We presume because you know you cannot get a job at the level you have been used to. So you think your background will scare off future employers.

I’m tempted to say that if you have previously been very successful, and you feel your CV will be intimidating, then perhaps you are looking for the wrong role? Or perhaps you are going about it the wrong way.

It is always difficult for someone to take a step back in their career, both for the new employer and for the individual. Will they genuinely be happy going back a few steps?

In this situation my advice is usually that you are unlikely to get such a job just from your CV, much more likely to do so from your personal contacts. By explaining to people who may previously have been competitors your situation, they may well be prepared to give you a go. After all they know you won’t let them down and they know you definitely know what you’re doing.

Toning down a CV is difficult, if you have been a sales manager are you suggesting you should put yourself down as a sales executive? Because that would be inaccurate, and in reality I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Perhaps fact by focusing less on your achievements and more on the nature of the job and how much of the more menial tasks you carried out, you might be able to tip the balance. But you are what you are, work out a way of making that attractive.

If you do want to take a step back then maybe it’s also a time to change industries. Perhaps to one that you’ve always wanted to join but it’s never been the right time. Because by moving sideways this way, you nearly always have to take a backward step. And you could do so without feeling that your career was going backwards as well. And if your old industry suddenly picks up, everyone will understand why you took the steps you did.

Jobseekers need to be prepared for this, as we are seeing it happen more and more. Is it illegal? We don’t think so, although there are certain rules around recruitment agencies deliberately advertising jobs at inflated salaries to attract candidates.

However, if an employer does it then there is little legal redress, you merely have a decision to make.

First of all, what is the reason for the reduced salary? Perhaps you do not have quite the experience they are looking for, or alternatively there are plenty of candidates around at a much lower salary level. The employer cannot bring themselves to quite pay the full rate when there are cheaper alternatives.

But perhaps the applicant has been out of work for some time. Perhaps the employer judges them to be in a vulnerable position.

For the jobseeker this is always a nuanced decision. You have to ask whether you would want to work for an employer who would do this to you. Though in reality it may be the HR or finance department demanding the reduction, not the person you are going to be reporting to.

It will also depend on whether you have any other alternatives. Because if you don’t, it is a choice between being paid and continuing to look for a new role.

A test I always suggest candidates use is “Would I have considered this had it been advertised at this salary originally?”

Because if the answer is that you would, then you are probably foolish not to consider it now. Business, after all, is all about negotiation and a deal is never done until contracts are issued. Although the economy is rebounding, you might be foolish not to consider such a role.

In reality it is always best to point out to the employer that you are disappointed but that you will accept. And you probably will have no compunction about continuing to look, in case the right thing comes along at the right money. And of course, in a year’s time when you have proven your worth to the organisation, you can then tackle your salary package and see if there is an opportunity to have it lifted to the level you think is correct.

One slightly frustrating aspect of this, naturally, is that the same HR departments who cleverly tried to undercut salaries where they can, are extremely careful not to be accused of discrimination. So it rarely happens where this is a possibility, and ironically many of the people missing out are middle-aged, white males. We wonder whether in the future this could become an issue.

When you start writing a CV the trap lots of people fall into is to produce a job description. In many roles what you do is already known.

What a recruiter wants from your application or CV is information that tells them about you, not about the role of a sales manager or receptionist. They are not going to phone the MD and say “I’ve had an application from a sales executive who seems to be in contact with customers. Just what we want”.

They all want people who can achieve, who can have a positive impact, who are reliable. What they don’t know is how many products you sell, how many people you manage, what targets you have. Whether you have achieved them.

Managers – I know you are required to maximise profit, minimise costs, hit targets, manage people, deal with suppliers. That is what you do.

Put it another way, if David Beckham put a CV together you wouldn’t see “Football is a game played between two teams of 11 players………..” He would assume the reader had some prior knowledge.

He might say “My role was to patrol the right side of midfield, tackling back where appropriate, passing to the forwards and shooting at goal when in the right part of the field” He might.

But he would be much better advised to say :

Manchester United – 265 games, 95 goals
England – 115 games, 58 as Captain, 17 goals

What he has done is quite impressive – what he was doing is pretty boring on paper.

There’s plenty to worry about at the moment, and plenty of pressure on people who have lost their jobs, or who want to move to pastures new.

But, as top sportsmen always say, worry about what you can control, don’t waste your time and effort on what you can’t.

And one of the most elementary things to control is your spelling. You would be amazed at the number of people who do not use spell check, having typed out their CV oh so carefully.

Of course it could be that they do use it, but profoundly disagree with the outcomes and ignore them, but I suspect not.

Here are three of my favourite words that get spelt incorrectly:

  • Curriculum Vitae: It literally means “The way or course of life”. But most people just know it goes at the top of what the Americans call your Resume. Either don’t use it, or spell it correctly. It is the first thing that gets noticed.
  • Guy Liddall (Our MD): note that it is not spelt LiDL, or Liddell. (He’s not precious about it normally, as no one gets it correct unless they have read it somewhere. But the fact you didn’t bother to look it up tells me something about you, and it will definitely tell employers something).
  • Principal: Principals are sometimes heads of businesses, heads of schools or heads of retail outlets like car dealerships. They may not have many principles, that is for you to judge, but the correct spelling is Principal.

