THE JANUARY JUMP: TASK 13
I haven’t yet seen a CV that couldn’t be improved. Whether yours needs updating, tweaking or a complete overhaul, you can make a real impact in just 30 minutes today.
CV Sort Out
In recent years, both the format and content of CVs have changed.
To start your review today, run through the following checklist and note what needs to be changed on your own CV to bring it up to date.
1. Focus on Achievements
Most people have a CV which sets out what they’ve done in each of their jobs. It outlines their broad responsibilities and may use terms that are similar to those listed in a job description. It may even say “responsible for… “or “responsibilities included…”. The problem with this approach is that any person who held that role would write basically the same things. It doesn’t tell the reader or recruiter how you personally approached the job or what you personally achieved.
So CVs have evolved to focus on achievements.
For each recent role, write 3-5 short sentences about specific things you achieved while in the role. Try to quantify what you achieved by including numbers, percentages, external benchmarks or awards. I call this the “so what” approach.
Take an accountant as an example. Rather than saying that they have produced monthly accounts on time – like every other accountant – they should highlight something that they personally discovered/recommended/changed that had a real impact on their employer’s business. This impact should be defined in terms of increased sales, saved costs, improved efficiency or reduced risks.
For each earlier role you might just include 1-2 achievements since these are less important than, and usually less senior to, your most recent roles.
2. Personal Summary
Modern CVs include a personal summary statement at the top of the first page, directly underneath a person’s name and contact information. This section, usually containing only one to two short paragraphs, provides a quick snapshot of the person, and should give some information about their strengths and approach to work.
We talked more about personal summaries, and shared some expert tips, earlier this week in Task 11 – Brand Blast: Personal Summary. Jump over and take a quick read now if you are not sure what to include in your personal summary.
Interests are no longer included in CVs, unless they are actually achievements in disguise. Travelling, photography, gardening, yoga, art, and reading are no longer exciting enough to be listed. If, however, you regularly participate in ultra marathons or if you compete at National level in something, do include those. Otherwise, remove the entire Interests section from your CV.
It is no longer expected that referees will be listed on a CV. There is also no need to state “references available on request”.
With the new shorter CV format (see below), every line needs to work harder. Information about references has dropped off the standard CV because it took up space but didn’t add any value. We all expect that references will be requested at some point in the recruitment process and, at that relevant point in time, you will provide them.
5. CV Length
The modern professional British CV should be no more than 2 pages long. Some people can fit everything on a single page and that is also fine. But you must not go beyond 2 pages.
If you are an academic (who may well need to list more detailed information such as publications and lectures), then add this information in an Appendix.
While you may not have fully completed your CV update within today’s 30 minute session, hopefully you now have a ‘good handle’ on what is needed and you should have made some significant progress. Make a note of anything that you still need to do, and keep it handy. We’ll come back to it shortly.
If you would like some more information or help with updating your CV, we have a few resources available including my article about what recruiters are looking for in your CV, and I’m running this CV workshop in London in early February. We also provide individual CV reviews for clients (£175) if you would like expert help to showcase your skills and experience, or if you need to revise your CV to support a career change or return to work.
Find out more about the January Jump, and see previous tasks, on the January Jump homepage.
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