So There It Is

If my late grandma was good for nothing else, it was her sayings. Some are well known ones, others she blatantly made up herself. All have stuck with me though and I often catch myself saying them to my daughter.

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Writing a CV

I’m reproducing below some useful hints that I received once from a discussion board. Writing a CV is a bit of fine art really and many people have their own views on what works and what doesn’t. Never-the-less most of the following makes general sense and I’ve followed the principles for my own CV (well, most of them).

A CV fundamentally serves only one purpose and that is to get you to interview. It’s your version of your life and career to date and hence you are entitled to put the most positive spin on it that you wish, provided of course that you are truthful at all times.

Truthful however does not oblige you to volunteer information which may be detrimental to your presentation of yourself. Far too many people prepare CV’s that are far too long, boring and frankly irrelevant to the job they are seeking. Why for example do people feel the urge to volunteer their date of birth? Age is no longer a legal basis for selecting or not selecting a candidate. You may be too old or too young, but if you get to interview you stand a better chance. Equally, don’t mention your health issues. They are in the past. If you volunteer these, you may as well not waste a stamp. If you feel your health is adequate to take the job now – that is all that counts. We’ve all had illnesses, but if we listed them all, we wouldn’t sound like attractive candidates.

Don’t worry about former jobs that don’t seem relevant. Sell the aspects of the job and your personal characteristics, ‘experienced’ ‘loyal’ ‘self-motivated’ ‘work well unsupervised’. These are transferable skills, so make them count.

The objective is to get yourself into the top 5% of applicants and include nothing in your CV which will enable you to be de-selected at the outset and your effort binned. If you are lucky, an interviewer or recruiter will give your CV about 30 seconds attention before forming a view on your suitability or otherwise.

So, a few cardinal rules. Absolutely no more than two sides of A4. Many companies bin anything longer on a point of principle. Use high quality white ‘woven’ paper laser printed (or ink jet)and don’t fold it or use staples or paperclips. Don’t include a photo, even if you do look like Brad Pitt. They are considered passe now. Put your CV in a plastic wallet to increase its resistance to being thrown away and post it flat in a large envelope.

Leave plenty of white space, make it uncluttered, no fancy fonts and no rambling. Hold it at arms length to see if it is clear, visually uncluttered and ‘comfortable’ to look at. Can you see your name clearly. If not increase the point size. Embolden headings but don’t underline as well, its the difference between attracting attention and demanding it.

Start with your name at the top and contact details – nothing else. e.g. who are you are where can you be contacted. Leave a few lines of white space.

Next write a short profile on yourself, called a personal profile, just a few lines creating a paragraph which sells you powerfully. Use strong adjectives such as “accomplished” “professional” “successful” “international” etc. You are selling yourself just as though you were a salesman selling a product. There is absolutely no room for modesty in a CV. Truth yes, modesty NO. Forget traditional British reserve and go for it.

Next itemise in short bullet points some of your major successes. Keep it brief but make it punchy. Explain what you did, the result and the benefit in that order. This tells the professional recruiter why he should employ you.

e.g. I was appointed Project Manager for moving a factory of 200 people from A to B. I achieved this on time and 15% below budget, with the result that our efficiency was improved and productivity increased.

I made that up, but you can see the principle. You are telling the recruiter why you are going to be a valuable employee for them. Don’t say you haven’t had any successes because everyone has. It isn’t the magnitude that counts or even the event, but the way you present it.

Keep these successes to no more than five and if you can make them relevant to the job you wish to get, do so. If not, just relate achievements. Don’t say “we did” when you mean you. Say “I” because its you that’s after the job.

Then list your most recent jobs in reverse order and if you’ve made a good fist of the bullet points above, this can be a short narrative of your key responsibilities. Reduce the amount of information as you go back in time.

Next list your education. If you’re not proud of it, keep it brief, the school, college or institution, the subjects (omit grades, unless they were all A’s) and move swiftly on to interests. Make this another paragraph, but don’t put reading, walking, music etc. Write a short sentence to paint a picture of yourself, such as: “I enjoy reading and in particular 17th century historical novels” or whatever. It makes you a real person.

Avoid “socialising” as an interest. It is bland and sounds as though you spend all your time in the pub. You may do, but don’t tell them.

If you’re proud of your CV, that will be apparent to the reader. You are trying to get yourself on the “Yes” pile or at worst the “possibles”. Banish all negative thoughts from your mind and don’t put anything in it that sounds like an apology.

Read it through carefully and again and again. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes. Get your partner to check this, not for content but grammar, spelling and presentation.

You’ve already volunteerd that you’ve been asked for your CV because your work has impressed, so major on your unique creativity, clarity of presentation, original ideas etc. Get the drift?

Accompany your CV with a one A4 side letter applying formally for the job and drawing their attention to your matching benefits. So, again tell them that you want the job (very disarming tactic) and wish to point out the following attributes which you feel make you an ideal candidate for their job. Keep it brief.

