There's a fine line between presenting the best possible interpretation of your work and academic history and doing a Jeffery Archer. Amaya Lopez offers some tips on how to stay on the right side of it.
1. Sell yourself. These two words strike the fear of God into most hearts (unless your chosen career is telesales). Carefully consider the tone.
You have to strike the right balance between sounding confident but not cocky. And, above all, you have to sell your skills. For example when you list your job titles, subtly add your achievements in those roles. If you can mention money-saving antics, so much the better - you've probably got the job already.
2. Qualifications count. Never do a Jeffery Archer and claim you were at Oxford University, when you were really at the Poly. Employers are wise to the differences between the old universities and the new. Likewise, on no account lie about having a degree - graduate qualifications can be checked at the metaphorical touch of a button. If you didn't get good grades, conveniently forget to include them.
3. Study your name. People can take irrational dislikes to names - they whip up prejudices in all and sundry for all sorts of unfathomable reasons. So take a good hard look at your name. If you are called Peregrine, shorten it to Perry. If you are called Tarquin, consider deed poll. Do not include ridiculous middle names - no one need know your parents' penchant for a particular footie team. If you have a hilarious-sounding foreign name, anglicise it. Okay, so that's not very politically correct but the interviewer may erase you from his/her shortlist for the sake of an easy life. Once you've got the job, you can call yourself what you want (what other people will call you is an entirely different matter of course).
4. Age matters. If you think you may be considered old, bury your date of birth at the end of your CV. If you think you may be considered ancient, lose it all together. You may be called in for interview just because the staff is running a sweepstake on your age. And if your looks belie your age, then knock a few years off if you can get away with it. In this yoof-led society, it's dog eat dog in the age stakes.
5. Check it like a maniac. Check the layout. Check the spelling. Check for typos. Check for repetition. Check for repetition (darn!). Check the dates and the years and the content.
Check it makes you cringe (a good sign). Are all those interests and hobbies really relevant? Do some suggest disturbing character traits? Delete, delete, delete… Finally, print your work of fiction. Hunt around for a decent-looking envelope (preferably an A4 hardbacked one so your CV won't get creased), pop it in with the covering letter… the covering letter?… aaaaarrrgggh!
Next week: Every good work of fiction should be accompanied by a synopsis, so learn with us how to write that simply stunning covering letter.