May 22, 2018

My top tips  – To spring clean your CV

We all love spring. I love the light early mornings, the longer evenings, and l even look forward to cleaning the BBQ.  By early May the sun shines with real warmth, flowers burst into life, and the trees transform themselves seemingly overnight.  For me personally it is also the time which contains both of my daughters birthdays not mention my own.  In short it is my favourite time of year, full of hope and the promise of better times to come.

Time therefore to give our careers a little lift by refreshing our CVs.  Here are my hot tips for making sure your CV bursts into life with new spring energy and zest.

Spring Bluebells
Spring Bluebells

Bursting with pride?

Ask any careers specialist what is the most important paragraph in a CV and they will all say it is the personal profile.  But so many of us waste this opportunity by failing to capture the very things that make us most attractive to employers;  namely the skills and achievements that make us unique.  Articulating this in way that conveys the achievement in full and compels the recruiter to read on is a difficult skill.  One trick to help you do this is to ask yourself one key question.

“In all that you have done, what is it that you are most proud of in your life

I often use this question help students reflect on their successes, the answers that I get in response often astonish me, and when the interview has concluded I am left with a new sense of admiration for that individual.

Curse of the “Gimme”

Secondly so many of us clutter our CVs with what we think are impressive achievements but are in fact what I refer to as “gimmes or givens”.

So what is a “gimme”?  Well let me give you an example of what I mean.  Let’s imagine you call up a taxi, and on arrival the driver winds down his window to proudly announce “I have full driving licence”!

Impressed? – no me neither, and the reason is that of course you expect him to have a driving licence, after all he’s a taxi drive for goodness sake!  Or to put it another way it’s a given.

That’s why unless you can offer some eye catching evidence to support it, using phrases as “good team player” or “focused individual” are in my opinion a waste of time, as any employer will expect all his employees to be focused and good team players. They are CV “gimmes”.

The blessed “Save as” command

Spring Trees
Spring Trees

Finally I have lost count of the number of times students have told me their CVs are too long because they stretch to more than two sides.  My response is so what? ……… a response which is usually met with a confused frown.

My attitude is to recommend that individuals create a “Master CV” in which students can capture any achievement, skills, interests they feel might be of value at some point for an application.  Don’t worry if by doing this exercise you are left with a bloated document of possibly four or maybe even five pages…… Why? because you will never send it in this format.  Rather by using the save as command you create a new version of your CV for each application.  I mean how long does take to delete or promote particular paragraphs?  Exactly! It takes no time at all, but you create a CV which is optimised for each role that you are applying for.  It sounds very obvious (it is) but it is astonishing just how few candidates adopt this common sense approach.

So enjoy the promise of summer just around the corner and follow these simple tips to improve your chances of getting your next CV submission noticed.

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