It’s interesting, I was speaking to an agent this morning about a role, and they said the fatal: “your CV looks really good. Can you rewrite it?” (Spot the contradiction!) And I’m just left thinking “noooooo”.
This is a CV that led to working with a number of London banks. Plus, I’ve invested quite a bit of money into it, having it rewritten a few years ago by a professional CV writer. I’m supposed to forget that in favour of a comment from somebody I just met.
In particular I’m very careful to try and keep it to two pages, not on a whim, but because that’s roughly somebody’s attention span. Sad but true. The CV writer’s advice was also to “keep it to the last five years” – in fact I go back over 15 years, just because the roles (I think) were so prestigious, people are impressed when they see who the clients have been. Of course, I have to be incredibly brief in what I say about each role (fortunately one of them lasted 10 years, but within that role, I obviously accomplished a lot) because space is at such a premium.
Bearing in mind that I’ve been dealing with agents for many years, this is something I get from time-to-time. I mean, if you hear it every time you sent your CV off somewhere, then, fair enough, there’s probably something wrong with the CV, but if every agent asks you to rewrite the CV to highlight such-and-such, where such-and-such is different each time, and also a feature of this particular role… What the agent wants is something which is bespoke for every role you apply for, so it kinda negates the advantage of maintaining a CV in the first place. And as we get older, a CV inevitably throws up choices of what to say and what to leave out, so when an agent wants us to rewrite our CV, it is basically somebody telling us that we have poor judgement. I’m sure many people are very successful in what they do, and can demonstrate many years of sound judgement.
The role itself is for a government agency. I happened to mention that I had once worked for the government. “I didn’t see that on your CV”. No, because it was 1989-94. 25 years ago. Let’s be practical here. How detailed do you want a CV to be? I wouldn’t mind but if someone was interested in what I was doing 25 years ago, I keep a fully detailed employment history online, on one of the jobs boards, which goes back right to the start, and quote that link in the CV.
The icing on the cake was that, because I don’t have the exact skills that they’re looking for, they said up-front that they’d only pay the minimum rate on offer, until I’d successfully “retrained”. Forget that I’ve got oodles of experience doing something very similar, and would most probably be able to add value on Day #1 – that’s not worth anything to them. It was interesting too that they said this up front – if I’d have been hiring, that might well have been reflected in any offer made to a successful candidate, but I wouldn’t have said anything directly to them, certainly ot at this stage. I mean, I’m quite lucky in that I’m not particularly looking for big bucks nowadays, but the conversation left me feeling unconvinced that the client acknowledged that I had any relevant experience at all. I can accept that there might be some financial penalty for not being exactly what the clients are looking for, but I can’t help but feel that something would be going to waste if the previous 25 years were regarded as worthless. If I wanted my previous experience to be irrelevant, there are jobs that come up every day in Salisbury which would be a far easier commute.
It makes me smile a bit because, just as I am constraining my search to the Salisbury area, they too are governed by geography. I know from experience that there are not many IT roles around here, I therefore assume that the converse is true – there aren’t a lot of people locally looking for IT work. Especially when the role is essentially civil service and therefore poorly paid (the salary on offer happens to be what I was earning in 1995, the exact same number, not even including inflation, so the role wouldn’t have been attractive to me unless I were constrained as I am). So just as I’m trying to be flexible in looking at jobs that are not quite 100% matches, I think they’re going to have to be flexible too, whether looking at me or the next person, or run the risk of not finding anybody.
Overall, I think, a pity because I am at a stage in life where working in the client’s area would be more attractive than earning lots of money. I should be exactly the kind of person they’re looking for.