A CV is basically your own advertisement and you’re the product that’s trying to be sold. It is a tool for helping you stand out above other applicants and for convincing your potential employer that you’re going to be the best person for the job. The key then is to differentiate yourself from other applicants in as many ways as you can as increasingly applicants have both similar experience and skills, this can be done in the way that you word and frame your CV as well as in your achievements, which are usually far more unique to you.
Whatever your previous experience has been there have always been challenges, tasks or duties that we have excelled at and would be good to talk about. It’s finding these examples that is key. You should try and think about projects, busy times, demanding situation etc where you have gone above and beyond what has been required of you, it doesn’t matter if you think these times aren’t really that important, they are key opportunities to demonstrate your skills in a way that isn’t simply stating ‘I have this skill’ and ‘I have that skill’ as anyone can simply say these things. What you’re doing is actually demonstrating that you’re capable of these skills and have used them successfully in the past.
An example of this to help you out is when you may have optimised something such as a spreadsheet that has allowed the rest of the team to function more efficiently and carry out their job more easily. This demonstrates conscientiousness, motivation and ingenuity.
If something that you’ve done has made your workplace more efficient, saved time, saved money or generally helped someone else out, then it’s definitely worth mentioning. Examples such as these will often crop up in the actual interview and will provide you with a good opportunity to further expand on your points and demonstrate that you possess the skills that you’ve written about.
When you write about achievements of this nature, it is important that you frame them using appropriate and suitable descriptive works such as ‘pioneered’, ‘implemented’, ‘established’ etc.
Sometimes companies may request that you submit a specialised application form that is tailored to extract information from you that the company is really after, rather than a more general CV submission. The Police for example utilise this technique, they employ a specialised application form that requires a lot of work and research in to finding out exactly what qualities the Police are after. For forms such as these, it is sometimes a good idea to seek help from a third party as well as determining whether the job that your applying for is actually worth the extensive effort required to fill in one of these time consuming applicaiton forms, use guides such as THIS
As mentioned earlier, you should avoid simply listing qualities which is very often a waste of time as anyone can simply list qualities that remain unverified and potentially lies to a prospective employer. Don’t just list the jobs and responsibilities that you’ve done or carried out but go in to the tasks you’ve completed and the skills you’ve used. Think about projects you worked on, feedback you received from senior management or colleagues and customers that you may have helped out in the process, all of these things will make your CV stand out and be far more individual.
It can be difficult to ‘sell’ yourself but it is a mentality that you need to come to terms with if you are to succeed in this harsh hiring climate. It can help to remember that what you’re writing is the truth, you are simply giving yourself and advantage that will help you stand out and get the job that you want. Getting a CV correct is an essential part of planning your next career move, it can open up the doorway to job that you would have otherwise been rejected from.
by Matthew Hayes