Your CV FAQs answered
Having an excellent CV is an essential part of most job searches.
As part of our on-going mission to provide great resources to our members, we ran a webinar letting you in on some of our top tips for writing a top CV. You can check out the content on How to Create a Winning CV. Out of the webinar came a number of questions, and we have compiled a list of the most common CV FAQs here:
Is it professional to have a picture on your CV?
We’d recommend no photo on your CV but include a link to your LinkedIn Profile which should have a happy, professional photo on your profile. Of course, this is a matter of choice.
Should profile photos include kids such as a fun family photo? (To try and highlight your character as someone who values family.)
It’s best to use a professional, friendly photo on your LinkedIn profile. Family photos may appeal to some but not everyone.
If I had a relevant job 10 years ago but have done loads of irrelevant jobs since, do I put relevance above chronological order?
Generally, it’s better to keep things chronological. However, you can put relevant first if you make it clear to the reader. To keep things chronological, draw attention to your previous experience in your personal profile. Then try to draw out any relevant skills from your previous roles you’ve been doing but keep it brief. Then, expand the role you had 10 years ago to highlight all the relevant skills related to the job you’re applying for.
Should I put on date of birth or age?
You do not need to put your date of birth and most recruiters will remove this if you do to avoid this being an influencing factor.
Can the two pages of my CV be back-to-back or is it better to have 2 pages?
We’d recommend two separate pages. Most CVs are handled digitally so this makes sense.
Should it be max 2 pages?
Two pages is the ideal but don’t get too hung up on this. If a recruiter is keen on the first page, they’ll read on.
Can you signpost to any guidance on cover letters?
You’ll find some useful tips on cover letters here
Do you have an example of a personal profile?
Yes, here’s an example of a personal profile and an exercise to help you write your own profile.
What if you want to start a new career? In the personal profile what would you say? i.e. – if you can’t say you are a project manager but you have the relevant skills
If you’re looking for a change of direction, introduce this in your personal profile explaining why you feel your skills are transferable to the role you’re applying for. For example, Alison is an experienced professional with over 10 years of transferable experience relevant to project management.
Should the personal profile be written in 3rd person?
You can write your profile in the first or third person – whatever you’re most comfortable with.
I used to always put Advanced MS Office as a key skill. But in 2023, I think that is not a key skill anymore. Is it still worth mentioning?
Yes, it’s best to mention all software by name that you have experience of. You may feel that everyone has MS Office skills but if you omit it, the suggestion to the reader is that perhaps you don’t.
How do you ask a recruiter not to contact your current employer? Is it necessary to add on your CV?
It isn’t usual practice to contact a previous employer until an offer if made and references are being taken. At this point in the process you should have a relationship with the recruiter and can explain you don’t want your current employer contacted until after you resign. If you’re very nervous, you could add this to your cover letter or call to let them know it is sensitive.
On recent employment if you work reduced hours, should that be noted or not?
It isn’t essential to show on your CV that you’re currently or have previously worked part-time or if the position was/is voluntary. The CV is to show your work history and skills. You don’t see CV’s stating ‘full time, permanent’.
How do you explain career breaks?
It’s always best to say where you have taken career breaks to inform the reader and keep a chronological consistency. If you have gained relevant experience for the role you’re applying for during your career break, you can mention this. If not, just simply state ‘career break’ and the dates.
E.g.: Jun 2021 – Jun 2022 – Career Break to raise family (with no other commentary)
Or: Jun 2021 – Dec 2021 – Career Break to raise family
During this time I also used my project management and communication skills to complete a two-storey house extension. OR
During this time I also used my finance skills as Treasurer of the school PTA.
If I am a stay at home parent, is “career break to raise my family” sufficient to cover this? I’ve seen others recommend pulling skills out from being a parent.
Yes, this is sufficient. You can pull out parenting skills which are very valuable skills but unless they are directly relevant to the role you’re applying for, it’s better to use the space to ‘sell’ your professional skills.
If you’ve had a long career break of 16 years, can you include and expand on main roles you did more than 10 years ago?
Yes. If you’ve had a lengthy career break, your CV should focus on the skills you gained whilst working that were most valuable. It’s also great if you can do something in the workplace to get something current on your CV. Perhaps volunteering or offering you services to a local business or friend for free.
