A CV is an invaluable tool in the youth work recruiting world. As a rule of thumb I always include one in any application process whether it asks for it of not. A CV is not a substitute application (employers please remember that!) but a snapshot; a top-sheet to make one as accessible as possible.
So many CV’s look like they’re been written by Dan Brown on speed: Badly spelled, clogged up Illuminati codes needing army cryptography experience to decipher. They are prose heavy, full of inconsequential snippets, and so badly laid (/flayed?) out you need a protractor and compass to start reading them.
However, with a little bit of effort you can have yourself a decent, humble, clear and sensible window into who you are and what can offer.
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
I used to go down the whole ‘personal statement’ line with long paragraphs on who I am, what I’ve accomplished, what my key responsibilities have been and what I believe. Now however I keep it really simple, punchy and factual. Anything that takes a paragraph to say can be said far better in an interview setting, and if the reader isn’t interested by the bullet point they certainly won’t be by the whole paragraph anyway.
A CV is there to wet the appetite and draw you to interview. It should have enough factual info to show you’re qualified but not so much that you can’t conversationally develop and apply the points at interview.
If you feel that you must expand on everything you’ve ever done then consider writing a youth work portfolio to include alongside a CV.
There are two things to consider when writing a youthwork CV – style and substance.
Style Baby, Style!
Style is very important (no matter what the haters say!) because it makes your CV stand out and memorable. Far more importantly though a carefully styled CV should be easy to scan-read through all of the most important info.
“You want the reader to take you seriously.”
White space, headings, colours, dates and form are all really important to consider! This gives you plenty of room to show off your creative side. At the same time it should still look clear, well organised and professional – you want the reader to take you seriously.
Make sure all the key areas like qualifications, experience, skills and contact details are ridiculously easy to find and uniform with each other. Don’t over use colour and keep to the same pallet. Same with fonts. I tend to use two-three colours and one font that’s very adaptable. No times or comic sans please!
Remember finally that your CV really should fit on one page.
Concentrate On Content!
Substance should include all the most relevant details about you – not every little thing you’ve ever done. The most important areas are qualifications & training, work & voluntary experience, other key skills and contact details. They should be dated recent first and shouldn’t leave any holes.
“Experience tells the story of skills”
Remember that your experience tells the story of skills, so be careful that you don’t repeat yourself. Include anything that has had a significant impact on your development as a youth-worker – paid or voluntary (but make sure you say which is which).
Accessible contact details are also very important – don’t leave people with only one option to contact you. In a 21st Century youthwork world consider fb, twitter and skype details – but don’t clog it up! My CV used to include a QR code… possibly overkill!