Ch. 8: Honest spin: handling problem areas

In this chapter you will:

• understand the difference between honest spin and lying

• construct a positive story or explanation for something

• Deal with trouble spots using spin

Just as Max Clifford does for his clients through clever PR, being careful with your words can help transform a lacklustre CV into something everyone wants to read. The trick is to find a way to make people focus on what you want them to focus on. Generally speaking, it’s best not to bring up a problem area if it can be avoided: you are perfectly entitled to be picky about what you include in your CV. Some things will need explanation though, or your reader could end up making assumptions that are much worse than reality. For this, you can use honest spin. Honest spin doesn’t lie about an issue; instead it acknowledges it but focuses on the positive. So, what kind of problems can be tackled using honest spin?

Gaps in employment

Employment gaps can happen to anyone, and can be caused by a number of things:

  • voluntary or involuntary redundancy
  • sabbatical
  • long-term illness
  • being fired
  • career break to raise a family or care for a relative
  • retraining
  • being a school leaver or university graduate
  • a prison sentence
  • travel
  • Resigning after making a poor career move.

Any of the above can see you out of work for some time. While many do not actually reflect on your ability to do a job, most employers still see being out of work as negative.

Mind the gap

Shorter gaps of a few weeks or months can sometimes be smoothed over by mentioning only the years (not the years and months) that you worked for an employer. It’s an effective way to avoid focusing on any gaps, but because of this some recruiters may automatically view with suspicion any CV that gives only the years of employment.

Longer gaps, or gaps that happen to span two calendar years, tend to look more obvious and it's rather awkward to handle them this way. Depending on the reason for the gap, it is often better to include a brief explanation rather than leave the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. Chances are you can explain the reasons better and more positively than their imagination will. Volunteering a brief explanation for an employment gap can make you seem a more attractive prospect as it shows you are honest, which sensible employers value highly.

Another way to distract recruiters from a gap is to change the format of your CV so that your skills examples are given before your employment history and dates. This is called a functional CV and will be covered in more detail in Part four.

Targeting it carefully.
In the following examples, only the job dates, titles and companies are listed for simplicity...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

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