Updated: May 4, 2019
In today's competitive job market, it's more important than ever that your CV speaks directly to the hiring Manager.
Preparing your career management plan in advance of your job search, can sharpen your vision, clarify your goals and once you know what you want, you will find it much easier to write about yourself.
So, before you are tempted to find your old CV and dust it off to add your most recent positions and accomplishments to it, follow these 3 steps to optimise the success of your job search.
It may have been a while since you last updated your CV, especially if looking for a new job hasn’t been a priority until now. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, it’s likely that your CV will need a complete makeover as employer’s expectations have changed drastically over the last few years. With the world of work rapidly evolving due to advances in technology and automation, there’s more to getting hired now than just qualifications and previous experience.
A CV needs to represent who you are, what you stand for and what you want professionally. This calls for you to look inward and to ask yourself some questions. This can be a daunting prospect, so here are a few questions to help you get started. Keep writing until you have genuinely answered all of the questions.
What are you known for?
What do you stand for?
What kind of problems do you solve?
How have you demonstrated impact?
When have you performed at your best?
What is your greatest professional achievement?
What makes you different?
What are you good at?
What makes you happy?
The objective of this exercise is to gain clarity on the following;
The skills and strengths that define you
Your accomplishments (career, educational and extra-curricular)
What drives you (your values and purpose)
Preparing well will help you to eliminate the extraneous and enable you to speak simply to your target employer, letting them know how you can help them and what value you bring.
2.What makes an excellent CV?
A CV is a marketing brochure of you, with a primary purpose to whet the appetite of a prospective employer to motivate them to want to meet you. Candidates tend to think too much about what a CV needs to include that they forget its real purpose. Whilst the basic elements of a successful CV are important, focus on communicating your brand and the value you have to offer foremost above simply getting your CV formula right.
Your CV needs to answer the employer’s question of ‘why should I care?’. Simply listing job duties from your previous job doesn’t make you any better than other candidates. Your primary goal is to stand out, so you have to provide concrete examples of what you have done.
Be Concise and Relevant
A CV should be focused, which often means two pages in length. In some cases, a three-page CV is appropriate for more senior-level executives who have more content to add. Including experience from over 15 years ago is often outdated, so unless is it is relevant, it is not necessary to include.
Remember a CV is a summary document; therefore, it should not tell the reader everything about your career. This is a common mistake made my job seekers. CV’s that look like a manuscript can be incredibly off putting and there will be a high likelihood that it won’t receive much viewing time. The average time a reader will take to view your CV is between 6 to 10 seconds, so your CV design should immediately draw the reader’s eyes to the most important parts you wish them to see.
Optimise your Keywords
Many employers now require you to submit your CV through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The solution here is to create a second version of your CV that has been specifically optimised for these systems (including keywords that match the job description, no images, common fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, etc).
Perfect your Formatting
How you structure your CV to strategically draw the reader to major achievements first will be critical. Order your career history in reverse chronological order demonstrating your employment background (job titles, companies, dates, key areas of duties and achievements).
Also, begin with a solid representation of your most notable skills, qualifications, talents and career highlights.
Cliché’s can be heavily used by job seekers on CV’s. Avoid words like hard-working, enthusiastic, passionate and driven. Instead prove them by providing examples.
3. Target your CV for every role
Employers want to know that you are a good fit, not just with your skills and experience but also personality. Treat your CV as a working document and view it as a template that you will need to tweak for each company and role that you apply for.
In addition to adjusting keywords, you will also need to address any key points the company is looking for and potentially shift the order of importance of achievements and skills within your CV.
Most importantly, your CV should represent your experience in such a way that it supports your career goals. For example, if you are looking to remain in a customer service position your CV will ‘paint the picture’ of a well-qualified customer service executive, which is exactly who you are. Conversely, if your goal is to transition into a management role, your CV will describe how you may have trained and mentored others, taken on additional responsibilities, covered management in periods of absence, etc.
Creating a CV with the 'WOW' factor takes time and thought. It's not an easy process, so resist the temptation to rush. The investment you make to get your CV right at the beginning of your job search will increase your confidence, create the right mindset, give you pride in what you’ve achieved and will absolutely land you more interviews.