Friday, 3 August 2012

Mind The Gap

Dear person whose CV contains no information about what you've been doing since 2010:

Unfortunately, when I read your CV and you've given no indication of what you've been doing since 2010, I don't have time to embark on a thrilling detective adventure and discover what it is that you've opted to omit from your CV.

I'd love to!  Trouble is, I have to look at all these other CVs, CVs written by people less mysterious than you.  I also have to find a way to get all these biscuit crumbs out of my keyboard.  Also, I have to write this blog post, as I haven't updated the blog since (hypocritically enough) 2010.

So, I'm going to assume that you were either in the Foreign Legion or in prison, and then go back to looking at the CVs of people who I don't have to assume have been in the Foreign Legion or in prison.  Is that okay with you?

I could, of course, assume that you've been doing really worthwhile things since 2010, things relevant to your job aspirations, or that you've been in a coma.  But, of course, if either of those things were the case, you'd have mentioned it on your CV.  Unless you're stupid!  And I don't want to assume you're stupid.  Just a criminal or a Foreign Legionnaire.

For any non-stupid, non criminals out there with gaps on their CVs - my advice would be to fill them.  Fill them with information about:

- studies you've undertaken, formal or private
- voluntary work
- freelance work
- work for a friend's company
- travel
- qualifications achieved

And throw in as many technical skills as possible ('While looking for a new permanent position I undertook studies in Java, PHP, horse whispering and CSS').  Bold the skills, bullet-point them, and presto!  Your 2010-date slot will look pretty much like a period of gainful employment at a glance.  Your reader will be infinitely less likely to look at your work history and immediately think, 'ah - a layabout'.

Incidentally, it's perfectly fine to have a sabbatical or a career break, unless you've only been in work for five weeks.  However, it's still a good idea to demonstrate that you've kept your hand in (through studies, working on personal projects, etc) where your marketable skills are concerned.

Don't put anything like 'due to the economic recession I have been looking for work since 2010'.  Non est mea culpas on CVs, no matter how reasonable, project the exact opposite of the image you want to project, which is that of someone who takes responsibility for stuff.  The person evaluating your CV doesn't care about why you haven't found a job, unless it's because you've been in prison, etc.  They care about what you've done to keep your skills fresh while you were looking.

There's no excuse, my gappy friend!  (Unless you were actually in prison, in which case I'll have to check the legalities of not mentioning it on your CV.)

A bientot, comrade.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Graduate Developer, C++, Birmingham, to £24k + bens

Graduating this year with at least a 2.1 degree in a subject involving lots of maths (Maths, for example)?  Good A-levels (particularly in Maths?)  Got some OO development experience, preferably in C++, and want to go down the development route with a fabulous global company based here in buzzing Brum?

Well, jolly good for you!


* bit of French there

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The Pygmalion Principle

You know the charming myth of Pygmalion.  It’s a classic(al) ‘boy makes girl’ love story with a reprehensible lead character and some morally questionable intervention by the goddess Aphrodite. Its message seems to be that when it comes to women, Greek men prefer the chiselled look. But like every other* Greek myth, it also applies to job-hunting in general and job interviews in particular.  It applies to when you are going for a job for which you lack experience.

Here's what I sometimes** call the Pygmalion Principle:

Employers like - or at least like the idea of - moulding employees in their own image.  If there's any aspect of your target job for which you lack experience, you should exploit this quirk of human nature.  Here's how it looks:

'No, Barry, I have no experience in car sales.  I have great people skills, phenomenal drive and intriguing hair, but when it comes to selling cars, I'm looking for someone who knows the market inside out and who can mould me into his idea of the perfect Lada salesperson.'

You get the idea, I hope.  Fantastical as it may seem, the above trick actually works.  If it has any downside, it's that it makes you particularly attractive to precisely the kind of egotistical control-freaks you were probably hoping to avoid working for.  Otherwise, it's a winner!

Next week: the Pygmy Lion Effect.

* I meant 'no other'
** Or, more specifically, now

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