There have been countless books written about how to find your next position and 1001 ways to write your CV.
The main issue with writing a CV is looking at yourself objectively. Our CVs often become a labour of love changing the odd word here and there adding in extra bits of interesting information. All too often we simply add information about our most recent position to a CV we have been using throughout our entire careers.
When did you last look at your CV objectively?
As senior managers we are very used to seeing CVs and making decisions about who to interview and who to employ. We think we know what we makes a good CV, this may be true for those we employ but how does your CV compare to other senior executives? At every stage of your career it is critical to ensure that you are tailoring your CV to pitch you at the right level. Your CV has the ability to put you in or take you out of a niche depending on how you present your career history.
Read through your CV, what message are you giving to the reader? Is it representing you as effectively as it could? Have you assumed that the reader has a high level of insight into your industry or organisation?
Too often we forget that people don't know as much as we do about our roles.
Ask yourself who is going to be the first person to read your CV. It could be a recruitment consultant or a HR assistant, is it as attractive to them as it is to the decision maker?
The clearer you can make your CV message the more likely you are to get through the CV sifts. In a tough economic climate we are painfully aware that competition is strong and that first impressions count.
You only get a few seconds to make a first impression- this has never been truer than with your CV. If your CV hasn't grabbed the reader's attention within the first 20 seconds the chances are they won't read on. Have you highlighted your USP's – the things that make you stand out. Every role is different, a job title does not tell the audience about the level of responsibility you held or your achievements or the impact your decisions had. Your audience can only make decisions based upon information you give them.
A powerful CV does not list the responsibilities you held in a particular position it shows the achievements you made. Figures are a great way to substantiate a key achievement. Check each of your bullet points – can it stand alone to show the reader how you improved an organisation? Remember what your audience is looking for, such as cost reduction, increasing profit, greater efficiency. Selling yourself on paper is very difficult, so ask others for help and an open and honest critique.
Your CV needs to be direct and present both a clear and concise message to your target audience. You have two pages to highlight and sell your salient achievements and win that all-important interview. Avoid the common clichs. Use the space you have to illustrate the positive impact you have made. Going back 10 or 15 years is far enough. The CV is a document that is going to help you achieve your career objective, not a life story. Is a potential employer going to care if you were head boy 25 years ago? Ensure that your CV is accurate. When talking about selling yourself we do not mean fabricating achievements. Details and facts can be checked and often are.
Once you have created your content, check spelling, grammar and spacing. These types of errors are one of the biggest CV "turn offs". If you claim to pay attention to detail but your CV is in two or three different fonts you are giving out the wrong impression.
Louise Lapish writes a blog on How to Survive Redundancy for the Yorkshire Post's website: yorkshirepost.co.uk
TOP CV TIPS
Think about your target audience and what return they will get from employing you over another candidate.
Your CV should not need re-writing every time you apply for a position, if it does then your achievements are not being effectively demonstrated.
Check the spelling and accuracy of your CV; remember the facts can be checked
Take time on your CV; it should take several hours to create a powerful document that pitches you effectively at the right career level.