CV tips that give you the edge

4 days ago

Andrew Mcelroy  M94ht Qw9 X8 Unsplash

​The market is tough right now. We haven’t hit the recession yet but there is caution in the air, especially if you have been furloughed and are not sure whether you’ll make it back to your desk at the end of October, or worse of course have been made redundant. There are also contractors looking to go permanent right now because the market is challenging, but also there’s that thing we’ve brushed under the carpet – IR35. Then, there’s that moment when you see a perfect job posted on LinkedIn and realise it has had 500+ applicants. Do you apply? Will your CV stand out amongst a sea of people?

Here are a few tips to help you stand out.

Marketing:

Your CV is your marketing tool. It needs to neatly and accurately detail everything a potential hiring manager / talent consultant might want to know about you in a quick snapshot. That doesn’t mean you need to have a 15 page CV or have your picture on the top, but you do need to make sure that the key points are on the first page inclusive of your most recent role.

Always include a personal profile at the top. Reasons why you’re looking, what you’re looking for and what goals and values you have. The latter is particularly important.

Formatting:

It sounds simple but this needs to be neat. Always include a skills profile. There is a difference, however, between skills and competencies. Don’t get these mixed up! If you want to include both then use a newspaper bulletin style to save space but also clearly point out the two. This is a good way to show, for example, leadership capabilities vs. deep expertise in different technology solutions (and detail these out). If companies are looking to change their supplier from TCS to Wipro, for example, they’ll want to know you’ve dealt with such suppliers.

Responsibilities vs. achievements:

We all know that when you go into a role, it’s very likely that the initial job spec or the reason why you were hired have changed. That’s why it is important to include your responsibilities in your top title, inclusive of additional pieces you have picked up and then your achievements against those. My advice here is to go through your current bullet points on your CV and ask yourself, ‘What did I achieve here?’ ‘What was the end result?’ and then you can jot that down and amend accordingly. Additionally, the amount of spend you are responsible for and breakdown of categories etc.

I vs. we:

This is one of the most common pieces of feedback I get in interviews – that some candidates use ‘we’ too much. It’s okay to do things as part of a team, but you need to clearly identify the areas that you individually were responsible for. This can be hard to demonstrate on your CV, but it will be the difference between a CV that’s sent to interview stage and a CV that isn’t. If you’re responsible for strategy (and want to maintain that) and the team is responsible for execution, then this is a good indicator of the type of role you should be going for in the first place. Aim to identify in adverts whether there is a team already or if there are any hints about the company growing the team or the business. Demonstrating on your CV that you’ve grown a team will in turn help you when you get to interview stage.

Final thoughts:

Adverts that have a significant number of applicants shouldn’t put you off applying for the job, but you should think slightly different in your approach. Do you know anyone who works there currently you can ask for advice? Are there any trusted agencies you can ask about any interesting projects or programmes going on at the moment, or if they know why the organisation is looking for a new person?

If you’re a contractor, don’t panic. There is a lot of uncertainty in the market right now and hiring managers want to select the perfect person for their business. If you’re genuinely not interested in a permanent role or would rather stay contracting, hold out for a few more months. Of course if family or personal finances are a concern then that is understandable. However, if you go for a permanent role, you need to see it through and be prepared that at the end of that process, you will accept the job if it is offered.