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Archive for the ‘CV/resume’ Category

Interesting research from Zena Everett shows that recruiters are more interested in your most recent job than your profile, and supports the idea that factual profiles are more effective than those that are full of generalised ‘fluff’.

She also says that your job title must match what the recruiter is looking for – which reinforces the idea that you should put the job title of the job you are applying for in the first part of your profile to ‘position’ you correctly.

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An interesting article in The Guardian on how to be more persuasive. Looking at job applications, they say ‘one of the most effective ways to be seen as an honest and credible applicant is also one of the most surprising: admit a weakness in your application’

‘In one study, several hundred CVs were sent in response to an advertisement, together with a covering letter from the “applicant”. In fact, though, there were two versions of the covering letter. The first contained wholly positive information about why the applicant was best suited to the job. However, the second contained a small drawback about the applicant’s suitability that appeared immediately before the candidate communicated the strongest reason why they were best suited for the job (maybe they had four years’ experience rather than the desired five).

The study authors concluded that the reason the second letter generated many more invitations to attend an interview was that the covering letter had gained a credibility and trustworthiness that the first did not.’

Click here to see the full article.

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The profile on your CV – the box at the top that summarises you and what you offer – can be the hardest part of a CV to write. I’ve seen profiles that are chock full of adjectives telling me how wonderful the person is, how they’re good at team work and can work well without supervision, how they have great people skills and get on with people at all levels, that they’re hard-working and loyal.

The problem is, anyone can claim those kinds of generalised statements. So how do you make your profile stand out from the crowd?

One way is to focus on dimensions and credentials before you get to your personal qualities.

The profile is normally about 30-50 words.  Any more than that and the reader is likely to skim rather than read it. That’s about three sentences. Here’s what you can put in those sentences:

The first sentence should position you.  If you are applying for a job as a finance manager, then your first sentence should include the words ‘finance manager’ in it.  I have seen profiles that say ‘an [adjective] [adjective] person’.  Everyone is a person – that is not helping to say anything about you.

In addition to your role, you should include dimensions and credentials. Dimensions are factual or measurable things that get across the size and scope of  your job.  Credentials are recognition by others of your ability and performance.

Dimensions include:

  • number of years experience
  • industry, industry sector or type of organisation you have worked for
  • financials: budget, turnover, sales, income
  • number of employees, size of team
  • types of projects, areas of responsibility
  • specialist or technical skills

Credentials include:

  • professional qualifications
  • awards (company, industry, departmental …)
  • publications

So a first sentence might be: ‘A CIMA qualified finance manager with 12 years experience running the accounts department for a £4m t/o engineering company’.

Can you see how anyone reading that would immediately get a sense of the size of job the applicant is capable of?

The second sentence should include more dimensions and credentials.  If the CV is for a specific job then use the most relevant ones.  If the CV is a general one for an agency or job board, use the dimensions and credentials that get across the size of your job at its biggest.

If you have some major achievements, you can also start to edge one in here. For instance: ‘A successful software sales manager, with more than ten years experience selling [type of software] to blue chip and large public sector organisations. Turned around an under-performing sales team and increased sales by 340% in three years, to become number two in the market.’

The third sentence is where you can bring in your personal qualities. Think about what you are good at, what you get good marks on your appraisal for, what people say about you, what your strengths are. This is where to put them.

Try and make them specific rather than general.’Gets on well with people’ is general. ‘Gets on well with people at all levels from directors to shop floor’ is more specific.

Health warning: don’t make unsubstantiated claims.

You can either give evidence for your claim in the profile or in the rest of your CV.

‘Excellent customer relationship skills’ is an unsubstantiated claim. If you add a credential it becomes a fact: ‘Excellent customer relationship skills – won company-wide customer service award three times in 18 months’.

If you have made claims in your profile, you must provide evidence of them in the rest of your CV. If you claim ‘excellent people skills’, and don’t have any examples of people-skill related achievements in the body of your CV, then not only will your reader be less inclined to believe in your people skills, they may also discount the rest of your profile.

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Should you put references on a CV? Or leisure activities or ‘clean driving license’ or age or marital status or what school you went to or … well, whatever you can think of.

My answer is always simple. The purpose of most CVs is to get you an interview. So here’s the question: if you include references/leisure activities/driving license etc, will it help you to get an interview?

If the answer is ‘no’, then leave it out. If you leave it in, it distracts from the stuff that will help you get an interview.

References I have never come across a situation where references will help you to get an interview (if you have, comment below, I would love to know about it).

Leisure and social interests can be helpful, but only if they are the right ones.  Think about the key messages you are trying to get across in your CV. Do your social activities add to them?  If one of your key messages is your public speaking and presentation skills and you are president of your local Toastmasters or Rotary club, that adds evidence to support your message so may be worth including.

If you do include leisure interests, they should differentiate you. Avoid general or common interests – like going to the pub, chess, running, golf. Instead, phrase them as achievements and quantify them. Maybe your pub had a charity fundraising event that you were involved in – list how much money you raised. If you are on the golf club management committee, list your achievments. What kind of chess champion are you? How many marathons or half marathons have you run?

Driving license – is it essential for the job? Will it help you get an interview? If not, leave it out.

Age/marital status etc – my view is not to include things that give the CV reader an excuse to sift you out. Let them ask you that in the interview.

What do you think? What else would you include or leave out?

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