No one wants to write a CV. It’s akin to pulling your own teeth.
Perhaps that’s because it requires you to analyse and coldly review yourself. It puts you under close inspection – under the microscope one may say. Sounds uncomfortable don’t you think?
But who really needs a CV these days?
I know many will say that CV’s are extinct and that they’ve been replaced by the many ways and places online that you can showcase your work, history and strengths (so long as you’ve cleaned up your Facebook page).
But unless you’re an uber entrepreneur who doesn’t need to bother with such mundane things because your reputation precedes you, then you still need a CV.
For the average person, if you’re looking to up skill, move on, change careers or make a sideways move you need a CV to apply and possibly get your foot through that door.
You may be a professional, who needs to update and refresh your CV because it’s starting to look like a patchwork quilt, or you’re new to the employment market, or you want to change your career totally and have no qualifications to back you, or perhaps you’ve been trying to struggle through without one by just filling out application forms. All these instances need a killer CV.
Some time ago I wrote about writing power cover letters; another essential for job applications. Your cover letter needs to convince the reader that they need to meet who’s behind the cover letter.
Your CV needs to scream “Give me your time, listen to me.” It should be logically displayed and eye-appealing (without being flashy) so that it will get read.
A strong, focused CV relates 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.
Together, the creation of a powerful CV and cover letter should help you clearly understand what you have to offer an employer and therefore will help you better handle those tough, curly interview questions.
Here are eight basics to writing a killer CV. Let’s go through them:
- CVs are NOT a simple list of what you’ve done in your professional life. It’s not a list of dates, places and things you’ve done. It needs to whet the reader’s appetite to know more about you; specifically vague, promising more.
- CVs should be clearly focused on the responsibilities of the target job. Its contents should look at the job’s requirements solely from the viewpoint of the hirer; NOT your view. Think what the best person doing this job would be capable of and mirror that as best you can.
- CVs should reflect the likely job description of the proposed position. Go through the job advertisement and create a likely list of aptitudes and attitudes required to fulfil the job. Then list and compare your skills, achievements and contributions to the likely job description.
- CVs are a screening and timesaving tool for the employer. That is the reality. It allows people to quickly sort through applications and make initial judgements (however arbitrarily and unfairly) about the applicant. Yours needs to be short on word and long on promise to stand out.
- CVs should contain a set of critical keywords. This allows the reader to succinctly identify your skill sets and makes the CV easily scannable and able to be filed and stored in electronic HR databases – to be retrieved and ranked/weighted by these keywords. The string of keywords should include core competencies, special knowledge, areas of expertise and succinctly summarise your skills.
- CVs focus attention on your strengths. Simultaneously it should draw attention away from areas that lack definition. Package yourself as a desirable product.
- CV content is often used for interview questions. By appropriately focusing your CV you can sometimes (to a degree) influence or steer the direction of inquiry at an interview.
- CVs are your last and most powerful advocate. Interviewers often review their notes on each candidate, as well as their CV. Therefore it speaks for you long after you’ve left the building. This is exactly why it’s so important to specifically focus the CV on the target job.
In a real sense, putting together a killer CV is the foundation for succeeding at the job interview. Make it count.
The hardest part of writing a CV is the introspection needed to discover how deep your experience is, how you contributed to previous employers and an awareness of the type of performance you’ll need to give to shine at the interview and to succeed in the job.
All of those things are very powerful personal discoveries to make that will help open new doors for you and your career.