English is a difficult language to spell. Unlike many languages, we have not taken the time to work out how to do it logically, so you need the help of spellcheck.

Don’t hesitate to use it, many employers will use it as a benchmark of your literacy. In reality it just tells me how careful you are. And I would quite like careful people working for me.

As the world has changed over the past year, and many more are working from home, there has been a growing trend to produce CVs that include no address details at all. You may well get a mobile number and an email address, but nothing else.

Of course you have used a covering email, stating exactly where you are, or what areas you would like to find working, and how you can be contacted.

But by omitting any address information, and I have seen some CV writers out there suggest that this information is irrelevant, then recruiters simply do not know where you are located. And those that are fortunate enough to work in sectors that are recruiting, are inundated with people.

So if in the automatic processing of your CV no location can be picked up, then you are likely to go into a “hold” pile, to be returned to when they have time. Which might be next June.

So while the chief executive of a major corporation could probably live almost anywhere, because the company will relocate them, for your average worker it is quite important where you are based. And given the choice, most employers will choose employees close to them rather than at the other end of the country.

In a competitive job market, the first job of the recruiter is to reject quickly those who are not right. If they are not sure of your location, will they give you the benefit of the doubt? If they are struggling to find the right person then maybe, if they are not then you probably haven’t got a hope of getting onto the shortlist.

We know that some people worry about security and identity theft, but with the prevalence of online information, your CV is not going to be the first place they look to do this. And so long you don’t add your passport number, driving licence, wife’s name and so on, they will not have much to go on they can’t get from the electoral register.

So give them the information they need. A postcode at the very minimum, your post town and even your address just to complete the picture.

So they know where you are.

Imagine being on immigration control at Heathrow airport, especially post Brexit.

You will need to look at thousands of passports every day, quickly turn to the right page and work out who this person is in front of you. Do they look like their photo, where they have come from and are they eligible to enter the country?

A boring and repetitive job. But made much easier because most passports conform to an international standard. They can be scanned electronically and by a human quickly and easily.

Now imagine that the same person standing in front of your immigration desk had got creative. They had decided to add a few more photos and put all of their information in a different order. And made it difficult to be scanned by a machine. How quickly do you think they would get through?

Now think about your CV. In a world where there may be hundreds of applications for the same position, how quickly will your CV get through if it is in an unusual layout. Or if the information that recruiters need to find is difficult to pull out of it.

How quickly do you think you will get through their queues? How often do you think you will get rejected?

Instinctively I think you know the answer.

Which is why we get really boring with CV layouts. Make sure they are logical, clear and concise. And contain all of the information that recruiters expect to see. Because if they don’t, then very quickly you can find yourself being rejected for a job you have the perfect background for.

How frustrating is that?

Your CV needs to be written in plain English, people need to be able to understand what you do and not misunderstand it.

So quite a useful test (and I do realise I am making an assumption that you are married and have in-laws) is to give your CV to the in-laws, or failing that to an aunt or uncle or someone slightly disconnected from you. Ask them to scan your CV for 10-20 seconds and tell you what you do.

Now some of them may have a head start, and already understand exactly what your job is. But try and choose someone who doesn’t, because in reality it will be somebody who does not know you at all who will be picking up your document and trying to decipher it. And if they cannot do so easily and quickly you may quickly get rejected.

Sadly the world today is all about instant impact. And if you cannot make that, then you fall behind others in the queue.

So a CV that is well laid out, simple to navigate and clear is essential. It is not about flashy colours, good illustrations and so on, because recruiters want to find the information they need to know in the places they expect them to be.

So try the in-laws test. How quickly does your CV tell them what they need to know?

Finding your next role can be tricky. And you are bound to get rejected a lot of the time. But how much work have you put into it?

We have all seen the headlines – those job seekers who have made 2,000 applications and not had a single reply. Which is fine, but with the click of a mouse I can make multiple applications to an agency for multiple jobs. A simple as that.

But is that really looking for a job? For agencies that are deluged with candidates and under serious pressure. If they see somebody apply for a Managing Director and a Receptionist role, are they going to treat any of those applications seriously?

So how hard do you work at your job search? 

  • Do you draw up a list of roles that you think you would be suited for, and then a list of employers you would ideally like to work for? 
  • Do you approach those employers directly, or even find people who work there, connect with them and ask for their help? 
  • Once you have submitted an application, do you ever follow up?

It is competitive out there. Unless you treat your search for a job as a job, and something that you need to work as hard as you ever worked for your previous employer, then it may be difficult.

It is why some people find it so easy to get into another role, where others struggle for months. Roll up your sleeves, get professional about it and sooner or later the tide will turn.

Or contact us and see if we can put you on the right road. 

I see it many times. 

