I need you to do something. I need you to start thinking. About yourself, please.
We’ve covered the eight basics of writing a killer CV, now it’s time to look at the specifics.
To do that you need to ask yourself some serious questions. As strange as it sounds, very few people really know where they’ve been, where they are and where they’re headed – well enough that is, to sell themselves.
To do that you need to look past the simplistic terms normally used to describe your job – past the words that explain the processes you do and follow – to something deeper.
You need to look at the implications of your job in relation to the overall success of the business. And while you’re at it, don’t miss noticing how important you are to your own plans, as well as your employer.
One of the greatest positives that comes from preparing a killer CV is that it gives you a fresh perspective – not only on yourself, but also on the value you add to your employer. We all have different backgrounds and skill sets. But we all have equal opportunity to add value.
Businesses today hire problem solvers.
Some of you have worked for many years – at multiple, a few or only one employer. Some of you have changed careers once or twice, while others have followed a fairly narrow path, intensely concentrating on deepening your skills. And then there are those of us (raise your hand) where diversity has broadened your potential and reinvention has coloured your past.
That diversity of work-past means that each of us requires a different vehicle to show off our history in the most desirable and persuasive light.
A strong, focused CV conveys your ability to shine in a job; it shows the actions you’ve taken to make things happen in the past, the behaviours you brought to bear in situations and how you understand the role that the job plays in adding and delivering value to the company.
Three possible ways
Experts agree that there are just three primary ways of summing up your past in a killer CV.
- Combination (Chrono-Functional)
You work history determines which one to use; to focus attention on your strengths and simultaneously draw attention away from areas that may lack definition.
You need to package yourself as a desirable product.
1. Chronological CV
This is the most readily accepted and widely used style of CV.
It’s what we normally think of as a CV – a list of dates, jobs and experience in chrono order, working from the most recent backwards. Generally only the last ten years’ experience is listed. Any further back than that is not considered relevant.
Hint: For those of us with more than ten years’ experience (hands waving wildly), refer to the Functional CV for tips on how to showcase your extra expertise to its best advantage.
This format is especially good for showing off your growth in a single profession, but is not so great if your work history looks a little like a patchwork quilt (refer to above hint to rectify this), or you’re just starting out. In all these case this format would highlight weaknesses (a definite no-no when selling yourself), instead of packaging you as a desirable addition.
As a generalisation, the following things are normally included in a Chronological CV: contact information; a career objective (sometimes); a career summary (sometimes); keyword summary; a chrono list of your job history; and education.
2. Functional CV
This style of CV focuses on the skills you have developed rather than when, where and how you built that expertise.
The content is generally very similar to the Chronological CV; however its presentation and the approach to highlighting your skill-set are vastly different. It is generally not written in chronological order and it also de-emphasises dates and length of employment.
This style is perfect for: mature professionals with lots of experience; career changers; career meanderers’; work force enterers and returners; and those closer to retirement than aggressive career building.
Hint: Of the three formats, it is most true of this one that it must be written (and re-written each time) with a specific job in mind. Because it focusses on your skills and ability to contribute to your prospective employer, those skills must ONLY be relevant to a particular job.
When writing this one, remember to focus on skills. The essentials to include are: contact information; an objective (sometimes); keyword summary (focus on skills); a functional summary (this section especially needs to be adjusted per the needs of each job); skills/behaviours/achievements (identify accomplishments specific to the targeted job and your approach that made them possible) broken into categories relevant to the job; dates (they are not the hero, place them judiciously as a support to your case); and education.
3. Combination CV
This is becoming a more and more popular format for very mobile professionals.
It combines the strengths of both styles, clearly demonstrating your skills as well as work history.
In this one, include: contact information; a career summary (one-two short sentences); keyword summary; a description of your functional skills (similarly listed per the Functional CV in relevant categories) with no mention of employers; a chrono job history; and education.
Making it work
You need to discover how deep your experience is, how you contributed to previous employers and gain an awareness of the type of performance you’ll need to shine at the interview and succeed in the job.
The fundamental truth
Regardless of the style and format of CV, all CVs are ineffective unless they are written and targeted at a specific job. Being a generalist in your approach doesn’t work. You must be specific.
Depending on your unique experience, you may need to write your CV in several different formats, to suit various situations and career opportunities.
Your CV is your last and most powerful advocate
It speaks for you long before you’ve entered an interview, as well as long after you’ve left the building from the interview.
That’s exactly why it’s so important to specifically focus your CV on the target job.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard writing your own CV. So get some help to bring out the best in your history, and sell your skills. Hire a specialist writer today. You deserve the attention.