Having a consistent CV
If there’s one thing as important as an accurate CV, it’s having one that’s consistent.
Filed in Changing jobs
Ah, the good old CV. It's been around so long that it's named in Latin. It's still the cornerstone of the recruitment process, despite online advances.
Before applying for a job, most people give their CV the once-over - and perhaps tickle it up here and there. Fair enough - but really a CV requires a touch more maintenance than that.
A lot of issues we see with CVs revolve around consistency - how consistent they are with themselves and how consistent they are with other (easily found) information about you and how consistent they are in terms of language.
How consistent is your CV with itself?
When you've created or changed your CV, print it out, grab a coffee and retire somewhere quiet to look over it in detail. As well as this, pass it to someone who doesn't know you too well - not your spouse. Many CVs have glaring errors which you're just not going to easily see. These include things like overlapping dates for jobs, company names spelt incorrectly or dates which are plain wrong (for example, having experience of something before it actually existed - such as "working with Web-based technologies since 1980").
How consistent is your CV in terms of language?
English and grammar are important - but many errors on CVs are simply around consistency. For example, spelling the same words in different ways (online, on line, on-line or email, e-mail or e-learning, elearning, eLearning). You can argue until the cows come home about which of these is correct - and we're not going to act as grammar police here - but at least make them consistent.
Similar errors include having one headline with initial capitals and another without, having one set of numbers as words and another as numerals. Or, another classic, is that part of a CV is written in the third person while another part of it is written in the first person.
Do you think this is picky? Well, that's one perspective. Another perspective is that it's sloppy - when you're applying for a job, that's not a great trait to be seen to have. When your CV flies out into the world, you won't be with it to either answer questions or defend its grammar. Make it as good as you can.
How consistent is your CV with the outside world?
Most people these days have a pretty significant Internet footprint. Gone, gone, long gone are the times when information on your CV couldn't be easily verified.
Work right through your CV and make sure it really does tally up with what you're saying in other places. Do your job dates match what you've said on LinkedIn? Do your job titles match - have you tweaked your job roles to align yourself to this latest opportunity, yet LinkedIn says something different?
Look at the text - are your descriptions of your experience consistent? They don't have to be exactly the same - but they do need to be aligned.
Are your hobbies listed as travelling and snowboarding on your CV, yet Facebook says you're into beer and pies?
Do you run a blog? What are you saying on there about yourself? Are you profiled on your current employer's website? What does it say? (Does it say you're a junior instructional designer whereas your CV says you're head of learning and development?)
Don't think for one minute that you won't be checked out online. If a company is interested in you, it will be one of the next things they do after putting your CV into the shortlist pile.
And so what if your Facebook pages are set to private? It's not unusual for potential employers to ask you to login, so they can take a look. It's not for us to cast judgement on this - but it's worth being aware of it before you head off for that important interview.
The bottom line
Inconsistency can catch you out. It can lead to you not getting an interview. It can lead to uncomfortable questions and embarrassing moments. It can make you look unprofessional.
Consistency on the other hand… well, you won't win a consistency prize, that's for sure. No one is going to say, "Whoa, this is the most consistent CV ever" - they'll just not be distracted and judge you on what's there. Which is, after all, the purpose of a CV.