Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)
Over the years I’ve been asked lots of weird and wonderful questions about what to include and what not to include in a CV. Some of these questions have been relevant, some have been a little strange and others have just been downright ridiculous. To cut a long story short, I have included below a list of some of the most frequently asked questions with some possible suggestions. The answer to each question depends on you and your level of common sense. If truth be told, you can probably answer most of the questions yourself.
Q: What colour paper should I use?
Don’t use brightly coloured paper. Use white A4 paper-cream or grey at the most extreme. Make sure that the paper is good quality and not cheap. Remember, the quality of the paper you use to write your CV on reflects on you as a person.
Q: How long should it be?
The whole CV should be kept to a maximum of 2 pages in length but in some extreme circumstances and I mean extreme circumstances employers can be quite flexible. However, don’t go testing their patience by sending anything that resembles a scroll.
Q: Is it necessary to include references?
Not necessarily unless the employer has specifically asked for them. It’s highly unlikely anyone will want to take up your references before a job offer has been made. Do not include your references at this stage because it just takes up valuable space on your CV. Save the space for something more relevant.
Q: Should I include my GCSE’s?
Include the main ones like Maths, English and Science. If grades from other subjects are relevant to your application then put them in. Don’t include anything negative, like failed exams or poor results.
Q: What do I say about potential GCSE/A’ level result/Degree classification?
Be positive and assume you will get a good degree or good GCSE’s or A Level results. Don’t put anything on your CV to suggest to the employer that you are not confident about potential exam results or degree classification.
Q: Is it important to include my age?
No! Since the introduction of various government legislations i.e. the Age Discrimination Act (ADA) etc., people have tended not to include their age. Putting your age on the CV gives employers another reason to reject you.
Q: Should I include my gender?
If you have a name that might confuse an employer then make sure you clarify your sex. Lesley and Jamie are good examples as both can be male or female names.
Q: Should I disclose my disability?
Your disability is a personal and private matter and it’s entirely up to you if you want to include it on your CV or a cover letter accompanying your CV. You might prefer to see how your application goes and bring the subject up later on in the application process. The decision is up to you but if you do decide to disclose your disability then be positive and highlight specific achievements related to your disability.
Q: Do I need to include my hobbies & interests?
Hobbies and interests are relevant but the success of your CV does not depend on it. What makes your CV attractive and impressive is the way you present the information about your interests and achievements. Don’t worry too much about it.
Q: Do I need to include a covering letter?
Yes! Your cover letter should be no more than one side of A4 and should be written in the same font as your CV. From past experience, I’ve found that candidates who included a covering letter with their CV were far more likely to get a response than those that didn’t.
Q: Is it relevant to include my salary expectations?
Asking for a six-figure salary and not a penny less will definitely set alarm bells ringing. Again, this can only act as a reason to reject you. You never know what kind of negotiations can take place during the face-to-face interview, so keep your options open and avoid making silly mistakes like this. On the flip side, if you are asked for salary information in the job advert, you can put it in your cover letter.