It’s the time of year when the days are getting shorter, the air has a chill to it, and the leaves are beginning to change colour. You might be ready for a bit of change too, perhaps in your career?
If you’re starting to think about looking for a new job, or getting back into work, you’ll be needing to look at your CV. Chances are it’s been a while since you last updated it and it can seem like a daunting task to update your CV in preparation for your job search.
We asked recruitment expert, Philippa Corr, to write us a guest article about the importance of your CV and her top tips for creating one that will catch the attention of any employer.
Philippa is the founder of Sustainable Prospects, an executive recruitment and career coaching company focused on sustainability. With over 25 years’ experience in executive recruitment, Philippa supports organisations to grow through effective talent attraction. She also guides individuals who want to develop a sustainability-focused career.
Your CV Matters!
Working in executive recruitment for the past 20 years, I’ve been involved in assessing tens of thousands of CV’s and job applications for roles ranging from the most senior, through to entry level. I’ve seen strong CV’s from graduates applying for their first job and poor quality CV’s from very experienced candidates. I’m sometimes surprised by applicants who assume that their experience “speaks for itself” to the extent that they neglect to put forward a strong CV.
The following are a few insights into how recruiters work and why, in my view, a good CV is your best ally.
Of course, experience counts! It’s worth remembering however, that your CV will be assessed against others with similar experience and track record. And as anyone currently job searching knows, competition can be intense – an executive search exercise can reach over 100 candidates and online job posts can attract over 200 applicants. But don’t let these numbers put you off. It’s always worth applying for a role that interests you. However, if you find you are not getting selected for interview where you are clearly a good fit, it’s likely that your CV needs some attention.
How to define a good CV?
In our view, a good CV is one that sells you effectively for the role you are seeking. Your CV is more than a record of your career journey and achievements, it’s primarily a sales document, the best opportunity to showcase your suitability for the role. During the initial assessment process, recruiters typically spend just a few minutes reading each CV to select those most suitable for interview – your CV must engage the recruiter’s attention on first viewing.
Later down the line, each selected CV will be re-read in depth to establish what you have not said as well as what is contained. Recruiters look for synergies with the role and the employer in terms of experience, soft skills, transferable skills, expertise, development potential, value add and several other criteria. Sadly, if your CV does not make it through the initial sifting process, then your opportunity to be called for interview and offered the job is obviously lost.
A Few CV Do’s and Don’ts
While most of the following are fairly straightforward observations, we feel that strengthening your CV along these lines will increase your likelihood of success…
– Adjust and if necessary, rewrite your CV for each job application.
– Address how you meet each of the requirements in the job specification.
– Outline how your qualities and credentials balance any experience you lack.
– Detail what you have brought to the role over and above your duties/job description.
– Present your CV well with a good layout, and don’t forget to spell check!
– Apply early – as soon as possible after you spot a suitable job advert.
– Be modest – sell yourself!
– Leave the recruiter to “connect the dots”, explain clearly when and how you acquired the experience sought.
– Miss out any relevant experience in anticipation of discussing it at interview.
– Use too many acronyms, jargon or company specific terms without explanation.
– Go beyond 2 pages for your CV, 3 pages at most.
The time and effort you devote time to strengthening your CV, remembering to tailor it specifically for each job application, will undoubtedly be a wise investment for your further career.