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Career Quandary: Is presentation more important than content in my CV?

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Neville Rose, director at CV Writers, answers an environment professional’s dilemma about the presentation of their CV.

Question: A recruitment consultant recently told me that presentation is more important than content in my CV. I thought this seemed a bit shallow. Surely content wins over presentation every time?

Neville Rose says...

The temptation to agree with you and not the recruitment consultant is almost overwhelming. I want to agree with you. I feel it is right to agree with you. The only thing is I can’t. In most things in life you would be absolutely right. However, with CVs, it’s not so clear cut and here’s why.

If a recruiter has a large number of CVs to sift through – and in a competitive jobs market that is often the case –  then they may feel the luxury of having plenty of CVs to choose from. Mistakes and inconsistent formatting stick out like sore thumbs to a seasoned recruiter.  They can easily satisfy themselves that there are still enough other ‘good’ CVs without errors to choose from.  

It’s important to remember, humans are fickle. We all vary with our individual foibles, pet hates and likes. Poor presentation, typos and formatting issues are pet hates for many recruiters. Some love to pick out the incorrect spelling of ‘driving licence’ too often spelt with an ‘s’.  You can be sure that many potential interviews will have been missed by this small mistake in a CV.

The fact is that presentation is the one thing in a CV that you have a great deal of control over. There is no excuse for spelling mistakes. However, you can never be 100% sure whether the content of your CV will be exactly what an employer is looking for. Therefore, always make sure that the presentation is as good as you can possibly make it. It gives you the right platform from which the reader can then engage with the content of your CV.

This CV advice is brought to you by Neville Rose, director of CV Writers. If you would like help with your CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile, CV Writers can help through a variety of CV services.

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