Career break in your profile. I have this in mine, very short, and mention raising my family along with voluntary work. It’s completely irrelevant to the work I do but I’ve left it there, is that still acceptable?
Yes, short and sweet is fine to explain what you were doing during this time. It doesn’t have to be in your profile, can be one line within your work history.
If you have taken a career break after 15+ years (e.g. HR) and take a P/T role in a total different field (e.g. Retail) to make ends meet in current climate but wish to return to (e.g. HR) how would you address this 360 degree career change?
This is very common, particularly for parents who change career to have more flexibility around caring responsibilities. Introduce this fact in your personal statement, i.e., most recently working in retail, I am keen to return to my passion for HR from my early career. When listing jobs, keep your retail jobs brief and expand fully on your early career roles, reflecting the skills the job description is seeking.
I’m assuming if you’re staying in field and your companies are known in field you don’t need to add a company description?
Yes, to an extent. However, if you’re applying via a third-party, it never hurts to give company information if you have the space.
What do you class as a short space of employment?
In a permanent position, anything 12 months or under would be considered a short period of time. Some recruiters would say even 18 months is relatively short.
Would you include promotions in separate boxes or would you roll up?
Aim to keep your CV in chronological order and if promoted at the same company state the change of title and mention it was through a promotion. This shows you are/were valued in that role enough to be promoted.
How would you lay out multiple roles in one company?
If you’ve been at one company with multiple roles list titles, dates and achievements as though they were all separate jobs. They can all fall under the one company heading and description.
Should I add I have been made redundant from most current role?
If you were in your role for a reasonable period, there is no need to mention redundancy. However, you’d be surprised how common redundancy is now on people’s CV’s. It has lost the stigma it used to have a few decades ago and with the financial crisis in 2008, recession, Brexit and then the pandemic, it is very common for CVs to have one or more redundancies. When discussing it, don’t be embarrassed and stick to the facts. Perhaps it was because the company was downsizing due to economic factors or perhaps relocating or restructuring. Whatever the reason, stick to the positives of what you learnt having gone through the process.
The reason for leaving question: I have a few jobs I stayed only a year or a little more and this is for personal reasons. Do I need to list it in “reasons for leaving” and how to word it?
It’s not vital to list the reasons but if invited for interview, you are likely to be asked. If you’d rather not put reasons on your CV, think in advance what you might say in person.
How can I use these tips to write a CV as a Year 10 student for work experience?
The format for a CV is the same whatever stage of your career you’re at. If you have very little or no work experience, instead of using previous jobs you can create a CV around previous projects or experiences you have had. For example, you might have helped organise a school fete, helped younger students learn to play netball/football, taken part in sporting tournaments or achieved your DofE award. All these things can be included with bullets points of the skills you’ve used or learnt in the process.
Should previous employer address/contact details be included in your career history?
No, this isn’t necessary.
If you have been a union rep (which comes with a number of skills and responsibilities) is this something you would recommend or leave off a CV?
If the skills gained are relevant for the job you’re applying for, then yes, include them.
Should dates be included for education and career history?
Include dates for career history as this gives the reader a sense of the depth of your experience. There’s no need to add dates for education if you’d rather not.
If you did your GCSEs 20 years ago, could you just summarise as ’11 GCSEs’.
Yes, that’s fine.
What happens if you have been in the same job for 10 years? Just include one on the CV?
Yes, one job is fine and should be easy to find lots of achievements to write about when creating your bullet points.
I have worked in internal comms and can’t provide many examples of my work as they were all internal, what can I do when asked for them?
Most hiring managers would understand that internal material is usually confidential. You could offer to prepare something against a brief if they are keen to see your style.
I’ve had a personality profile done and I’m a blue type personality. I’m quite proud of this as it reflects my personality type. Shall I include this in my CV?
It isn’t usual to see this type of thing on a CV. Psychometric profiling comes in a number of forms so don’t assume your reader will understand what being a blue type personality is. There isn’t room to explain on a CV so best to leave it off. If you are shortlisted for an interview the company may have their own personality testing for you to complete.
How much embellishing can be included? Job titles mean something internally to the company but don’t always represent what you actually did. When someone from another company reads it, it might not sound like you’re senior enough for the role they want.
