How to put your best foot forward
CVs are important. As recruiters, part of our job is to help our candidates put their best foot forward in the market. One of the common mistakes we see is people copying and pasting their job descriptions to form their work history.
Today we’re going to let you know why your CV should NOT look like a job description – and what it should encompass to help you land that interview! A job description is an internal document that is excellent at outlining and structuring business processes. It shows how you fit into the company ecosystem and defines your areas of responsibility. They are also full of those ‘keywords’ you need to bring to your CV – but that’s not all it takes to land that interview!
Writing a quality CV takes more than copying job ads or job descriptions from job boards. A CV should be an entirely different document.
5 ways to improve your CV
Your CV is about YOU!
Be specific. We want to know what YOU were doing and what makes YOU special.
Therefore, when describing your responsibilities, the vague phrases often found in Job Descriptions such as ‘organisation of processes’, ‘continuous improvement’, ‘responsible for’ – might not help you to stand out.
Instead, try to start every sentence with an active verb – Implemented, developed, achieved, launched, oversaw – and expand on how exactly you did it. Also tell us about the tools you used.
If an employer is seeking a specific technical skillset – it will only help your application to showcase your knowledge of particular tools, processes or models in relation to your job.
If you were responsible for a reporting function, it’s important to relay how you gathered information, what tools you were using to process and store it and how you presented it to users. If you were responsible for supporting an IT environment, what types of infrastructure were you supporting and what tools were you using to do
Instead of: Responsible for email campaign marketing strategy
Try: Launched marketing strategy for an e-mail campaign by developing and designing content within MailChimp, enabling ‘cold mail’ differentiation based on customer segmentation which resulted in a +24% open rate.
Context and Scale are important!
When the person viewing a CV considers whether a candidate is going to be the right fit for a job, one of the first things they seek to understand is the scale and context of their role. Hence, it might make sense to pay attention to a few things:
- State the scale of the company, the size of your team and, if they are not well known, provide insight to the goods/services the company produces and include a link to their website.
- Describe the scale of the project/job you were performing (longevity, resources, the nature and the purpose of the assignment).
- Describe your workload using facts and figures. For example:
- Provided up to 200 reports per month
- Managed a switchboard with over 100 incoming calls per day
- Supported user base of 1500+
- Worked with C-Level Project Sponsor
Don’t leave room for assumptions
Do not assume that your audience knows what you’re talking about.
You never know who has that first look at your CV and so it is a good idea to decipher abbreviations and acronyms and not hope that they will know the meaning or understand that particular industry term.
Of course, there are industry and universally recognised terms (ITIL, HTML, and FMCG) but P/P for example might mean Policies and Procedures, Production Planning, Power Propulsion or Puzzle Pirates.
CV’s give you to the power to showcase your achievements and results
Some people might think that only sales people can present results in the way they look worth mentioning in CV.
However, when writing your CV, reflect on how what you did delivered value as this will set you apart from the other CV’s in the pile.
- Identify how your role improved process or efficiency, increased revenue, saved time or money, amplified team engagement – you might find these vary depending on your job.
- Get into the habit of describing your responsibilities ‘which resulted in…’, ‘which facilitated…’, ‘which optimized…’
- Use demonstrable indicators with data to evidence your achievements
Start to collect data on how your work impacts business performance in your day to day work
- Responsible for daily one on one polices to coach and develop team members.
This looks like a line from a job description/job ad. So, in order to turn it into a real achievement you need to mention the indicator which would demonstrate your high performance
- Implemented a daily one on one coaching policy to promote a 15% increase in sales for team members.
A few more ideas:
Responsibility: Update the product website with sales and marketing offers
Achievement: Designed new product page with new graphics, content and live feeds to improve user experience; resulting in excellent customer feedback and significantly increased website traffic and conversion rates.
Responsibility: Attended top 5 industry events to promote company products, meet new and existing prospects, and convert leads to sales
Achievement: Attended top 5 industry events which resulted in ~$90,000 net in new sales & $45,000 in additional sales to existing clients, resulting in 36x ROI.Now we’re sounding awesome!
Again, your CV is about YOU!
Your CV is your one shot at making you stand out from the crowd. It makes absolute sense to start your CV with a short profile and a summary of your skills.
What is important about this part of your CV is to minimize fluff and list only relevant skills. Every line on your CV should market your skills or provide some unique information about you.
Evidence your capabilities – don’t let them hang as self-proclaimed catch phrases, tell us about you!
Profile examples to compare:
- I am enthusiastic professional with solid communication and problem solving skills, a dedicated team player with a can-do attitude.
- An enthusiastic professional with 10+ years of experience in Corporate Communication. Experience in Content, Social Media Marketing and Advertising obtained within FMCG and Healthcare sectors in a range of multinational brands.
Summary examples to compare:
- Digital Campaigns
- Strategic Marketing
- Brand Management
- Digital campaigns – in 4 years I developed and implemented 30+ promotional digital and media campaigns, generating 37% growth of customer conversion and retention.
- Strategic marketing – Designed and implemented strategic marketing campaigns for launching self-check-out system in Valueland supermarkets, resulting in an increase in the ratio of self-check-out system, accounting for 20% of all supermarket sales.
- Brand management – Successfully implemented a new strategy for launching gourmet niche stores under a new brand leveraging media. This brought in $20 m in sales.
Which candidate would you like to interview to be your new marketing manager?
How do you apply this information to your job search?
Using the examples above, apply these easy steps when developing your CV for each role you apply for:
- Study the job ads/job descriptions
- Define Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) employers are looking for
- Extract key words/phrases
- Decide which of your KSA’s are most important to include in your CV
- Get rid of all personal and transferable skills which are not mentioned in the job ads OR cannot be supported with examples
- Compose your CV with a profile and summary of skills so that they reflect the job requirements, including any key words that employers may search for.
- Construct a concise and enticing first page that will engage the reader
- Detail your professional experience and work history ensuring you highlight your achievements, results, technical skills and the context of your role within each organisation.
- Engage with a recruiter you trust to help you.