Sprucing up your CV after 20 years

Q: I’m updating my CV for the first time in 20 years – for my last three jobs, I was head-hunted within my sector (sales). Now I’ve seen a job I’d like to chase, and I need a CV. I’ve a few questions that perhaps you can answer? (KK, email).

A: We’re happy to try.


Q: I did my Leaving Cert. in 1993. I got good results. I dropped out of college after a few months because a) I didn’t like engineering, and b) I got a fairly good job. Should I include my Leaving Cert. results on the CV and how do I portray those few months in college?

A: At this juncture, I wouldn’t bother with the Leaving Cert. results. It was quite a while ago and they have little enough bearing on where you are now. Regarding your few months in college, I’d just omit them – not because you should be sheepish about dropping out (it’s often a very good idea, in my opinion) but because it’s neither here nor there at this stage, as the saying goes.


Q: Should I put my photograph on the CV?

A: This is a personal choice. Most people in Ireland tend not to include their photos, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Almost everyone puts their photo on LinkedIn, a first cousin of a CV. If you’re using a photo, make it a professional one – not a 2o’c-the-night-of-a-wedding job where you look the worse for wear.

I once ran a poll on one of our social media profiles: “Do you put your own photo on your CV?”

A woman replied: “No, I put Angelina Jolie’s photo on it.”

I’d asked for it.


Q: Since I started working in December 1993, I’ve done a good few jobs. Do I give each of them equal prominence in the CV?

A: No. Regular readers of this column, bless them, will know that I often use the phrase “relevance is more important than chronology”.

In your CV and, indeed, your cover letter, you need to shine the light on the relevant jobs you did. Relevance is determined by the job you are now chasing. Which of your previous jobs most closely match this role you’re not eyeing up? That’s where you give more prominence by writing more bullet points to describe what you did, what you achieved, the contact base you built up and so on.

It’s your job to serve that up to the employer. Think it through and put the emphasis on what’s really relevant.


Q: Should I include referee names and contact details on my CV?

A: Here, doctors differ, but patients rarely die. A large multinational will have their ways and means of finding your referees or will come back to you for them if they’re interested in you.

A small-medium enterprise might be quite glad of the information as they are unlikely to have a dedicated HR department. It really makes little or no different in the heel of the hunt. Personally, I incline towards ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’ as including them is no major burden for the CV to carry. Tell referees they may get a call and let them know the direction you are now hoping to travel.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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