Finally finish off by saying “I look forward to the opportunity of meeting you and to elaborate in greater detail on my suitability for this role”. Imply you expect to get an interview. Don’t finish lamely with “I hope you find this acceptable” – too passive.

Don’t forget, many hugely successful people in this world had very poor academic backgrounds, but their determination and effort overcame it.

If you think successful – you will be. And, don’t be afraid to ring up after you have submitted it. Ask them to confirm safe receipt and tell them that you are keen. Enthusiasm never lost anybody a job.

Reproduced with author’s permission

How Long?

Recently a roundabout near me was undergoing roadworks. For 15 weeks. Over a quarter of a year. Surely you could dig the whole thing up and re-build it in less time.

Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re all used to seeing miles of cones these days and sod all happening. Or workmen leaning on spades.

We’ve truly become a nation of charging lots of money for doing sod all.

So there I was driving Birmingham way (someone has to). Walsall has some roadworks on at the moment. Estimated to last TWO YEARS.

Just reeling from that one, I pass a slip road for the M6 which is closed. For 20 months. Again, nearly 2 years for a SLIP ROAD.

What in the name of all that is holy is going on here? What can anyone be possibly doing to a slip road that will take 20 months. Seriously. It’s been months since it was closed and, as yet, I’ve seen nothing happening.

And we wonder why our work is going abroad.

Star Wars Lego 2

Back again.

Yes, I’ve fiddled with the Blog. But it’s currently still working so I must play further.

Meantime I’ve been distracted by my copy of Lego Star Wars 2 for the PS2 dropping through my letterbox (or rather it did yesterday). Much playing later and I’m 10% through already. The game is ridiculously easy but mind-numbingly good.

Jesus Christ Superstar : Gethsemane

During today’s dress rehearsal, for rehearsing purposes, we recorded some of our performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. Here’s my favourite… Paul Mills performing Gethsemane.

Weekend Away 2002 Diary

This was my first weekend away with BOS. It was also Johns, the person I was sharing a car and room with for the next 4 days.

We were heading for the Mansergh Farmhouse Cottages in Borwick deep in the Lake District.

Friday

John turns up at my door at 9:15. We hump his stuff into my car and we set off at 9:30.
The autochanger was loaded up with our faves and we soon hit the A38 and then the A50. Thankfully, I’d turned on the traffic reporting because it was soon reported that there was an accident on the M6. So John, atlas in hand, diverted us further up the A50 and where we could join the M6 after the problems. It took us quite a while to divert around (mainly due to the limited speeds) but we were soon back on track watching the south-bound traffic at a standstill. We got to the rendezvous point – a pub called the Longlands Hotel, near to the cottages – at 12:15 (15 minutes after we were due to meet). Much to our surprise we were the first there. Soon after more turned up – all people who had taken alternative routes without knowing about the M6. We assumed the worst but it turned out that M6 hadn’t been that bad after all. The journey was 120 miles in total.

We order some “bar snacks”. I asked for a BLT baguette and got half a pig, a whole lettuce, a field of tomatoes all wrapped in enough loaf to feed the 5000. It was superb food though.
In the meantime John and I decided to make use of the pool table. One small problem, the cue ball and two of the other balls were missing. No problem – Luis shows us how to play 9 ball, using one of the remainder as a cue. The only issue being that everytime the cue ball was potted it wouldn’t be ejected back to us. So we had a limited supply of cue-balls !

After about an hour or so at the pub most had turned up. Stuart had collected the keys so in dribs-and-drabs we headed up to the cottages. It soon became apparent that our cottage was maybe not as suitable as the “party cottage” as we thought as, unlike most of the others, our living and dining areas were walled off and not open into one. Still, we stuck with the decision and soon had lights hanging from every wall, inside and out. Stuart supplied the hi-fi and everybody started to bring around buffet food.

It was quite late when the party finally got started and most people, nicely costumed, arrived. Those that I can remember :

Claire – Patsy (Ab-Fab)
Chris – Dr Kildare
Guy – Dr Kildars patient (this was apparently due to Guy not turning up with a costume !!)
Anita – Hilda Ogden
Pete – Bob the Builder
Lynn & Ruth – Charlie Dimmock
Stuart / Jacqui / Fi / Luis – The Flintstones
Moi and John Carley – Vic and Bob
Me again – Dom Jolly
Cheryl – Yvette (Ello Ello)
Jane – Po (Tellytubbies)

Once food and drink had been consumed myself and John put on a performance of Shooting Stars, posing amusing and appropriate questions to the gathered “guests” !

 
Then an initiation ceremony for the “weekend away virgins” (i.e. myself, John C and Chris). This consisted of each one of us in turn being blindfolded and brought into a room filled with everybody else and being asked a series of questions. Except it was always the same question – “remove something you wasn’t wearing in bed last night”. Chris went first and apparently totally stripped. I was next and got as far as trouser removal before I twigged – you remove the blindfold !! John was last and got it quite quickly. However, most suspect he was tipped off by Ruth. Once we’d rumbled their ruse we then had to read a pledge.
This was followed by prizes – I won best mail fancy dress and, I think, Jane was best female but I may be wrong there.

