiter’s one rule

At Firehead, we want to know you just the way you are – or at least how you choose to present yourself – so that we can represent you in an honest, knowledgeable fashion. This starts by taking your CV as you see fit to present it, and working from there. The information you choose to include (or not include), how you format it, how you work with the content and publication of it, says a lot about you.

We will never edit your CV content or formatting choices. We firmly believe that, especially in this field of digital expression, your CV says very important stuff about you, just as you choose to present it. If you don’t know how to write a good resume of your experience and skills, you might not be looking in the right field to work with us.

However, we do have one simple rule…

You must send us your CV as a Word document. This is because, as your representative to our clients and for data privacy, we need to replace your contact details with ours. No other information on your CV is touched or changed.

10 CV basics

There are, of course, a few guidelines that might help us know more about you to get started. These are not rules, but guidelines to make our recruitment work easier.

  1. No photo (it is not legal to include a picture everywhere).
  2. No date of birth (not required by law and can be used to discriminate).
  3. Do include a phone number, email address and where you are (or are based) – we need to find you!
  4. If applying internationally, include right up at the top of the application which nationalities you hold, and any other working papers and visas. If you can’t work legally in the country you are applying to, we can’t work with you.
  5. Do create a summary at the top of your experience, and, if appropriate, your tools or skills.
  6. All of the jobs and statements you list in the rest of the CV should support the claims in the summary. Always substantiate important information with examples.
  7. My preferred format for CVs is reverse chronological order, ie, with most recent work experience/education/training first, and ordered as follows:
    • First line: job title
    • Second line: name of company, and city (plus country, as appropriate)
    • Third line: dates worked
    • Fourth line: relevant information on tasks and achievements – in bullet points for ease of reading.
  8. Standard length is no more than two pages for salaried, up-to-mid-level candidates. Feel free to go to one page, if possible. The exceptions are freelancers, who may have many pages (I’ve seen 16!) of experience that legitimately needs to be explained. High-level candidates, who are near the end of their careers, may also require more than two pages to cover everything. But make sure it’s pertinent, without arrogance or too much detail.
  9. We don’t accept video CVs at this time. Clients are not asking for them because they don’t want to have to change tools and technologies just to look at one candidate in a pile, especially when they have hundreds to assess. Who knows if this will evolve? I think it will… but for now, you’re putting yourself out of consideration by trying to stand out in this way, and that seems a pity.
  10. Online CVs – many people have a profile on LinkedIn or another type of CV hosted online, and these are great for getting your information out there generally. At Firehead, however, we generally don’t go scouting for things posted on the internet for our clients; we have many thousands of CVs in our database and add value to the recruitment process by representing real people, with real talents, who we have got to really know. Going back to our one simple rule: we still need you to send us a Word CV in order for us to represent you.

Join our talent bank

If you’d like to know more about joining Firehead as a potential job candidate, please visit our Candidates section. What happens after your submit your CV? Find out here!

We look forward to working with suitably qualified candidates in our specialist recruitment areas of:

  • Content management
  • Content strategy and marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Technical communications
  • Web design and development
  • Usability
  • Plain language
  • Metadata, taxonomy, ontology and augmented reality
  • NEW: AI and machine learning

Please do get in touch if you have any questions.

Image: (CC0 Creative Commons) Tumisu/Pixabay

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