Looking for a new job? Then a great CV is vital. And if you need to complete an application form, or update your LinkedIn profile, having a well-designed CV to build from will give you a speedy and stress-free place to begin.
Here are the big three overarching questions to ask yourself before you get started:
- Have you thought through what it is that you enjoy doing and what it is you’re good at doing? The purpose of your CV is to help you build a working life around what you have a natural talent for, together with what you enjoy; to shape your work to fit you. The goal is to land a job - to get paid - to be you.
- Have you defined that into a specific job role? This can be either the job role you’re applying for, or an ideal role you’d like to aim towards. It’s easier to write a CV if you start with a clear target for it. It also means you won’t (necessarily) simply focus on what you’ve ‘done’ to date - unless that’s the sort of work you want to continue to do, of course. Your CV is all about positioning what you’ve done at work so far in a way that will attract the sort of work you want to do next.
- Have you tailored your thoughts to make them meaningful to the employer you’re interested in? This can be an actual employer, or an ideal employer that attracts you. It’s about choosing the aspects about you that will appeal most to your target employer – those things which will be relevant to their business opportunities (what you see as their market strengths and growth plans) and pain (what you see as their market weaknesses and the threats or difficulties their business might face).
- After each sentence you write in your CV, ask yourself, ‘so what?’ Make sure what you include is relevant to the person who is going to read it, relevant to their business, this job.
- If you’re applying for an advertised role, identify what to target by studying the advert and job description for the skills, experience, knowledge and personal qualities sought.
- If you don’t have an advertised role (for instance, you're making a speculative application) collect and study jobs advertised, or Google job descriptions, for similar roles; then identify common themes in the skills, experience, knowledge and personal qualities requested.
- Consider what other candidates might offer that could be a stronger fit than you, and balance these by drawing attention to your particular distinctions and strengths.
- Express yourself in language that fits the style of the organisation/industry. Study job ads, company websites and social media postings to identify the key words that signal your awareness and experience of its challenges.
- This is particularly important if you’re submitting in response to an online advert - it’s probable your CV will be shortlisted first by key word technology, rather than a human reading your CV in full.
- If you’re submitting your CV through a recruitment agency, the agent assessing your CV may have limited experience or knowledge of your area of expertise. Make sure what you write takes that into account - be clear, without assumption, and jargon-free.
Overall, rather than simply sending a CV that says, ‘Here I am; take a look at me!’ your aim is to send a CV that says, ‘I can help you’ and then demonstrates exactly how.
Need more? I know it’s much easier to read about what you need to do to build a great CV, than actually do it. It’s one thing to understand what you need to do, another thing completely to know how to do it.
How do you identify what you’re good at, as well as what you enjoy?
How do you define your ideal job role, and ideal employer?
How do you distinguish opportunities and pain points, spot key words and avoid assumptions?
And tailor your thoughts to present them in a meaningful and impactful way?
if you'd like practical hands-on support with your CV, an experienced eye to help you decide what will work best for you - whether you need to write your CV from scratch, or revamp an existing one - why not get in touch? I’m here and ready to help.