How to sell yourself on your Curriculum Vitae or Resume
A Curriculum vitae (CV) or Resume is a short document which acts as a show case for your skills and experience which a potential employer can use to decide if they wish to call you for interview. Traditionally this approach has been used in the private sector with the public sector preferring to use application forms, but this situation is changing particularly for senior roles within an organisation.
The ability of an applicant to use this space to sell themself positively and ‘stand out from the crowd’ is huge but most people don’t take this opportunity. As a result many CV’s are unattractive, disorganised, long and boring.
To help you make the most of your CV, here are some tips, which have helped thousands of people to successfully find a job, which matches their skills and experience.
Firstly you need to understand that a CV is your advert for yourself and although you should always tell the truth, and be prepared to back up what you say in an interview, it is a positive interpretation of the truth. Look at it this way – supposing you were trying to sell a chocolate bar – would you tell your potential customer that it rots your teeth and makes you fat or that it is full of goodness and gives you lots of energy? Obviously you would sell the positives and when it comes to selling yourself the same principle is true.
Secondly you need to realise that the average recruiter looks at a CV for no more than 30 seconds and if they don’t like the look of it, it could be even less time. So the information you provide must be set out attractively, be achievement based, relevant to what the organisation is looking for, be no more than 2 pages and put the most interesting information first.
Let’s look now at the structure of a CV. The format suggested is based on how people read and absorb information and enables the recruiter to find what they need to know quickly and easily. Your name should be the first thing the reader will see, followed by your contact details including your address, email and contact phone numbers.
You should then include a short 3 to 4 sentence summary, which shows at a glance what you do (include a job title), the skills, background and experience you have gained in your previous roles. Write this last when you have a clear idea of what you can bring to a role. Try to avoid clichés like ‘An excellent problem solver or team worker’. Instead try to work out what your unique selling points are or why they should employ you over others with similar experience.
Under the summary, put a heading called career history or work experience. This is your chance to map out your career to date, which should start from your current or most recent role and work backwards to your earlier working life.
NAME OF COMPANY 20XX to date
- Write a list of around 6-8 achievement based sentences highlighting the value you have added to your organisation
- Interesting things you have done
- Highlight what value you added to your employer
- Events that you are proud of that you want to be talking about at the interview
- Keep it positive at all times
If you were doing the same job as someone else in the company try to think what you were doing differently from them and why people sometimes came to you for assistance rather than them. Imagine yourself at the interview. What would you like to be telling the interviewer? Construct an ‘achievement based’ sentence, which would encourage them to ask you more about it. Don’t assume that they would know what your job involves.
Start each achievement based sentence with an action word, for example it is much more powerful and interesting to say ‘Designed and produced timely financial reports often at short notice to meet business requirements’ than ‘Timely production of financial reports’. Put the most interesting bullet points first and give the first part of each sentence the most impact. Try to avoid lifting phrases out of your job description or beginning a sentence with ‘responsible for….’.
Here are some other action words that you could consider:
Demonstrated, Transformed, Introduced, Negotiated, Generated, Increased, Awarded, Created, Implemented, Researched, Adopted, Initiated, Designed, Acquired, Established, Streamlined, Influenced, Rejuvenated, Delivered, Built, Overcame
Continue this process for each of the jobs you have done in reverse order. If you have had a number of similar jobs at the beginning of your career and the CV looks as though it might go over two pages you might like to chunk them under one heading, highlighting achievements that were made during this time.
CUSTOMER SERVICE ROLES 1985 to 2002
- Performed well under pressure to tight deadlines and customer service standards in a number of prestigious organisations including London Electricity, Littlewoods Plc and Thames Water
- Won annual customer service award for successfully resolving an ongoing high profile complaint
Once you have completed your employment experience conclude your career history by having a separate heading for
EDUCATION, TRAINING AND QUALIFICATIONS .
Again set these out in the most positive light. You do not need to include names and dates of schools and colleges unless they were particularly interesting or significant.
If you have space you could include
for example interests, nationality. Omit family information and by law you can leave out your date of birth if you would prefer.
If you follow these guidelines you would have prepared the ground work for you to achieve success in the next stage of your career.
If you have found this blog helpful you may find my 5 blogs on interview skills helpful. Just click on interview skills on the categories bar and they should appear.
Best of luck in your job search.
Pamela Milne is author of The People Skills Revolution – a step by step approach to developing sophisticated people skills.
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Pamela can be contacted through this blog or her website Solutionsunlimited.co.uk