Working Life, CVs, Interviews and Other Matters


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The past twenty-four hours has been something of a working day – Well, what passes for a working day for me anyway, let alone anyone else.

Sundays tend to be boring, uneventful days, when I am either dying of boredom or thinking and regretting going to my nine-to-five job – When I had such a job.  And one has to go all the way back to February 2011, when I last had such a job (with a media company via a temping agency).

Anyway, in order to prove a point to a former paramour, I have been proving that if you write good stuff, positive stuff, be it via Twitter or a blog, filtered via Twitter to the masses, you will actually engage people more and they will begin to follow you, versus the complete opposite, where if one is personal, nasty and offensive, no one follows you – In fact you lose people and their goodwill.  No idea if my former paramour followed my final email on the subject, but I digress.

While going about my business tweeting away on Twitter, The Guardian (a national daily Newspaper here in the UK,) was tweeting information on CVs (Resumes,) and how one goes about writing a good one.  A subject not so near and dear to my heart but a subject I like many have some knowledge of.

For a while last year, I set up a CV Writing Service that had no takers (another story entirely,) but not for the reasons of failure.  People wanted me to do it for free as I used to in days past or they found my fees too expensive (this links into another Guardian Article about ‘The Glass Being Half Empty – Again another story, one that deals with acknowledging failure).

I have written CVs for myself that never really ever engaged people until I paid one hundred pounds ten years ago to have a CV professionally done.  The format used is one I have replicated and wrote CVs for people (for free,) who actually made the interview stage and in many cases actually landed the job.  So I am good at writing CVs for other people but not myself. Why is this?

My major problem for many years was not having the skills or experience that prospective employers want, another was my inability to sell myself effectively or communicate effectively.  These are just a few of the reasons why I took up acting lessons in the first place as a means of communication.  This ultimately led to my entering the Acting profession.

Another major problem was my work history.  Instead of a work history that showed career progression, it showed a series of jobs (mainly dead end jobs,) which led nowhere, and they normally did just that because when those jobs ended it was months or years of unemployment.  My life during the 1980s is a perfect example of this and the first half of the 1990s was the same – with the exception of my living and working in The States for a period of time during 1992 – Until I eventually turned things around finally in late 1994.

Despite the turnaround, the same problem remained.  Being trapped in a job (in Market Research,) which while interesting and gaining many good skills, wasn’t really transferable anywhere else outside of that sector.  And as I wanted to move on and away from that Sector, when I was finally laid off ten years ago, that is exactly what happened so apart from a time as an unpaid Production Assistant at a Film and Television Studio in Hendon, North London, a spell as a Film and TV Extra (Supporting Artiste if you will,) a Temp, I have been involved in Show Business as an Actor ever since.  I think you are beginning to see my dilemma and failures over my own CV.

The problem is I have worked in too many sectors, too many different jobs, doing too many different things for a bog standard CV for work in my favour.  There are different formats one can use in developing and writing a CV.  The two I am going to discuss are the:-

  • Chronological CV (Resume)
  • Functional CV (Resume

Chronological CV

This is the ‘Bog Standard’ CV I mentioned above and is normally the format prospective employers like to see.  There are many designs and ways of doing this CV but essentially everything is done in date order, especially one’s work history.  Normally it is one’s current or most reason job first then the previous job and employer and so on.  This works if one (unlike me,) has a steady work pattern and history that tucks in nicely with not many gaps and if so gaps that could be filled in without telling tall stories.  For example, if one is unemployed, you may be doing voluntary work or writing and submitting articles, whether it is via one’s blog or contributing information to others across Social Media.  Yes, you may be unemployed but if you are ‘freelancing’ and doing something productive, then don’t leave it out.

Despite my problems with the Chronological Format, I still have a few versions of this format that I mail out to prospective employers when acting work is thin on the ground – Which it often is.

Functional CV

This Format suits me just fine and fits like a glove.  My problem?  Not many (if any,) prospective employers or recruitment consultants either like this format or (as one of the latter told me,) don’t understand it.  What I like about the Functional CV (when I first came across it in 1988,) is it allows you to list all your skills and training first, then your work history.  One of the reasons it is not really liked is many employers and recruiters want to see where you acquired your skills and how, hence why the Chronological Format is preferred.  Still it is my preferred format for my personal work history.

The odd thing I have found is that British employers are far more willing to accept a Functional CV from a Foreign/EU National than they would from a British job applicant.  I found this to be true a few times when I compiled and wrote a Functional CV for EU Nationals who had interesting, varied and complex education and work histories.  With the above format CV they actually made it to the Interview Stage and got the job, though in one case the person had to turn the job down due education commitments.

So What’s the Solution?

Well this is what I was discussing with some recruitment specialists via Twitter. Although this was not mentioned, I have always found British employers far more willing to give foreign applicants a break far more than they would their British counterpart.  I think this is a well known fact as the BBC has even made programmes about this situation.

Not meaning to sound xenophobic (which I probably do,) that is not my intention at all but British employers have long made it known by their actions in recruitment, that they have no faith in the British Education System generally.

That aside, even though the above was not discussed, what was discussed was how one could bridge the gap between both formats.  One idea was to do a hybrid version of both formats, while another was to stick to the Chronological format as that is what prospective employers want see.

For myself, I don’t feel compelled to be pigeon-holed by any one format that essentially strangles my creativity in presenting and promoting me.

Given I used my background as an example, the subject of applications for arts jobs came into the discussion.  Where the same rules for application via CVs still apply, in the arts (depending on what one is going for,) it is more one’s reputation and the work one has done there that will get one an interview (or audition if you will).

Again using myself as an example, where my acting career is concerned, all my details are online, across many websites (The Spotlight, LinkedIn, The Page UK, Skills Page, Shooting People etc.,) the list goes on.  So from my perspective as an Actor, submitting a CV in MS Word format is something I no longer do nor need to do.  Everything is online, everything is accessible 24/7 to anyone who wishes to examine my career to date and make their decisions in my favour or otherwise.

Overall, where CVs are concerned, there will not be any great change in the attitudes of those hiring but as we are in an ever increasing digital and creative world, such concepts of an ‘Infographic CV’ which already exists will gain even greater prominence.  What I tend to do in order to supplement my Chronological CV, is to include a web link on my CV to my LinkedIn Profile, which is far more comprehensive than the CV itself.  So that is one way of making good use of the Chronological CV. By adding interested information that can be found online.

Having said all of the above, if one’s CV is not even engaging on a first look, then no matter how interesting you are or your career, you have fallen at the first hurdle. So given all of the above, ensure your CV/Resume is easy on the eye and can be read just as easily.

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