Our Expert Digital Marketing Recruiter talks CVs & Prosecco with Brighton Digital Women…

Who are Brighton Digital Women?

Brighton Digital Women are a Sussex based not for profit organisation with a passion for sharing digital knowledge. This award-winning digital community holds meet-ups once a month in which aspirational women are encouraged to attend to expand & share their digital marketing knowledge.

Our Director Natasha Woodford got the opportunity to run the June workshop which was a great interactive success!

The evening, fittingly titled ‘Get Your CV Noticed, For Good Reasons!’ was organised by the Brighton Digital Women community to share best practice of CV writing and provide a better insight into hiring managers’ interpretations of CVs. The goal is to enable attendees to more easily write a quality CV for themselves which in turn will improve their chances in career progression.  It’s worth noting, having a better understanding of CV writing also helps with their own hiring practice. Being able to read between the lines and better question applicants.

With 20 years of professional recruitment behind her, Natasha is a digital marketing recruitment expert. Reading CVs is such a dominant part of Natasha’s daily job, it’s making her the Mark Zuckerberg of CV writing, knowing exactly what turns a good CV into a great CV when applying for a wide range of digital marketing jobs.

clockworkTalent & CVs

Time and time again, our inbox is greeted with the arrival of a mediocre (if not poorly written) CV which sometimes our intuition tells us could actually be quite good, so we follow up with a call which confirms what we thought – they’re actually really good but their CV didn’t show us this.

Having Skills, Tools OR Experience missing from your CV, or a CV that lacks personality can actually weaken your career prospects so remember to think of it as the first impression an employer will get of you, your “shop window”, so it should represent the best you that you can be!

This was discussed throughout the Brighton Digital Women evening along with so much more….

On the night…

We started the evening by live editing the CV of our Digital Marketing Exec, Emma, critiquing it with all of the elements we usually suggest candidates do to make their CV work better, we covered this in our blog of How To Write A Great CV. This step by step process allowed some great questions to be raised about why we do certain things with a CV.

The top 5 questions & answers from the session:

Q- Should I use the title ‘Employment History’, ‘Work Experience’ or ‘Professional Experience’?

We would suggest using the title ‘Professional Experience’ as it sounds a lot more positive than ‘Employment History’ which could be perceived negatively, as being in your past and uninteresting to you. Following that, the title ‘Work Experience’ could be interpreted as internships/work experience placements. ‘Professional Experience’ ensures the reader knows you are showcasing what you have learnt from and have experience in, from your career to date.

Q-Should I include my date of birth on my CV?

For a role in Digital Marketing, there is absolutely no reason for your date of birth to be or not to be on your CV. However, we are aware that many employers do require a CV as part of their candidate tracking process i.e. when registering an applicant, it requires a date of birth to register on a database. We say it is totally up to you whether you include it or not on your CV. If you’re trying to “hide” your age (we know some people are sensitive about milestones!) as decision maker is always able to work out an approximate age through the dates listed for your education.

Q-Headshot or no headshot?

Having your photo at the top of your CV is much like your date of birth, it should neither increase or decrease your chances of getting a job i.e. no discrimination. However, if you choose to include one, ensure the photo is of high quality and appropriate, a blurred headshot is a pointless headshot.  In Europe, it is common to have a CV with a photo at the top right of your CV but note for some UK industries it would be very unusual to include a photo. You need to be conscious of who you’re applying to.

Q-How do I make my interests sound… interesting?

This was one of the biggest challenges of the evening, ‘I don’t have any interesting hobbies to add’, this is a common comment which just simply isn’t true!

Start by thinking about what you do with your friends, what you are interested in, how you spend your free time. One attendee said she didn’t have anything interesting to write and once we dug deeper we found out she was a huge fan of Japanese literature! – What a great thing to add to your CV to stand out to an employer!  It makes you memorable. One of Natasha’s most memorable applicants collected dollhouses – an irrelevant hobby to her professional but even now, years later she is memorable as a result of a stand out interest.

If you really are struggling to think of something, try alternative wording, for example, instead of ‘Travelling’ write ‘I enjoy exploring cities all over the world’ this makes it a much nicer read!

Q-What should I do if I didn’t like an element of my current role and don’t want to do it in the next job?

Make sure you aren’t writing your previous experience listings like job descriptions, write about your achievements, what you did successfully and enjoyed. We all know what most the job functions are in most roles, so don’t need you to parrot your job description. If you don’t like an aspect of your current role, don’t highlight it on your CV i.e. if you don’t like managing people but you manage a team of 6. Don’t showcase this as your leading sentence for the job (perhaps even leave this detail out, if you really don’t want to do it). Remember your CV is showcasing your skills. This way, an employer will not know you have experience in the area and you (hopefully) won’t have to do something you hate in your new job!

After the discussion, there an opportunity for attendees to bring their CVs along for a ‘speed dating’ session with Natasha, it was great to see so many of them take advantage of her knowledge.

Because we were all from different industry sectors and levels of experience, we accidentally became a group CV clinic to help each other understand how to best represent each person’s job situation, whether they had a series of freelance roles or a long period of career progression in one company. From this, they received top tips, things to change, move and add to their CVs while sharing advice and gaining an insight into how someone might read their CV. We like to believe it gave some people confidence of their situation by hearing how others perceive them and their situations.

The final word from Natasha, ‘CVs definitely don’t have to be boring but they have to be real.’ We would like to thank Brighton Digital Women for a brilliant evening and hope we helped share some CV expertise!

If you were unable to attend, don’t panic! All of Natasha’s expert CV advice shared at the event is available on company blogs which offer insights into Job seeking as well as  Recruitment tips.