I came across a short video yesterday about how to write your first CV, coincidentally produced by the National Careers Service. I doubt that the advice given in the video, and the sample CV provided, will do little to help job seekers secure an interview. The formatting is poor, there was no mention of targetting the CV, no section for skills and achievements and no mention of keyword matching and ATS. They advised that you include skills and achievements in the profile or in the hobbies/interests sections. Nonsense! They did, however, fare a little better on their cover letter advice. You can watch the video here: http://vimeo.com/60555694 but I don't recommend you follow their advice, so do exercise caution!
From time to time I look at what other CV writers (my competitors) are offering and, while there are undoubtedly some good, professional providers out there, there are also some who should be given a wide berth. But how can a jobseeker know who to trust or what to believe?
Jobseekers are often vulnerable and they don't know whether they're getting good advice or bad. It's certainly difficult. But here's a brief list of things to look out for.
- Avoid CV writers who don't talk with you before you commit. You need to talk with the CV writer who will actually be interviewing you and writing your CV. You need to trust them to give you their time and attention, to ask lots of questions and to really take an interest in you - not just as another fee-paying client but as a real person with individual needs and aspirations.
- Upload/download CV writing services can be risky. If the content of your CV is poor, then reformatting is not going to improve your chances of success. Your CV might look nicer, but the content will still be poor and will fail to get you interviews. Unless you're absolutely certain that the content is good, then don't use a reformatting service.
- Many companies offer to review your CV for free and then inevitably follow up with advice that you should pay them to rewrite your CV. Effectively, you're being "baited" by the free offer and then they'll want you to sign up with them for a paid CV writing service. There's nothing wrong with that in principle; it's how business is often done. But when you reach the "lure" stage, follow my advice in "1" above. You might also want to read my earlier blog on Free CV Reviews, which you can read by clicking this link: Compelling CV's Article on Free CV Reviews
- You get what you pay for: If someone is charging £15, £25, £35 for your CV then, really... what quality of service are you expecting? Why do they put such a low value on their service? At those prices, how can they make a living? How much time will they spend interviewing you and writing your CV? How many drafts/re-writes? Or will they just be copying and pasting generic "fluff" into your new "templated" CV? And speaking of templates, you can read our reasons for NOT using templates here: Why we don't use templates
- Having your CV professionally written is an investment in your future. It will impact on your ability to get interviews and it will affect your earning power. Therefore you shouldn't skimp on price where there's a risk of jeopardising quality. If the CV writer doesn't place a realistic value on their service, I suggest you avoid them like the plague.
- Are they interested in your aspirations? Do they want to know what job you're applying for? Have they asked to read the job advertisement? If they don't know where you're headed, how can they help you to get there?
- Many CV writing companies farm out your CV to freelancers. Again, nothing wrong with that except you do need to speak to the actual writer and establish a rapport with them before you commit.
- Avoid friends who offer to write your CV for you. I heard recently of a friend's son being asked to help create a CV for someone, purely because he was good on a computer!
- I'm personally suspicious of CV writers who only have a mobile telephone number.
- Are the CV writer's testimonials genuine? Anyone can write fabulous testimonials for their own website and I've seen one CV writer who offers financial incentives to gain testimonials, which rather undermines the process! So, try to establish whether testimonials have been provided on an independent third-party site, where they are more likely to be genuine.
There are many pitfalls to seeking CV writing and advice. So you need to exercise caution, ask lots of questions, be able to talk to the person who will write your CV (before you commit), bear in mind that you'll get what you pay for, and then trust your instinct.
Good luck in your job search and don't hesitate to contact us. We're always happy to talk.
Professional CV Writer and Career Coach