A well written CV is important, no matter how senior you are
Yes poor old MD’s, Chief Executives and Senior Managers do have to write up their CVs from time to time just the same as all us mere mortals. They too can fall foul of Boards of Directors, plunging stock markets, business failures, mergers, acquisitions and all sorts of things which can bring about change. That change often means that the “Boss”, whether CEO, Director, MD or other must move on. It could also be as a result of being approached by an Executive Search company or ‘Head-hunter’ as they are often referred to and being made an offer. In either case a C.V. is required.
Senior level employers will look for decision makers, leaders, negotiators, door openers, financial ability, strong leadership, market understanding, vision, qualifications and of course, a demonstrable record of achievement with resultant profitability.
Obviously the bigger the hiring company the more the requirements demand experience and sophistication. The higher you go, as a rule the further you move away from the coalface. The skills set required become more strategic by nature. I could bet if you met the board of Directors of Hilton International or Marriott Hotels Worldwide, none of them could even boil an egg. Their skills lie in a different area completely; their expertise is in knowing how to run a big business and make money. They just run fantastically profitable chains of Hotels.
To prepare a senior level C.V., a completely different approach needs to be adopted in order to express and document the strength, experience and management expertise of the individual concerned. An error frequently made is that every time someone moves job they take out their old CVs and tack on the latest bit of information at the top. After a few years and a few moves the information on the C.V. goes completely out of proportion. The space and importance given to their very first job, e.g., when a junior accountant at entry level is the same as that given to the most recent appointment, maybe as a Financial Controller.
This is where the saying: “Less is more” comes into effect and I believe it to be true in this kind of situation.
I remember some time ago I had a client: a very Senior Manager from a well known and very large company. We had been pulling and dragging the C.V. back and forth and it just wasn’t giving the right message. And the message was that this person was one of the most experienced business manager/directors around. It was a good C.V. but just didn’t convey the depth of business skills, the grasp or the pure ‘gut feel’ for managing a profitable business that this person had.
Eventually, I took the C.V. deleted large parts off it and followed the ‘Less is More’ idea. With some thought I took a completely different approach in trying to document what this person had to offer. Instead of documenting their career path in the traditional manner I just listed the date, the company and job title for what I think was the last four past appointments.
I took the functional areas of responsibility gave them a title and followed that by a short list of descriptive words describing the areas of accountability under each title. The result was really good. It took a three page C.V. to one page and it still packed a good punch if not an even a better one. So the final result was one really good interesting page instead of three long pages of career history that was not of much importance.
The part that you would expect to contain the traditional Career History information was completely different.
To give an outline of this style and how this idea can be treated, my example is that of a Financial Controller applying for a CEO position in a Multinational company. It could just as easily be that of a Director of Sales or Marketing, IT, HR or other. The same formula would apply.
Financial: Treasury management – funding – working capital management – funding – share price – requirements of investment strategies – shareholders funds.
Profits: Continuous focus on profit improvement – challenges – savings – opportunities and reporting progress thereon.
Statutory: Companies Acts requirements and secretarial duties – external auditors.
Reporting: Investments – monthly/annual reports – forecasts to deadlines – profitability – working capital.
Investments: Evaluation and promotion of investment proposals – Identification – negotiation – integration of acquisitions.
Operations: Continuous development of internal controls – organisational management – budgetary controls – risk management – insurance.
People: Development of highly motivated professional team – succession planning – appointments.
Management: Management of sale of small company, production, contracting, customer service and quality.
This was followed by some key achievements with results that clearly demonstrated innovation, judgement and instinct for profitability.
The thinking behind this design is primarily that it was going to be read and examined very carefully by the CEO and probably other Directors. These people as a rule do not wish to have to read their way through pages and pages of information. Again this was an unusual layout and flies in the face of the traditional thinkers who always insist a C.V. should follow a fixed format. So clarity and simplicity was the key to its success in this case. Think of Winston Churchill when told his war cabinet that he wanted a complete up-date on the war on the Western front by lunch time. As he walked out the door he said over his shoulder “on half a page!” I believe he got it.
This would be just one of many different formats I have used in the past all to be innovative, a little bit different but always easily and quickly informative. There is no one size fit’s all when doing CVs; they need plenty of time and thought as to the right content and format as every individual’s story is different. Well done and as a rule they usually catch attention and impress.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little, try some unusual layouts and see how they look. They will stand out from the crowd and be noticed. However that same C.V. must also have the other key essential ingredients common to all, which mean it must be clear, concise, easy to read, be absolutely truthful and in a sequence that makes sense.
And I am happy to report my candidate, was successful and got the job.
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