This can be true if you’ve worked in a large corporate and/or are changing industry. It is ok to change a company specific title to something that is more generic so long as the description of what you did remains true.
Do many of these suggestions also apply to creating your LinkedIn profile i.e. limited to 10 years or so?
Yes, in a way, mainly due to relevance. However on LinkedIn, you’re not restricted on space so if you want to list all your jobs from your early career there’s no problem with that.
How do you tailor your profile to an industry that that you don’t have experience in? And that’s the industry you want to get into?
If you’re looking to change industry, introduce this in your personal profile explaining why you feel your skills are transferable to the role and industry you’re applying for and if you can, show your passion for the new industry (but you don’t want to make it too lengthy).
As a recent uni graduate, my work history isn’t that long. Is it okay to have a short CV?
Yes, it’s fine to have a shorter CV if you’ve not been in the workplace before. However, try to think of as many experiences you have had that could be translated into workplace skills. I.e., babysitting shows responsibility and trustworthiness; being part of a sports club shows commitment and teamwork etc.
Minimum font size?
We’d recommend a font of 10 point is minimum apart from page numbers, company descriptors or reason for leaving which can be slightly smaller.
What if a long career break is due to illness?
Many people have different reasons for long breaks in their career; some candidates choose to expand on this on their CV, others prefer to discuss this at interview, but it is always best to say where you have taken career breaks to inform the reader and keep a chronological consistency.
If my last job was for 12 years would I just include that job and nothing else before that and recent voluntary jobs?
In this instance, it would be good to add in one or two jobs before your long-term role as you should have the space on your CV and it shows more about your career history.
Is Covid relevant as it actually had an enormous impact?
Yes, Covid is very relevant and created a big shake-up for many people. Lots of candidates couldn’t start jobs they had secured when lock-down hit, many got made redundant and many were on furlough for a long period.
For a career which has gone on for decades and involved many roles, can I just summarise what I did 20 or 30 years ago rather than break it down into each job?
Yes, your CV should be relevant and tailored to the job you’re applying for. It’s fine to summarise older roles and skills.
How detailed do you need to be with qualifications, i.e. if GCSEs were completed 25 years ago, should these still need to be included? How relevant are these when you have been working 30 years?
If your education was a while ago, you only need to state your highest level of qualification. If you want to include GCSE’s, just summarise with ’10 GCSE’s, A-C.
Could you please share afterwards any tips on effective LinkedIn positioning?
There are some helpful tips on LinkedIn positioning here.
Should you tell an employer you are unemployed or not?
Your CV will have dates on it so it is likely to be clear that you are not currently working. This can be a positive as you are ‘able to start immediately’.
What are your thoughts on using the ‘Open to Work’ feature in LinkedIn?
This is a useful new feature on LinkedIn when looking for work. As always, there are pros and cons. We would say it is useful for recruiters to know your status and may increase your chances of being headhunted. However, be aware that, depending on your LinkedIn settings, your network will receive a notification anytime you change one of your settings so you don’t want to be turning this on and off frequently! There is a way to have this setting only turned on for recruiters which is a safer way to ensure your current employer isn’t alerted to you seeking a new role (although LinkedIn doesn’t guarantee this). There’s a useful article on using the LinkedIn open to work feature here highlighting some considerations.
What happens if you have been in a job for 25 years, but you have been doing the same IT role so there is no obvious progression?
Your job will have changed over this amount of time even if you feel it’s the same job. Try to break it down into time periods so show the breadth of skills you’ve gained and the flexibility you’ve had to show in the ever-changing space of IT.
To whom can I share my CV for review? Is there any services that can provide this?
We are happy to take a look at CVs and give feedback and would usually do this when you are applying for a particular position. If your CV needs a lot of thought and work (maybe after a break or because you want to change career), we’d recommend using a professional for this. There are a number of services available but our recommendations for a personal CV service is Jaqui Winston who we know well.
Are you are writing, or re-writing your CV? Listen to our How to create a winning CV webinar, and read the above CV FAQs and you should have all the information you need.
If we can help you on your job search, please get in touch with us at Ten2Two – we know our stuff!
15 min read
February 10, 2023