Q: Should I include a photo on my CV?
A: Generally speaking, I would recommend not to add a photo on your CV since it can distract from the actual content and is not relevant for a job application (unless it is for a modelling agency!)
Q: Shall I include A-levels on my CV?
A: I would only include A-levels if you are in the very early stages of your career and either studying for your Bachelor’s degree or have recently graduated. You could also choose to leave your A-levels grades for longer if they are good grades!
Q: A skills-based or chronological CV?
A: I would suggest a chronological CV since it is much clearer than a skills-based one and provides complete transparency of the lengths of time you have spent in a particular job or doing a degree/course. In my experience, employers usually tend to prefer chronological CVs
Q: What do I do if there is not enough information on the company in their job ad?
A: I would conduct thorough research of the industry and the company’s competitors to gain a fuller understanding of the relevant marketplace and what other similar companies in the field are doing. I would also search LinkedIn for the names of current/former employees who you could talk to for their opinions/suggestions.
Q: How long should a CV be?
A: I would say no longer than two pages but it all depends on the sector you are applying to. For instance, if you are applying for a junior position in the financial services or sales sectors, then one page is a must. If, on the contrary, you are a mid-career professional, I would advise for a two page CV since you are likely to have a number of years of experience that you would like to be reflected and one page may not be enough for you. The length of a CV is not exact science and it all depends on your years of experience, stage in your career and how many employers you have had.
Q: Shall I disclose the prolonged period of sickness on my CV/Cover letter or try to hide it somehow?
A: I would fully disclose it in your cover letter. Sickness is nothing to be ashamed of and you may find that many employers are very sympathetic. If you have undertaken any reading/courses during your sickness leave or anything to keep you up to date with the latest industry developments, it will be worth mentioning it in your cover letter as well
Q: How can I make my cover letter stand out?
A: The key thing is to use the language that demonstrates your energy, enthusiasm and interest in the advertised position. The cover letter should not be longer than one page and it should ideally consist of three to four concise and succinct paragraphs. In your cover letter, you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of your target company and what is distinctive about it. Try not to be too general and demonstrate how you fulfil the key parts of the job spec by reference to specific past experiences.
If you have any other questions/issues that you are not sure about, please post them here and I will endevour to address them.