Top CV advice from Cedar

Graham is Senior Partner at Cedar. Starting his recruitment career in 1997, Graham worked in a small number of leading recruitment organisations before joining Cedar in 2004. The majority of his recruitment career has been spent sourcing mid to senior level finance professionals, working closely with a diverse mix of clients ranging from FTSE 100 to privately owned start-up companies across the UK and overseas.      

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Graham Thornton   

Senior Partner – Head of Permanent Practice        

What are the most common CV mistakes you’ve seen?

A CV that reads as a job spec and lacks achievements.  Your job title tells me what you are employed to do but what have you actually delivered in role?  What is going to distinguish you from your peers? Another bugbear; too many pages or too few pages. Let us once and for all dispel the two page CV myth.  A CV does not need to be restricted to two pages.  It can be three pages if your experience and achievements warrant three pages.  At a push four pages can also be acceptable.

What do you look for on a CV?   

Consistent progression, success and longevity within company

Should a candidate include hobbies and interests on their CV?   

Absolutely.  These add colour to the professional portrait that the CV presents.  It is an insight into you as a person in addition to you as the business professional.  However, avoid excitable punctuation, shouting to the world that you are terribly excited about “learning to cook!!” is of no benefit whatsoever.

What advice do you give candidates on interview preparation?   

You can never do enough prep.  Do not put yourself in a position where you are rejected at any stage of the interview process based purely on lack of preparation around company knowledge, awareness of the role or even lack of preparation of ‘selling’ yourself through competencies.  If you are going to fail then do so based on lack of appropriate experience rather than being poorly prepared.

Can you share some of the biggest fails you’ve heard at interviews?   

In a word, no.  Anecdotally we have heard some incredible interview faux pas.  However, the most frustrating are those where people have failed to prepare properly for the interview or failed to fully engage any common sense when asking a question or making an observation.  This applies to clients as well as candidates!

In your opinion, what makes a candidate stand out?   

A CV that ticks all the points that I previously mentioned.  But, if you only do one thing, ensure that your CV is achievement based.  Sell yourself.  The candidate market is as competitive now as the 2007 peak.  Right now there are a mass of candidates looking to make a move.  Your CV is a recruitment consultant’s and client’s first insight into you as a candidate.  Ensure that your target audience are not left in any doubt as to the value that you can bring to an organisation.

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