Most CVs are dull, dull, DULL.
In most cases, a CV is basically the rehashed job descriptions of every job you ever held and at no point do they convey anything about the human-being they are supposed to be selling – YOU!
With unemployment in the UK being extremely low at the moment, recruiters are complaining that it’s hard to hire the right people. This is GREAT NEWS for you if you’re looking to make a career-change now or in 2018. And, believe it or not, it’s not that complicated to write a compelling CV that your dream employer will actually want to read.
Your dream employer is human too!
Firstly, remember that your dream employer is a human too. They have tight schedules and deadlines to meet, clients to satisfy and probably a busy home life too! They do NOT have the time or the energy to wade through 3 pages of your potted life-story. They want to be able to identify you as their dream employee in the first couple of lines of your CV.
Whether your CV is being sent via snail mail or online, the ‘above the fold’ concept is crucial to your success. Take the top quarter of the page and see this as your prime sales area. Is the most important and compelling piece of information your address? No? – Why is it top and centre then? It probably needs to be on the document (not always) but not right there.
It is the right place for your name – the one you like to be addressed by, not the one that reminds you of being told off by your Mum when you were 6 years old! You can also add a headline here, if you wish. One of my favourite client headlines was:
Putting the fun into finance!
Most of us don’t think of finance as being fun, do we? This candidate loved it and this was her unique selling point.
Next on your CV comes your Personal Profile. This should be no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs and it should be written in the 1st person. Having said that, please avoid starting every sentence with “I…” Write as if you were talking directly to your dream employer and letting her know what you can do for her.
Career Summary and Qualifications
Next up is usually your Career Summary and the last 5 years is often plenty unless you have particularly relevant experience from before then that you’d like to include. If you have recently graduated or qualified you may prefer to put your Qualifications ahead of your Career Summary. Ask yourself this question to help you decide which way is best for your CV: Which is the most impressive/relevant to my dream employer? That section goes first!
Now then, at the beginning, I mentioned that we don’t want to just rehash the job descriptions of each job. That’s what makes most CVs so dull!
OK, so what I suggest instead is this. Write a couple of lines for each of your previous jobs about what you loved there and/or what you achieved. Make this as relevant to the job for which you are applying as possible. Demonstrate the skills and strengths that you want to highlight. Only write about something on your CV that you’ll be happy to discuss in more depth at interview.
Things to get rid of!
Finally, you can do away with all that personal information that you included on your CV in the 80s! It is not necessary to state your age, your marital status or your inside leg measurement. In fact it just looks very dated. You can also lose: “References Available On Request.” It’s just stating the obvious!
Ideally, keep your CV to one page. Any longer and you run the risk of either it not being read (in which case, what’s the point?) or worse, your dream employer may make a decision without meeting you and it’s not going to be a positive one! Your CV is an advert for you; its only purpose is to secure you an interview. So be concise, show some personality and leave your reader wanting to know more.
Three things you can add to your CV.
- Your LinkedIn URL (customised, of course) so that when your dream employer looks you up on here they find the right you!
- You can also refer to your outside interests, IF you can show some relevance. A client of mine talked about his stamina as a Salesperson and demonstrated this strength by sharing that he spent his spare time running competitively and wild water swimming. A local employer shared with me that he always skips to the interests section on an application first to see if the candidate supports Gloucester Rugby. The company has a corporate box at Kingsholm and rugby is a big part of their networking scene.
- A Covering Letter. Always send a covering letter that explains why you are applying for this position and how you can solve the challenges that you perceive are being faced by the company right now. Keep it short and to the point.
The best piece of advice I can give you regarding your CV is this: Do NOT write a generic CV and send it out to all and sundry. That approach is a waste of everyone’s time.
DO clarify which employers are your dream employers and tailor your CV to them and the role that you will excel in.
For help clarifying your dream job, please book your free Career Clarity Session now. I’d love to help you find your dream job. Please feel free to comment below if you have observations or questions and share this article with your friends and colleagues.
Wishing you every success!