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Do I really need to use a CV writing service? The pros and cons of hiring a professional in 2018…

Oct 1, 2018

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Looking for the perfect internship or graduate job is not easy and can take a lot of time, right?

If you’re a student who has never had to apply for a job before, it can feel daunting and you might not know where to start. It may seem like a good idea to take some of the pressure off yourself by using a professional CV writer.

However:

There are a few points to consider before you part with your hard-earned cash, so read on to find out if it is actually worth it before you shell out…

Will it save me time?

A CV writing service will undoubtedly save you some time in actually putting your CV down on paper. That’s what they are there for after all!

They are, however, likely to need a lot of information from you to enable them to write up an accurate CV which really sells your expertise and presents you in the best possible light. If they don’t, how will your CV be an accurate reflection of you?

What this means in practice:

Using a service is still going to require a significant investment of your own time. After all, if the brief they are given is not clear, the resulting CV won’t be all that great either.

Consider whether the time saved from not actually doing the writing, offset by time invested giving them the requisite information, is enough to warrant the fee involved before you go ahead.

Is a cover letter included?

Job applications are not just about CVs. Many companies still require applicants to send in a cover letter to accompany their CV.

This is a major task in itself, so if you have hired a professional because you are uncomfortable writing, it could be pretty important that the service includes a cover letter too.

If it does, there are some additional aspects to consider:

Is their writing style suitable? Does it match the tone of the CV, and does it read as though it has come from you? Do the CV and cover letter tell a consistent story and highlight similar key areas of expertise and experience?

A good CV writing service will get to know you and your experience beforehand so they can write a covering letter which really sells your core skillset and also fits your personal brand.

Does the CV translate to interview?

One of the potential pitfalls of using a CV writing service is that when it comes to the interview, you might struggle to remember what a CV you didn’t actually write says.

So:

This may mean that you don’t perform as well in the interview and can’t sell yourself properly.

On the other hand, writing a CV yourself can in itself be a great process to work through to prepare for an interview.

The thought involved means half your interview prep has already been done, as you will naturally find it easier to remember and elaborate on the information you prepared for the CV in the interview.

Should I tailor my CV (and cover letter)?

A good CV should always be tailored to the specific job you are applying for (this is even more important for cover letters).

If you do decide to go down the professional CV writer route, discuss whether tailoring it to different employers is included in the fee.

Alternatively, see if they are able to provide a general CV and cover letter template which will easily allow you to customise for each role and employer. Generic cover letters are a big no-no, so make sure you find out!

If you don’t, this could get pretty expensive (or you will just end up doing most of the writing yourself).

Is the CV writing service an expert in your sector?

It’s also a good idea to check whether your CV writing service is familiar with the sector you are applying to work in.

Look:

If a company is good at writing CVs but doesn’t know a particular industry, they are going to struggle to highlight your most relevant facets and experience.

They may even flag completely the wrong things, either leaving you less likely to get a job or with a big task to make lots of changes to your application.

This could make a world of difference to whether the resulting CV is well-received. Make sure you ask about their sector-specific experience and don’t just take their word for it either: request some examples so you know they really know their stuff!

Writing your own CV

Decided to have a go yourself? Don’t despair, you are not on your own. There are lots of useful templates available at Envato and CV builder, plus support on how to write the perfect CV is available from most university careers websites. You can also visit the National Careers service website for more guidance on CV writing and preparing for that all-important interview.

Bonus tip: it’s no longer just about your CV

With social media growing exponentially, your applications don’t begin and end with sprucing up your CV and writing a compelling covering letter.

Here’s the deal:

It is really important to pay attention to your online personal brand. According to Careerbuilder.com, around 70% of recruiters will Google candidates before deciding whether to hire them or not.

If there is any ‘digital dirt’ about you, you might want to clean up your act before applying for jobs. Scantily clad or drunken party pictures must go (or profiles set to private), ditto any swearing or lewd comments!

In addition to this, a great profile on LinkedIn which showcases any work or personal achievements mentioned in your CV will impress any prospective employer researching your online presence.

An objective viewpoint…

Many people find it incredibly difficult to write about themselves, particularly highlighting their most compelling professional experience, qualifications and skills.

It is very easy to get bogged down in platitudes and stock phrases that do nothing to sell you (e.g. “I’m a hard working team player” – so is everybody!)

It is true that a CV writer can help to give an objective view and create a professional-sounding paper version of you.

It is also true, however, that there is nothing stopping you doing a little reading on the best CVs, finding examples online, and using your university careers service to really hone your own CV-writing ability.

After all, who is better placed than you to discuss and emphasise your key areas of expertise?

Further, CV writing is a skill that you will need throughout your career and spending some time now to work on it will pay off in the long term.

If you struggle to see the wood for the trees when trying to sell yourself to an employer, a professional CV writer may be able to help, but make sure you do your research before you appoint one to be confident that they are actually worth the investment.

On the other hand, nobody knows you better than yourself, so why not save some money and give CV writing a go? You might surprise yourself.

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