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Published January 26th 2013
As economics and job opportunities have changed, the book market has been flooded with new self-help manuals for finding jobs, writing resumes/CVs, and perfecting interview techniques. The Perfect CV: How to Get the Job You Really Want by Tom and Ellen Jackson has been a trusted resource for over a decade and has gained praise from career centres, student services, and job-seekers alike. This review considers whether the principles in the book are still applicable to the current job market.
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The authors make a rather enticing claim about creating a successful application and there are many commendable features in the book. It is organised to fit the needs of those who are looking for a step-by-step guide for personal analysis, as well as those who just need to examine some sample cover letters and CVs. More specifically, the most positive aspects of the book are the questionnaires and worksheets.
The book is very interactive with questions directed toward discovering interests, capabilities, accomplishments, and personal motivations. By answering these focused questions the reader is able to analyze their past successes, failures, and future goals. The end of each section of questions always focuses on the next action, thereby encouraging the reader to formulate a practical plan in their job search. These questions are effective both in providing personal insight about past positions and in constructing descriptions of those positions for a CV. The book also includes one hundred sample CVs organised under different categories of employment. This feature is an asset for readers seeking to compare their CV with some examples, without the need to interact with the rest of the text.
There are two primary concerns about the book - namely, the audience and the publication date. The introduction states that the author's methods have proved to be successful in the United States and Canada and, clearly, the authors composed the book with those audiences in mind. The CV samples in the book are also American. However, the approach to CV writing and interviewing are quite different in the UK and North America. Even though the book has been reissued for a UK audience, the overall tone still features those qualities that are most common for North American job searches, such as the continual emphasis that a CV must be restricted to one page.
The book was first published in 1980 and then reissued in 1997. Obviously, the job market and demands of today are vastly different from that of the late 1990's. Taking that into account, there are not any glaringly obsolete portions of the text and the book contains principles of CV writing and job searching that do withstand time and changes in the job market. The book does a thorough job of expounding upon such relevant points as the use of key phrases, producing targeted cover letters, using active verbs, and the necessity of effective networking, all of which are applicable to current needs.
Overall, the questions and worksheets are useful for critically evaluating one's past performance and personal goals. The book is highly practical and can be recommended for its general advice; however, the CV samples do require adjustments for those seeking employment in the UK.