Posted 27 April 2016 | 1 Comment
It’s spring! It’s that time of year where everything feels new. The days are getting longer, flowers are blooming and the sun seems brighter.
Springtime brings a kind of optimism that the colder months tend to lack for most of us and with that optimism comes a great time to seek new career opportunities. If it’s been a while since your last job search, don’t start by sending out the same tired, old CV. The best results come from a new approach.
Just like a spring lamb, your CV needs to be fresh, bouncy and make cute little baa sounds… Wait, that’s not right. But it definitely should be fresh. It’s time to spring clean your CV!
Determine your objectives
First things first. Before you get down to editing your CV, you need to be clear on what you want from this. What job are you looking for? Are you seeking a sideways move to pastures new or a chance to step up to the next level?
Once you have defined your objectives you can tailor previous roles to match your plan and highlight skills from seemingly unrelated positions that align with where you want to be. But, before you crack on with editing every past role…
Out with the old
The first time you sat down to write your CV, it was probably necessary to grab every bit of experience or responsibility you’d ever had to show what you could do. If this isn’t your first rodeo, it’s time to cull the irrelevant.
The hiring manager for a senior position probably won’t be impressed by the Summer holiday you spent after Year 11 helping Mrs Lloyd next door to clean out her loft. Be brutal. If it isn’t relevant to your career now, cut out early work experience or (if you really must keep it) take it down to a title and a date. Save valuable space to give more detail about later, important roles.
Pick a style
If your CV was in comic sans. Just burn it and move on.
We kid! But seriously, dated layouts and childish fonts have got to go. Pick something simple, easy to read and classic. Don’t distract from what the document should really be about, your skills and experience. The only CV that should show design flair is from someone showing a relevant skill by doing so – a designer, web developer etc.
View past roles with new eyes
Two of the most common mistakes we make when evaluating our own job roles are 1) over generalising and 2) being too specific.
Stick with us on this one.
1. The issue with being too general is that we often assume other people will know what a job like ours entails and so fail to point out the specific tasks carried out. It can be tricky trying to sum it all up without creating a ten page essay for each previous job. Try to be concise, but never assume people will already know what you did without telling them. More importantly, never assume everything you did was standard for a role of that level. Take a look at job adverts for similar positions and you may find you were adding value that a recruiter for a more senior position would love to know about!
2. At odds with being too general (but equally as important) is the classic mistake of being too specific. To give an example;
Say you work as a Conveyancer at a property solicitor. This role and even the job title is very specific. You oversee the legal work on remortgage transactions, ensure each stakeholder has completed their part of the process and keep all parties up to date on the overall progress of the case. While the daily tasks (ID checks, land registry searches, contracts etc.) are related only to this particular process, the overall skills required to complete them are very similar to those of an Account Manager. (Stakeholder management, project management, keeping to SLA’s, ensuring client needs are met and so on.)
This knowledge would be hugely valuable should you wish to become an Account / Project Manager and it would help your application immeasurably if you make clear the similarities of the two roles, rather than focusing only on the specifics of the position you held.
The lesson? When writing your CV, don’t assume the reader will know that your role is similar to what they are looking for if it isn’t an exact match. Make it clear. Define any and all transferable skills / similar duties and highlight your potential for success.
Refresh those references
Your first boss may not be at that company anymore, even your last boss may have moved on by now. This is often seen as a non-essential task but why allow something as simple as outdated referee details slow the process when your dream job is within reach?
If you want to check up on the current status of your past managers, LinkedIn is a great place to start. It’s easy to see where people are now and helps you to avoid calling companies directly if you don’t want it known just now that you are looking to move.
For character references, be sure that the phone numbers and email addresses are up to date. If their contact information is no longer correct, you could miss out on a glowing reference. Don’t pass up an opportunity for praise!