How much time should I spend on my CV?

I saw an advert recently online that said ‘Write your CV in minutes’. OK … Why would I want to do that?

If something is important, then it’s worth doing properly. Think about the effect it will have on you if your CV does what it is supposed to do – get you an interview and subsequently the job that you want. What is that worth to you?

For me it takes at least 8 hours to draft, write and edit a good CV. This is assuming that you have all of the information you need to hand i.e. the dates, job titles and achievements reached in each of your roles. Plus a good idea of what you main strengths are / what makes you special.

One of the shortcuts that I often see is simply copying and pasting all or part of previous job descriptions into the CV. It’s amazing how often I see people doing this and it is very obvious to the employer. Yes it’s quicker, but it will almost always fail to get you selected. The quality of job descriptions I see is usually pretty low and even if it’s a good one, it will do nothing to differentiate you.

This demonstrates one of the most important principles in effective job acquisition strategy. If I was looking for a job for which I was well suited and had a good chance of getting, there would not be more than 10 organisations that I would want to apply to. Most candidates are in the same position. It’s far better to apply for 10 jobs extremely well than 100 jobs with a generic, half relevant CV and letter. (The one exception to this is if you are obliged to for benefits reasons, in which case you should comply completely, but the number required really should depend on your experience and target role and the level of real commitment that you show).

It reminds me of a very useful comment from H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong”

A whole world of sporting analogies and clichés spring to mind here, but the answer to the question ‘How long should I spend writing my CV?’ quite simply is ‘How much do you want a new job?’

Graeme Jordan

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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.

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