Spring is definitely in the air and it’s a good time to refresh your CV and make sure it is the best representation of you.
I see hundreds of CVs a week – the good, the bad and the down-right awful. A common mistake is people not reviewing their full CV and only updating the most recent job information. They don’t take a fresh look at the whole document and are not providing a joined-up story of their career.
Let’s face it – it is not a task anyone relishes. Communications people spend their working life making others look good and ensuring there is a clear story. When it comes to themselves it is often a case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes.
But I would recommend you don’t sell yourself short. Invest some time and challenge every bullet point. Is this really adding to my story and related to the role I want?
To kick off, make sure you have a clear and concise opening summary. Highlight your particular expertise and don’t try to cover off everything.
If you are senior professional, put your educational information last as your work experience will be the most relevant at this point in your career. With job details, the rule is most information about current role and fewer points about roles earlier in your career. You do not need to take up half a page about your first agency work experience position – and if it doesn’t add anything relevant at this stage, a simple one liner about dates will suffice.
I advise including bullet points about your role responsibilities, followed by several achievement bullet points. Where possible, include measureable outcomes. For example leading employee engagement survey and post results improvement programme is a responsibility not an achievement – it is what is expected of you in your job. An achievement linked to this could be: “Led employee engagement programme during business restructure which saw a 40% increase in participation and 86% understanding of new corporate vision.
Other Points to Consider:
- If you are currently working for a PR Agency but want an in-house role, drop the fee revenue and new business wins information and focus on campaign achievements and your sector expertise
- If you are a contractor, you do NOT have to include every assignment on your CV. Keep a long list of work and pick and choose which examples to include based on role you are applying for
- Make it clear if a role was a contract – otherwise some might think you were only there for a short while because it didn’t work out
- Delete repeats – don’t need to include everything under each role. If team management is covered in most recent roles, don’t need to cover in role from ten years ago
- Please proof read – if you have a section in all CAPS sometimes spell check doesn’t work
- Tailor your CV for each role you are applying for – majority of CVs get rejected because the reader can’t quickly see why the candidate is a fit for the position
- Leave out the links – if someone is reviewing 30 CVs, they do not have time to click through to examples of your work
- Keep the experience under the role you gained it in rather than summary of skills and a list of employment. Leaves the reader wondering what is most recent experience and no context of business environment
- Hobbies and interests – I say leave out or challenge why included. If applying for a role with a charity and it demonstrates you have provided pro bono PR support for the past five years, that is relevant, saying you have a fish called Barry is not
The thing about CVs is that everyone has a different opinion on the best lay out. Bottom line is you need to be confident that your version is the best representation of you and will allow you to comfortably talk through your career at interview.
By Julie Mazzei
Principal Consultant – UK Regions, North & East Midlands