Not so much the trivial kind of Top Tips list you can read at any website – here is a thinking person’s guide to pitching yourself as a professional.
CV Tip 1: Stay above the trivia
Strong candidates know how to concentrate on the most recent, most senior and most complex functions in their employment history. They don’t waste space on minor skills and repetitions from the distant past.
CV Tip 2: Project a good timeline
Your CV is about what you have to offer in the future; you only use your past record to justify your claims to having valuable assets. Summarise the early stuff in your career and focus attention on whatever most powerfully justifies you in the role of candidate. Leave the job detail and your wonderful personality to the interview; leave your objectives and demand till they offer you the job.
CV Tip 3: Focus on assets
Don’t worry about the functional, the skill-based, the chronological and all the other versions of CV people talk about. Your mission is to find an effective way to showcase whatever assets you have that make you a strong candidate: this can be knowledge, experience, results, opinions about your performance, aspects of your vision, character or working methods.
CV Tip 4: Be positive in a professional way
Crazy claims and arrogance do not sit well with experienced recruiters who know enough about life to make up their own minds; the perfect tone to hit with your CV would be to make it sound like one experienced recruiter reporting to another. This means that it has the look and feel of comments about you, not claims by you. If you hit that tone you make a more authentic impression on the reader’s conscious and unconscious awareness.
CV Tip 5: The subtle results that really measure you
It’s great if your CV can shout success like ‘planned new sales initiative that achieved 150% of target and led to the adoption of methods by centres across the organization…” But not everyone will have such visible results, especially during an economic downturn. No need for despair: you can highlight all sorts of less obvious achievements when you describe your recent jobs and roles within each job; how about these to get you going:
- “…saved the company over 10% on its most important supply contracts through a planned process of inventory consolidation, pricing renegotiation and restructuring delivery timelines and SLAs…”
- “…initiated the first inter-departmental forum on quality standards against a mood of indifference from the management team and then championed all the advantages of learning, knowledge management, sales reactiveness and customer service quality to the point where a major culture shift became possible and showed up on the balance sheet…”
CV Tip 6: Leave them wondering
Some people write CVs so brief they do nothing but shout their headline claims to fame. Other people get stalled on trying to tell the reader everything. The right mix is to give them just enough to start believing in what you have to offer, leaving them plenty to ask when they interview. If you achieve that, you effectively set up the questions they are going to ask and you give yourself all the time in the world to prepare great answers.