People have put together their CV quite badly but they have spent ages agonising over their personal profile, before starting on the CV proper. 

The profile is not that important, but the contents of the CV are. So get that part fixed to begin with. The personal profile, on the other hand, is the part of your CV that can be adapted to various different situations. And certainly can be adapted to ensure it matches the needs of any job role you are looking at.

The reason for this is that recruiters and artificial intelligence will often scan through personal profiles to check whether they match job requirements and specifications. 

The personal profile does not need to be fixed, and while we would not recommend producing 26 different CVs for 26 different job applications, this small part of your CV can easily be adapted. 

So do not fret about it to begin with, you’re probably going to change it later in any case. 

Plenty of jobseekers do not show their age on their CV. And there is no reason for them to do so.

So we looked through a CV a few weeks ago that was actually quite well laid out. There was some decent qualifications there, although they gave no hint as to when schools and colleges were attended, so we turned to the job history.

Again this stopped in the year 2000, nothing earlier than that was shown. We have no problem with any of this, as I say any jobseeker is perfectly entitled to take any reference to their age off the CV to prevent age discrimination.

Except, having so carefully covered their tracks I look at their email address: joebloggs1957@gmail.com (apologies to the real Joe Bloggs, I have changed the name). I did not need Hercule Poirot to help me out, but I reckon John was born before 1958.

It is amazing how careful you can be and then miss the blindingly obvious isn’t it?

Of course I realise it’s a tough market, and of course there are millions of people looking for work.

But we work with lots of people, and we know that many have poor CVs, are looking for jobs in the wrong places, and are putting themselves at the back of the queue when it comes to their job search.

The problem is, most of us panic when we are out of work. And most of us think we know better than anyone else about their career.

We work with individuals at all levels. And do you know what? Few have a high enough opinion of their own experience and their own abilities. So they rarely communicate just what a positive effect they have had on their previous employers. If you don’t tell people how good you are, no one will guess it.

There’s a whole load of technology that sifts and filters applications, especially when those recruiting are receiving 1000s of them. Most of it is common sense and a great help to sift through potential candidates.

But if you do not realise it is there, if you do not know how it works, then you might think a friendly human face is going to make an inspired choice and choose your CV. Computers won’t do that, especially if you don’t play their game.

And employers are now using remote technology to interview and shortlist. You won’t understand how a poor online interview can make you look terrible. Some simple steps can make you look far better than anyone else. But if you have not been told, then you don’t have much of a chance.

We see this the whole time, and we can change people’s chances in just a few weeks. As plenty of testimonials will show.

It doesn’t cost much, but talk to the professionals. We really can make a difference.


When you write your CV, or get an expert to do it for you, remember it needs to achieve just one thing – get you interviews. 

Are you applying for roles that you think are perfect for you but that interview invitation just isn’t coming your way? It could just be that your CV is not doing you and your career justice. 

For your CV to make an instant impact with a recruiter they need to find the information they need to see within around six seconds. 

As CV experts, we know what those things are and how to put your CV together so they are visible and so are you. 

You’d go to a dentist with a toothache, why not use a CV writing expert to produce your CV? 

The Internet has changed everything. With one click of the mouse you can apply to hundreds of jobs, but so can everyone else.

While it is easier to apply, it is much more difficult to stand out.

And it is more difficult for companies to choose the right one, so the way they view and sift applications has also changed.

Because just as machines have helped with applications, they are also doing a lot of the selection. Programs that look at relevance, experience, character, stability and many other factors. Sifting began with simple pre-qualifying questions, but now some recruiters use sophisticated readers to scan application letters and CVs against specific criteria. Scary.

As we go increasingly mobile, recruitment decisions are now being made on mobile phones and iPads rather than paper. So you need to ensure your CV will stand up to scrutiny and out from the crowd when viewed in these new formats.

So, what can you do?

First of all, read the advertisement carefully. What is the company looking for? Look at your CV, especially the “profile” section. Savvy applicants now make sure this profile matches almost exactly what is requested in the advertisement.

This is not for the benefit of humans, who rarely read profiles, but for computers who never tire of them.

Whether you are submitting a CV or attending an interview, the initial impact you make will broadly determine the outcome of the process.

In fact it can be as little as five seconds during which a lot of decisions are made.

Take the humble CV, for instance. Tests have shown that a recruiter will make up a decision about a candidate’s CV in between 6 and 8 seconds.

Admittedly that decision may be a definite No, a definite Yes and lots of Maybes. They then spend a bit more time on the Maybes, but in eight seconds you might not get that far.

In interview situations, however objective the process, a similar instant reaction, apparently less than five seconds, is made by most of us. It dates back to much earlier times, when your very survival depended upon whether an individual was for you or against you. And we just can’t help using those instincts, whatever process we are asked to go through.

It is not the whole secret to preparing a CV or to attending an interview, but if you are entirely capable, and competent, and you can make a great first impression and you can interview well then you are on the road to success.

If you can’t, you have to work that little bit harder. Learn to make an instant impact and you will do better.

However unfair that is.