Posted On 15th April 2011

Short of writing your own wedding vows, there are few documents you yourself will produce which are so personal and will undergo the same level of public scrutiny as your CV.  The difference with the wedding vows is that it’s unlikely that anyone will pass public judgement on them.  You know, it’s just not the done thing.

The same cannot be said of your CV. To use a phrase I’ve used before, this is your personal calling card, a document which sells you and your skills to an ever more competitive jobs market.  Faced with a pile of applications, the recruiter (whether that be someone internal or external to the organisation you are applying to) will favour those which most clearly meet their criteria and which convince them that you are indeed the best person for the job.  In an employers’ market, there will be less chance of being given the benefit of the doubt: that is, after all, human nature.

I’ll post sometime soon on tailoring your CV but in the meantime, we’ll start at the point where you’ve pulled together a CV and are beginning your job search in earnest.  And immediately I’m going to suggest hitting the pause button.  Have you road tested that CV?

All too often when writing our CV our working life is boiled down to a mechanistic list of responsibilities and, if we’re not careful, we end up producing something which will only make sense to someone who is in the same line of work. This may be fine – if you are not seeking a change of career and know that the CV will be read by someone who understands your line of country.  In between our minds and the paper, we lose a sense of what difference we made in our last job; what we achieved which others might not have; and where we want that experience to take us next.  In other words, the very things that make us different and give a real flavour of what we’re like as an employee.

In some ways a third party may well be in a better position to put those elements back in but whom should you approach?  Of course, you might decide to approach a company such as Richmond Solutions for a free CV consultation.  Sales pitch over: think who you know and whose opinion you would value:

  • Do you have a friend who has a knack for these things?
  • Do you know anyone who has experience of recruiting, either as a consultant or within a company, who having read many hundreds of CVs or so has a clear view of what works and what doesn’t?
  • Even better, do you know someone in a position of recruiting influence in your industry well enough to get their view on what they would need to see to get you to the next step in your career?
  • Are you working with a recruitment consultant? In which case, I would hope that some critique on your paperwork would come as part of the service.

When they come back to you, make sure that you are ready to listen.  We’ve all seen CVs which are perfectly good and need little adjustment and the honest person will tell you that.  The honest person also tells you when they don’t think that your CV is going to get you where you want to go and the constructive one will suggest what they might add or take out or simply change.

It is of course up to us all whether we accept such advice or not but in such things it rarely serves us well to be defensive.  If you are confident in your own judgement, then all to the good – but then why ask for the advice in the first place?  And if you get the first job you go for, then congratulations.  But if at first you say no to the advice, but then keep hitting a wall of rejection, then reflect.  Seeking help and support isn’t a weakness.  It makes sense.  And it might just stop you from ending up peeing in the wind for months on end: all that makes you is wet and miserable.

Heidi Nicholson

Richmond Solutions believes all its clients are individuals and has a highly tailored and customised approach to its work. To see what our clients think, please see our case studies.

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