Quite a lot of people finished the party quite early and it was left to only a handful of us to keep going until 3am. Cheryl fell asleep on the settee.

Saturday

Urrrgghhhh. Hangovers. But the day was started well in our cottage by a hearty fried breakfast. It was about 11 o’clock though by this time. Jane, Mike, David and Anthea shot off quite early to do their own thing and Anita went off to Morecombe (to see the statue of the comedian who bares their name !). The rest of us headed off to Blackpool.

A route was arranged by Steve who promptly managed to get lost. The rest of us all met up at a pub, where Guy and Chris remained as they wanted to watch the rugby. The remainder of us headed into Blackpool proper with the intention of meeting up once there. I was in Claires car along with Stuart and we followed Luis, Fi and Jackie. The six of us went down to the, erm, sea. Cold, mucky brown and choppy is the most pleasant way I can think to describe it !

We met up with everybody else at an Oyster bar where Pete was enjoying himself with the various fish delicacies. Cheryl had already caused some customers to leave after asking Pete, who had just bought some oysters, whether you chew of swallow them ! Apparently, some reference to them looking like snot was also made and I think they lost even more custom ! A coffee later and we set off for the Pleasure Beach. It was the first weekend of opening so all the rides were £1. As the most expensive, usually, we headed for The Big One – when opened in 1994 if was the worlds tallest and fastest roller coaster at 235ft and 85mph. Not everybody wanted to go on and they went off to do their own thing. But a hardened band of us queued. It was a long queue but we guessed it would take about an hour. An hour later we got to the turnstiles only to find another, longer, queue on the other side. But, nope, we were determined – we were going to queue no matter how long it took ! Soon it began to rain. But after 2 hours of queueing we were nearly there – cold and wet – but nearly there. We were literally a dozen people away from the entrance when…. it broke down. So we then had to queue to leave.

Well, that finished most people off and they set back to the cottages. Myself, Luis, Stuart and Jacqui remained – hot dogs, chips and coffee were the first order of call followed by a few arcades. Then we had a brilliant idea – the log flume had just opened and surely we couldn’t get any more wet. Except, of course, the flume had been closed all winter whilst it rained. It was rather full. Less so by the time we’d finished the ride as most of the flume contents were then soaked into our clothes, hair, skin and anything else the least bit porous. We slopped around a few more arcades, hoping to dry off until giving up.

I was glad to get back to the cottage, dry off and change my clothes. Meanwhile, Ruth ordered Pizzas. Or “those bloody pizzas” as they’re probably now called. They tasted odd at the time and Ruth being violently ill that night kind of confirmed our fears that they weren’t of the highest quality.

That evenings entertainment was around at Claires cottage – various amusing games, etc. Highlights of the night included Luis “borrowing” a ladder as well as Fi being wound up something chronic by Stuart. Oh, and a great compo where we all had to eat a chocolate coated cherry. Except that some had chilli inside and not cherry. Poor old Claire was the first to be unlucky !

At 2am I headed back to my cottage to watch the Australian GP. John Maddison had set up his 37″ Scaletrix to keep us entertained during the ads. A shame really that John promptly fell asleep ! Managed to get to bed at 5am.

Sunday

Up at 9:30 as John was making bacon butties for us all. A quick shower, boots strapped on and we were ready for the traditional Sunday walk. Stuart had it all planned – a 5 mile walk that would end in us arriving at the Longlands Hotel for a traditional Sunday lunch. Unfortunately, Stuarts plans didn’t quite go to plan and after much walking back the way we had just come, we chopped out a chunk of the journey – although the whole thing still took us the planned couple of hours. We were kept entertained, though, by Fi wearing flat shoes and a highlight inappropriate creme coat (which she had to keep taking off so she didn’t get it mucky !).

The lunch was superb but many wussed out and got a lift back. I plodded back, via the canal, with Fi (after she’d fixed her make-up), Steve and Cheryl.

Again, that night we all went to Claires cottage for more quizzes and games. The evening ended with the most drunk version of Jenga I’ve ever experienced !

Oh, and, of course, the viewing of the Gummi Bear video !

Monday

Packed and out of the cottage by 10am. Most of us (all bar 6) met at a motorway Little Chef for breakfast before making our final departure.

Bizarrely we went straight back via the M6 and it took 140 miles. But both John and I were home early afternoon. I think I finally got unpacked sometime the next week !

Two go to Magalluf

pic1lgeThis is all about my holiday with my sister, Julie, (commencing the 23rd of September) to Majorca.

Friday

Kicked off the day quite early by leaving mid-morning to drive to South Leverton from Derby (about 60 miles away). This is near to where I grew up and where my favourite hair-dresser is ! Got my locks cut at about mid-day and headed off to my mums (about another 20 miles) near Lincoln. Yacked for most of the afternoon before leaving with my sister just after 6pm.

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