With a new year about to start, it’s time to review your CV
It’s nearly Christmas and time to take a break after a long stressful year and enjoy yourself. Now having said that there will be some who have not succeeded, career-wise like they would have hoped for. Others who are urgently job searching may dread the thought of starting all over again in January.
Whether you wish to progress within your present employment or are searching for a new opportunity, the one question that gets asked more than any other topic is the CV. The typical questions are;
- I don’t have a CV, where do I start?
- I can’t think of anything to write?
- I don’t have anything of interest to say?
And the short answer is yes you do; you just haven’t given it enough thought.
So as we are heading for a few days off for Christmas, time is on your side for considering how you will present your key information on your CV
Frequently people will download lists of suggested or possible statements that would refer to work experience that would be typical for an accountant, an engineer, a supervisor or other. These are fine but I strongly suggest when you see something that suits your background, don’t copy and paste. Just use the idea but re-write it in your own style and persona. If you run into difficulties, get advice.
So now back to the question of developing strong statements relevant to your past career.
Again and again I tell clients when starting to write your CV get their mindset right. Don’t say to yourself “I am going to write my C.V”. Think, I’m going to write my “brochure”. Don’t ever forget that your CV is a selling document. It must sell your skills and experience to a potential employer and sell them fast.
Sometimes to explain what you shouldn’t write is better than explaining what you should write. So with a week or more of doing not a lot and plenty of time to get this document right, I suggest you Google “Holidays in Barbados” and see what pops up. There will be super hotels all making offers. Click on any one and you will see pictures of a lovely restaurant (or two) with buffets all laid out. Lobsters, seafood of all kinds, along with picture of a lovely bedroom with a balcony looking out at a long white sandy beach.
So why am I talking about hotel pictures. Simply because it’s a brochure and you will note that they do not show pictures or describe the swill bins, the pot wash or the linen cupboards. Why? Because nobody’s interested. They only want to think about the beach and the fine food.
Now apply that very same logic to your CV A potential employer will not have any tolerance for wasted space or irrelevant information. Keep your information strictly relevant with no waffle or useless information. Also ensure no waste space. If you have space to spare put something in it that may be in interest.
Do not write – “I answer the phone and do the filing”. – Just to fill a space
Frequently I see CV’s that start with;
Name: Pat Jones
Address: 1 The Road
So, why not write:
1 The Road, The Town, The County
Telephone: 01-1234567. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no need to write Curriculum Vitae at the top of the page. It’s obvious at a glance what it is. Name and address on two lines. The total space used is three lines only and not seven as in the first example.
This is only a very simple example of how you can reduce and eliminate useless space. By applying this thinking to your CV you may be able to reduce every paragraph written by half a line. That will probably amount to about a quarter of a page. That quarter saved can be used for even more concise information about your achievements.
And now search for interesting or relevant statements of your past experience. This can be hard to do but if you carry out a simple exercise that I suggest you might surprise yourself with the interesting career history that you can bring together.
It is my belief that CV’s nearly always get written in a hurry and so are not as professional as they should be and more often than not, miss out lots and lots of key information from the past.
Take a page; draw a line down the middle making two halves. On the top of the left half write I DID. On top of the right half write THE SKILL.
I stress this are only a trawling exercise for key information from your career, especially the bits and pieces you haven’t given much thought to. At first glance you may think this is a bit silly, but believe me almost everyone agrees that it produces surprising results given the time.
On your own, privately with no prompting from anyone and without reference to your existing CV, sit back and let your mind drift back to your first job and then slowly think through the years, the jobs you had, tasks you were involved in and anything that was in any way special or successful, write it down on the left side of the page: I did this – I did that etc.
All you need is a reminder not a whole paragraph. Soon you will find and recall all sorts of experiences, achievement, skills and attributes from past employment that you never give any thought to but could be very relevant and work related. This is just a trawling exercise and later you can think these events through and extract the interesting parts for further comment. For now they are just reminders.
When the first column is complete go to the right side of the page and starting at the top, opposite your first ‘I DID’ add in the skill you possess that made the achievement work for you.
Your example could read:
I DID: I secured the big order when the Boss was away
THE SKILL: Communication/negotiation abilities
You may soon notice that some of the same skills appears several times which will be proof-positive it is a true skill of yours. You should now have a list of achievements on the left side and a list of personal skills on the right. With this page done, you will now have some good material to work on with several personal skills identified which is quite a hard thing to do. These skills will stand for you in both your CV and later on at interviews. You will probably find that the same four, five or six skills keep repeating which is proof-positive that they are true skills of yours and should be documented.
When doing a page in this fashion you will soon recall lots of experiences from the past, which you can then develop later and if at all possible put a measurable figure on the statement. Don’t just say you increased sales. Say you increased sales by 25%. Or better still by 25% in six months. You might just surprise yourself with all kind of detail you had forgotten about.
In short the main topics on your CV could include:
Name and address and contact numbers
Having made theses suggestions I always add that there is no set rule for a CV layout. What looks good, reads well and makes sense in it’s layout, is fine.
Take your time, lots of time and get it right. When your CV is done put it away for a day or so and then review it as thought you were an employer. If you’re impressed, good. If not – you’re back to the drawing board. This is one item Santa will not bring for you so give it plenty of time; you will thank yourself later.
Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and at: www.iobdoctor.ie
Good Luck and a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
Top Tips are provided by PCC, who provides professionally delivered, supportive and most importantly, successful career change and redeployment assistance to private clients from all sectors of Industry. While based in Ireland our on-line service extends to those overseas throughout the world. Inquiries are welcome and treated in the strictest confidence. Tel: +353-86-3017207 & +353-1-2819056.