Spring Clean Your CV!
It’s a task we all put off, until of course, a job catches our eye! Then it’s time to dust off that CV, add a few more lines to ‘refresh it’ and we can, mistakenly, think we’re good to go!
But excellent CVs are a product of matching, focus and de-personalisation. Allow me to explain!
So what should I include? It must relate to the job description of this particular job. The employer/recruiter is potentially scanning hundreds of CVs. They will pause at yours, if it matches! This matching exercise is not easy and it’s time consuming, but if you don’t spend time on your application, the employer probably won’t either.
Matching can be particularly challenging if a) you’ve a varied and extensive range of experiences or b) you’re at the start of your career and therefore less work experience.
For category A, concentrate on the areas most relevant to the job. That doesn’t necessarily mean excluding other examples of impressive work. It may just mean reconsidering it through a different lens/perspective and therefore proving fit. For the work that isn’t relevant, include it but not to the same degree.
For category B, consider your current and past experiences to show how your skills, interests and knowledge match the requirements of the job. Include community activities, sporting achievements, and summer work/internship positions. If you have excellent communication skills, how have you proven these? Can you include any feedback from customers, write up in the newspaper? Think about the knowledge you’ve attained through school and college, include significant exam grades at school, college, or research projects.
I suggest you have a Master CV file. It can run to as many pages as you like. But every time you apply for a job, you should create a CV of 2 focused, tailored pages of evidence that demonstrate match between you and this job. Ask yourself: how many, where, when, what, why, who, how ……..did I accomplish these tasks. Look at example a and b, which is more impressive?
- Prepared reports for the team
- Prepared weekly staffing reports for the senior management team on areas such as staff turnover, absenteeism
When it comes to CVs, the devil is in the detail!
This is a real skill to master and the reason why so many people get help writing their CVs. When we review our career or our work story, other things get in the way. Relationship with managers, working hours, salary, and opportunities we did or didn’t get can all influence our perspective. However, you need distance in order to really assess your experiences and decide what to include in your CV. This may be the time to involve a family member, friend or trusted colleague. Go through the job description and talk about how you and your experiences match.
Another technique is to imagine you’re the employer looking at your CV. What stands out as strengths? Where are the gaps? Perhaps you should acknowledge the gaps in the CV and explain what you’re doing about them? This demonstrates motivation and self-awareness.
Finally, if you are going to hire someone to ‘write’ your CV. Make sure they take some time to discuss your full range of experiences and your entire career. This will ensure you get the flair of a professional CV but you’ll recognise yourself and be able to discuss the content at interview time!