Live Q&A: Graduate CV clinic

Guardian Careers regulars will know that we’re not huge fans of job-seeking advice which is more bleeding-obvious than helpful. And of all the snippets out there, being told to “spell-check your CV” riles us most.

So, we’re the last people to pass on this over-used gem of careers advice. However, do please allow us a brief moment of mirth at what can happen as a result of failing to thoroughly check a finished CV, or relying too heavily on a computer’s spell-checker.

There’s the job applicant who boasted of their “excellent poof-reading skills“, while another CV blunder might have left a recruiter red-faced as they read about the “pubic relations officer”.

Plus, there’s the slapdash applications which are crying out for some actual proof-reading skills. A grammar error didn’t do this application any favours, “my interests include cooking dogs and interesting people”, while a missed word led to one job seeker sounding really rather unemployable: “I was responsible for dissatisfied customers”. However, my favourite so far is via Comment is Free writer Ariane Sherine, who, while sorting through a pile of CVs from copywriters, came across the subheading “Copwriter”.

Now, while there’s not much to be learned from this particular copywriter – apart from perhaps being a good example of when to consider a career change – there are far more successful CV writing techniques which be borrowed from the copywriting profession.

Our jobs goddess Clare Whitmell pointed out strategies copywriters use, such as starting with headings that pique a reader’s interest, can be a good approach that graduates can use to stand out from the crowd. Clare also suggested using the subject line of your e-mail as a selling point, with snappy introductions such as “English grad with sharp editing skills”.

So, if you’re keen to find out what else works, and you’re busy drafting killer applications post-graduation, join our panel of experts for live advice on Monday 20 June. Post advance questions below.

To keep up-to-date with our regular Q&A sessions, you can now sign-up for our newsletter here.

Our panel:

Elizabeth Bacchus is a career coach, change management consultant and founder of The Successful CV Company – a CV and covering letters provider.

Clare Whitmell is a qualified business communication trainer who specialises in writing and presentation skills coaching. She also blogs CV writing and job hunting tips on

Michael Buchan is content and solutions director for MyWorkSearch – a resource website for job seekers. Michael is responsible for all of the career development and webinars content on, covering all aspects of job hunting.

Beverley Grant is an International Coach Federation-accredited coach who specialises in helping people excel at work and find job security via her own company Realms Of Possibility, and as a senior associate for leading career management companies.

Rowena Simpson is business development manager for, a global online job board for the green energy sector. Rowena writes the careers advice blogs for this website and, a global online job board for the oil and gas industry.

Michael Monks is a careers adviser at Next Step, the free careers service available to every adult in England. Michael has more than eight years experience of supporting people with their CVs.

Paul Tomkies is the managing director of Massive CVs, a professional CV writing and career management company.

Dr Lynne Powell is a senior lecturer in Organisation and Human Resource Management at Newcastle Business School (NBS). Lynne joined NBS in 2003 following a career in human resource management and development within the public sector.

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