I’ve been helping someone with their CV. I immediately deleted the first paragraph. They’d been advised to write, “I am hardworking and work well both in a team and independently. I am a good communicator, highly motivated and good at time management…” etc etc. This was the “profile” section.

This is just waffle. Who ISN’T going to say they’re hardworking? Who ISN’T going to say they’re a team player? So it becomes meaningless.

The Business Channel filming, April 2012

On the other hand, I appreciate that, when you’re young, you might not have much experience to put on a CV. You may not even have had a paid job, ever. But you can still do better than this.

Recruiters are busy people. They don’t have time to wade through waffle. Someone once told me that when they were advertising for a job, they’d asked people to fill in a form in black ink. All those that used blue ink went straight in the bin. They needed a way to weed people out – they’d had so many applications! So you need to stand out quickly.

Be brief and to the point. Cut out all extraneous waffle. And include a photo (controversial, I know, in this age of anonymising applications) but in my business, it matters what you look like – I am a TV presenter for goodness sake!

I recently had to redo my own CV from scratch, going back 30 years! I haven’t been asked for a CV for so long, I had deleted it (usually people just Google me or I point them towards some links on YouTube, or I send them a biog). But this was quite an old-school, establishment employer and they wanted a CV. Now, being freelance, I work for maybe 20 different clients a year, and this is constantly changing, so that makes 20 clients x 30 years = 600 employers/jobs. Far too much to put on one sheet of paper (the general rule). So you end up leaving things out – and some of those are important. For example, I worked for many years for BBC News as a reporter and presenter – important! But the last time I worked there was 2002 – 18 years ago. So does that get left out? Or stay in? (answer: it stays in).

Anyway, CV writing is an art and I’m not against showing any personality. But keep it snappy and to the point. And – as I am not a recruiter – I am happy to hear other views 🙂

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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