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Article: Getting a One Page CV to Work For You
One page CVs can be the most powerful of all, and they certainly stand out from the crowd over and above their longer counterparts.
And there is one pretty considerable proviso however – and that is that they are well thought out and extremely well-written. Herein lays the dilemma, because one page CVs are the hardest of all to write – but if you get it right there is nothing better.
Where do people go wrong?
Firstly, it isn’t just people who go wrong, most professional CV writers and CV companies really struggle to write quality one-page CVs, which is why most fall into two categories; those which are too basic and don’t say enough, and those which make a mess of trying to fit too much into the available (restricted) space.
Basic one page CVs
Many one-page CVs look very presentable, and do stand out from the crowd. As such, at the very least, they stand a better chance than most of being read by the employer. However, being read and making the right impression are two completely separate things. Yes, your CV needs to be neat, presentable and legible, but on top of that it also needs to persuade the employer that you can not only do the job, but are also the best candidate for the job. It is unlikely that you will do this with just a few basic bullet points saying ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that.’
You need to go much further than that you want to impress.
At the same time, you have to get the balance right, and this is far from easy which is why many people (and CV companies) overcomplicate them.
Overcomplicated one page CVs
The problem starts when you have things to tell the employer, but normally it would take you two or three pages to say what you want to. This is not an uncommon problem. Indeed, most people naturally take two or three pages to write what they want to on a CV. At the same time, many people are aware of the fact that CV length is important and that one page CVs do stand out from the crowd. What many jobseekers do therefore is to cram this information into one page, rather like they would stuff two week’s worth of clothes into an overnight bag. As you can imagine, something has to give. On the overnight bag it would probably be the zip, but on your CV frequently the trade-off is significant elements such as legibility, presentation and first impressions. Less obvious trade-offs include a more complex and diluted sales message. This may not sound so significant if it is less obvious – however it is extremely significant because your sales message is what sells you to the employer (or not a case may be).
Technical people and lesser CV companies use to try to compensate include resorting to miniscule fonts, and squashing all the entries and sections together. Frequently the end result is something which, yes, does (just about) fit on one page, but which at the same time is usually too messy, cluttered and complicated to entice employers to want to read it.
As mentioned previously, you need to get the balance right, and there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.
Getting the balance right
What should a one-page CV look like?
It should be balanced, well proportioned, neat and presentable. Ideally it should also include neat single line bullet points (rather than cluttered paragraphs).
What should a one-page not CV look like?
Pretty much the opposite of the above; there should be no clutter, there should be sufficient spacing between the sections, and it should not include long paragraphs or squashed together multiline entries.
What should a one-page CV do?
A well thought out and well written one-page CV should sell your skills in a clear, concise and focused manner. This message should be pertinent to the job and be delivered proactively and powerfully.
If you have a one-page CV and it doesn’t do that – then you really need to address the problem because submitting a one-page CV without power and impact really defeats the object – you want your one-page CV to be more powerful than a two-page CV, if you can’t do that then you either need to reassess things, or engage a top professional CV writer to do the job properly for you.
So what are the pitfalls?
There are several pitfalls to writing a good quality one-page CV. The biggest pitfall of all is that it takes real writing skill, experience and talent to be able to take two or three pages of relevant information and refine it down clearly, concisely yet proactively into just one page. Some people (including some professional CV companies) think it is impossible, but that isn’t so. It is possible if you know what you’re doing and you have the skills and talent. The best CVs say more with fewer words, and the best CV writers can do just that.
Another potential pitfall is method – or rather lack of it!
As mentioned, experience certainly helps when it comes to writing quality one-page CVs, but in addition to experience you also need good structure and sound methods. Without this it is pretty much inevitable that the resultant curriculum vitae will not be as high impact as you had hoped.
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