We often get asked what kind of people come to us for assistance. All sorts really. However, there are two groups which outstrip all others:
- People who have been with one company or organisation for a long time, perhaps most of their career, and have not had to write a CV or attend an interview for many years.
- People who have been in the job market for a little while and who perhaps have found it relatively easy to move around in the past but now, in a more competitive market are finding it hard to find a new position.
The focus of this blog is the latter. Of course, the market is part of the conundrum. While the latest jobless figures suggest a fall in unemployment, the actual makeup of the jobs market is changing and it may well be that the opportunities in a particular field may not be picking up. However, if the candidate’s CV is a problem what it usually boils down to is this: it does not sell them strongly enough.
Frequently, this has something to do with confidence and a certain reticence about taking credit for achievements. As an aside, I was once speaking at a women’s business conference and was asked if this was a particularly “female” problem. No, it can be anyone. So how do you make sure your CV shows you in the best light while keeping it true to yourself?
- Look at job descriptions for the kind of roles that you are going for. Think how you can show how you answer each of the criteria. What tangible examples can you offer to the recruiter/hiring manager to demonstrate that you are right for the role?
- Assess your career to date. What have been your proudest moments and how can you put these over in a way that is likely to be of interest to a new employer?
- Make sure you list your achievements clearly, concisely and in context. It is much easier to understand the impact of what someone has done if you can get a picture of the circumstances in which they did it.
- Come up with metrics. One number can speak a thousand words so if you’ve done a job where there are quantifiable results put them down.
- Conversely, if your work is highly qualitative, focus on the outcomes. It’s not just about what you did, it’s about how that changed things. The reader will want to know how what you did was successful.
Ultimately, if you’re still stumped, think of the following question: “what would not have happened had I not been there?” and discuss it with family and friends who know you and your work well. You should soon find that the ideas are flowing.