How to create impact with your CV
Your CV is a sales document. Its purpose is to spark enough interest in you that the reader calls you for an interview. Your CV needs to stand out – you’re competing with other applicants and the pressures the reader has on his/her time.
If you’re lucky, a 15 second scan is the most your CV will command (if it’s not read by computer…), and the majority of these precious seconds will be spent on the first page.
Start with adding your contact details: list your mobile number, email address, LinkedIn profile and your home location.
Consider layout – make it smart and easy to read. We advise a line under your name including the information above. Saves space and looks professional.
Generate a Personal Statement/Career Profile. This takes thought.
Think about who you are, what you offer and what you are looking for. Don’t fall into the trap of being very ‘high level’ with lots of descriptive words but no substance.
Tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. Don’t think the reader will be searching for hints as to why you applied.
Qualifications – where to put them?
Our rule of thumb – if your qualifications are directly relevant to the role or field you are in, make sure they are visible. You can also include them in your personal statement/profile e.g. CIPS qualified Procurement Manager with 15+ years experience in the FMCG industry….
A relevant degree or advanced qualifications can also be included e.g. Degree qualified Senior Technical Manager with in excess of 10 years’ experience working with the UK retailers including M&S, Tesco and Asda.
Include other relevant qualifications if they add value and list courses attended/other qualifications towards the end of the CV. Don’t list every piece of training you’ve ever attended, it’s not necessary.
And if you’re not qualified in your field, state what you DO HAVE…e.g. 8 years’ experience turning underperforming brands into market leaders within 18 months. Responsible for successful new product launches gaining 15% market share in 12 weeks.
Experience. Important part of a CV. And it’s EASY to waffle.
Please don’t. We strongly advocate a brief description of the business you work for/worked for – what they do/did, key customers and products.
Let your CV tell the full story, and allow the recruiter to visualize the context of where you work. It’s likely the reader won’t have time to Google your employers and if your CV is read by a recruiter or HR Manager new to the sector, they won’t yet have detailed knowledge.
And if you are the Hiring Manager and there’s little or no description, some candidates ‘hide’ these nuggets of information in the description of the role. Look for key words and phrases to gather the information you need to decide to meet.
Brevity prevails when we get to experience. List 3-4 key responsibilities and 3-4 key achievements for each role. Avoid a ‘copy and paste’ of your job description, it’s not IMPACTFUL, we want to know HOW GOOD you were at your job.
Previous/Early career – how to position this on a CV? Many people struggle with this, and simply add, and add and ADD to their CV.
Candidates worry that leaving something out may jeopardise their chances of an interview.
I get it. It’s part of what made you what you are today but listing responsibilities from your first job in 2000 (or before) isn’t going to add value. It will DETRACT.
‘Squeeze’ down the CV. Listing early roles with employer and job title will still show progression but without dragging the CV onto page 3.
And here’s the elephant in the room. Age.
Candidates who are later in their career worry about this a great deal. CVs no longer include DOB (and recruiters remove them anyway) but it’s not necessary to list dates for all of your early career roles. Simply pop ‘Early career includes’ and list. And move on.
Having spent the week talking about what to include on your CV we thought we’d include some things to leave out.
Date of birth – please. It’s not required and we remove it anyway if we represent you. But if your CV is on a job board with DOB, address and a few other details, identity theft is very easy for those who know how. So please protect yourself.
Marital status, number of children, where you were born (yes really) aren’t things an employer needs to know.
Reasons for leaving. Yes, we see them and they’re never good. Don’t apologise if you were made redundant. It’s life. Explain briefly at interview and focus on the reasons you want to join a business.
Playing golf ‘badly’. This is our number 1 hate. We are yet to be convinced it’s funny. Think about your personal interests if you decide to include them. What do they say about YOU?
Have you raised money for charity, are you a member of a club or society? Do you train regularly? Much, much better than stating you’re not good at something or making a joke.
References. Bit of a GDPR nightmare and not required. Once you’re offered a job, send discretely with permission to your future employer.
And please, please ask someone to proofread.
We've just opened a CV of a chef. He’s in charge a full kitchen BRIDGE would you believe?
A CV critique is just part of the service we offer to our candidates. If you need support with your CV and you work in the sectors we cover, then please get in touchfor more information - we're just a phone call away.