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Fashion Buying: CV tips from an industry expert

We are delighted to share this piece on CV tips from our highly experienced fashion buying and merchandising programme manager and tutor, Annemarie McAuley. Annemarie comes with a wealth of industry knowledge with over 20 years experience in the sector and over the last number of years she has been successfully preparing the fashion students at Portobello Institute towards interviews and employment into their chosen roles in fashion.

I have seen a lot of CV's

Some are brilliant, most are just ok and many are in need of alot of work. The toughest part is that for years, I’ve continued to see the same mistakes made time and time again by candidates, many of which can eliminate them for a job. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager can reject an otherwise interesting and very able candidate. The importance of the right CV is a well-discussed topic but the same mistakes across CV’s has been a re-occurring trend. In the full support of helping candidates to make it past that first and crucial CV screening, here are the five biggest mistakes you should avoid.

Mistake 1: Typing errors

This one seems obvious, but it happens time and time again. A 2017 CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of CVs have typing errors and spelling mistakes. In fact, people who tweak a CV, whilst being most careful can be especially vulnerable to this kind of error. This is because they often result from repeatedly going back to fine tune a CV just one last time, and in doing so, a subject and verb suddenly doesn’t match up, or a full stop is left in the wrong place, or a set of dates gets knocked out of alignment. Typos are deadly because employers can ultimately interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation and sadly as a failure to care about quality.   So what is the fix? Read your CV from bottom to top and reversing the normal order helps you focus on each line in isolation. Alternatively, have someone else proof read it closely for you.

Mistake 2: Length

A good rule of thumb is one page of CV for every 10 years of work experience. Hard to fit it all in, right? A 3, 4 or 10-page resume simply won’t get read closely. A crisp, focused CV demonstrates an ability to synthesise, prioritise, and also convey the most important information about yourself.  Some food for thought: the sole purpose of a CV is to get an interview. It’s not to convince a hiring manager to say “yes” to you, as that’s what the interview is for, or indeed to tell your life story (that’s what family are for). Your CV is the right tool that gets you to that first interview. Once you’re in that room, the CV is now secondary.

Mistake 3: Formatting

Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your CV both clean and legible so formatting correctly is key. In short, use a least font size 12 and half inch margins on white paper with black ink. There needs to be consistent spacing between lines, columns aligned, with your name and contact information on every page. Sometimes, formatting can get distorted when moving across platforms so a quick tip is to save it as a PDF to avoid this problem.

Mistake 4: Lies

Putting any mistruth on your CV is never, ever worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, get fired for this. People tell of particular qualifications, such as degrees (which may be three credits shy of a college degree, but it is not a degree) and also where they went to college. People also exaggerate how long they were employed at companies, their team size and the sales targets achieved. You can describe the importance of every role on your CV professionally without extending the truth.

There are three big problems with being dishonest on your CV:
1. You can easily get caught out. The internet, reference checks, and people who worked at a company with you can reveal all.
2. Mistruths follow you forever. Telling a fib on a resume might seem ok at the time but fast forward 15 years later to being offered a big promotion and then all is discovered? Try explaining that in your next interview.
3. Our mums taught us better. You are better than that.

Hiring managers are looking for the best people they can find so take the time to avoid these common types of mistakes on your CV. A well compiled CV will always show your true worth to any employer. Everyone wants to stand out from the crowd and while achievements are important, your own hard work, personality and individual traits that make you unique will also help you to shine through.

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