A CV is your most important tool when you commence your job search, so getting it right is paramount. I see hundreds of CVs every week and know what works and what prospective employers are assessing when they look at your CV.
Your CV should start with a summary (after your personal details). This should paint a picture of past, present and future – who you are, what you’ve done and what you’re looking for. Think of it as your personal elevator pitch, include your area of specialisation, industries you’ve worked across and what you’re looking for in your next role. Best practice is to tailor this based on the role you are applying for.
- Write a clear description of the company you are working for. Not everyone will be familiar with your current employer, include one to two sentences about what they do.
- Be clear about your role. A title is not always enough to understand what your role encompassed. For example, a brand manager in one business may have completely different responsibilities in another. Provide context about who you reported to and your mandate.
- The person reading your CV may not be an expert in the space. Use keywords to clearly articulate what your role entailed so a layperson scanning will be able to pick them up. For example, stage gate, lean manufacturing, new product development (NPD). Recruiters and hiring managers may do keyword searches on your CV, a database and social media, you want to ensure you come up in their list by using keywords.
- Include achievements. This is very important. So often I see CVs that don’t clearly outline key achievements within a role. Basically, this boils down to how you increased revenue, cost savings, innovation or projects you led or processes improvements. If you look back on your time in the role, what are you most proud of delivering? What is your legacy?
- Use metrics to outline your achievements, data is your friend. If you overachieved against a target, include this. If you don’t feel comfortable disclosing sales figures, percentages are fine. This will also show that you are commercial in your approach and focused on delivering a return on investment. Make note of these numbers at the end of each role, because you may not remember them in years to come.
Often, clients will come to us asking for candidates with experience with specific software programs or tools. Always include your exposure to and proficiency of these things. It might be a particular CRM, Google Analytics or Adobe Suite. This is a great way to better position yourself in the job market.
Show the person reading who you are. What are your hobbies, passions or areas of interest? This is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition and potentially start to build rapport where there are common interests.
No need to include contact details – available upon request is sufficient.
- Make contact details easy to find, front and centre at the top of the first page of your CV.
- Be clear with dates. If you’re writing 2016 – 2017, how do we know if you were in the role for two months or two years?
- Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your CV but with less detail.
- Read through job ads and position descriptions for the language being used and replicate on your CV.
- Use clear and concise language that is not jargon specific to your organisation. No one else will understand it.
- Referencing your team accomplishments is great but don’t be afraid to say what you were personally responsible for.
- Think about the stakeholders reading your CV. HR wants to understand your skills and responsibilities. Line managers want to understand your proven achievements and projects you led. General managers or Heads of a function will be keen to understand the commercial impact of your achievements.