Top Tips to Innovate your CV
How can two pages ever really sell the complexities of one person, your quirks, nuances, skills and experience? In a society where we have evolved so much, technologically and otherwise, it is fascinating to me that we still rely upon the humble CV to open the doors to our dream job. There is no doubting that we have advanced somewhat. Social Media has allowed us to visually present ourselves to the market, creating vlogs and podcasts to stand out in an economy currently saturated with amazing candidates. However, it still essentially comes down to those precious pages, to sell ourselves to prospective employers and ensure that we achieve that all important interview.
In the following article, I will share my advice about how to evolve within this competitive job market. By innovating a traditional process, the following hints and tips will help to refresh your CV and ensure that you sell yourself on paper, as well as you will sell yourself in person.
1. Never underestimate the power of a personal profile
This is where you, sell you! a powerful opening statement introducing any prospective employer to your key skills and experience. This prologue to your CV should be an overview, and one which represents you truthfully and accurately, incorporating your hard and soft skills and injecting it with just the right amount of personality.
‘The One with the Thesaurus’
Growing up, the Thesaurus was my best writing companion (I am aware, I am a loser). For anyone writing their CV, ‘Shift F7’ is there to help, providing you with the keys words which will enhance your resume and ensure that you are creating content which is intelligent and articulate as well as engaging. Never overdo this though, and only ever use dialogue which you are comfortable with. My fellow ‘Friends’ fans will remember the insane ramblings of ‘Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani.’
For those who struggle to sell yourselves, don’t be scared to ask friends, family and colleagues to help with this part. How would they describe you as a person? What would they consider to be your strengths? Similarly, look for inspiration in the job descriptions you are currently applying for. If an employer is looking for someone who is tenacious, analytical, approachable or principled, look for the key attributes which best describe you, and be sure to use them. Your personal profile is where you write from the heart, your ‘full sized aortic pump!’
2. Key Skills
Using bullet points to make the content accessible, include a list of approximately 8 key skills specific to you. These should incorporate a combination of hard skills (related specifically to technical knowledge and training) and soft skills (personality traits such as leadership, communication and empathy). Both are essential to ensure that you are balancing professionalism with personality.
Hard Skills are quantifiable and should include abilities such as a foreign language proficiency, typing speeds, IT systems or machine operations. In bullet form, they are easy for an employer to identify and cross reference with their own requirements. In contrast, Soft Skills are more subjective; they relate to the way in which you interact with others. I can’t emphasise enough that when employers are looking to recruit, they are seeking someone not just with the technical ability to undertake the role, but with the personality traits to complement their existing culture. They are not looking for a robot so don’t be inclined to represent yourself as such.
3. Education & Qualifications
There is no hard and fast rule as to where your Education and Qualifications should appear on your CV. However, my recommendation would be to prioritise the most important facets of you. Therefore, if you are a recent Graduate with limited employment experience, a school leaver seeking your first opportunity, or an experienced career professional who has continuously undertaken formal professional development, your Education & Qualifications section should appear here. Alternatively, if your formalised education preceded several years of professional experience within the workplace, you may choose to scoot this section down one, and focus on your career experience before your education.
Regardless as to where this section features on your CV, I cannot stress the following enough:
DO NOT DUMB IT DOWN! I am always astonished to hear that candidates are being advised to downplay their qualifications for fear of appearing overly qualified! Your education is an achievement and one which should be recognised and celebrated.
Similarly, there is no shame in having not achieved formalised qualifications. What there will always be is a reason for having chosen an alternative path. Choosing to pursue a different route into the workplace shows strength and character!
This is your story! Champion the decisions you made and the route you took, whilst acknowledging the opportunities for personal and professional growth.
4. Employment History
Put yourself at the centre and in context
As you would expect, this is of course where you include the fundamentals of your employment history; dates, job titles and company names. However, it is also incredibly beneficial to include an introductory sentence in respect to each organisation you have worked for. This will encourage anyone reading your CV to view you in context. It will allow a prospective employer to gauge your sector experience and ascertain your transferable skills.
Animate your sentences
Having highlighted the company, a brief summary of their products and services, your dates of employment and the role(s) you undertook whilst working there, you should also highlight your responsibilities and achievements. Again, this is a balancing act! Prospective employers don’t just want to know what you did, but also the impact of those actions. Using your trusty ‘Shift F7,’ incorporate action verbs to highlight your achievements and animate your sentences. You didn’t just oversee a team, you inspired them! You didn’t just enact change, you initiated it!
Structure your experience
Always begin with your most recent experience, working backwards in ascending date order. This is a hard and fast rule and not one to play fast and loose with. Structure your CV and find freedom in its content.
Aspire, Innovate, Evolve
We may well be a culture of post-millennial's at the dawn of a new technological era. However, we do still need to produce those 2 pages of A4! Rather than see this as a restriction, view it as a challenge. If you are a Sales Professional who has achieved unprecedented business growth, shout about those percentages with a visual graph! If you are a Designer who wows with innovative multi-media content, include a link to your online portfolio. If you are a Customer Services guru who received excellent client feedback, shout about it with embedded testimonials. This may just be 2 pages of A4, but you are an innovative professional, challenging the status quo and evolving beyond the written word.
Yes, this is optional! No, you should not ignore the benefits of including this section to your CV. As I’ve said throughout, a strong CV is about blending personality with professionalism. Naturally it’s a huge bonus if your personal interests include covert ninja training or extreme sports, anything which takes you beyond the realms of ‘socialising with friends.’ However, don’t be scared to include the mundane, as long as you do so with enthusiasm! If Netflix is your passion, what are you watching? If Gaming is your pastime of choice, what are you playing, and do you have a suitably embarrassing gamer tag? If you enjoy cooking, what cakes will you bake for your new teammates? This is a fantastic opportunity to create talking points for interview and to demonstrate your personality.
6. The Essentials
Whilst we are indeed innovative professionals, aspiring to stand-out in this competitive market and evolve beyond the traditional 2 pages, there are still some essential rules to follow when creating your CV.
DO tell your story and personalise your experience
DO make gaps in employment a part of your story
DO tailor your CV to the role for which you are applying
DO pay attention to detail; spelling, punctuation and grammar are absolutely fundamental
DO be consistent in your presentation; fonts and formatting should be coherent throughout
DO follow up any CV submission with a phone call to the Hiring Manger
Here to Help!
At Aspire Recruitment Services, we invest our time in people! Working in partnership with you, our candidates, we offer expert advice and guidance to ensure your that your CV reflects your personality as well as your profession. For anyone affected by redundancy and requiring advice and guidance about how best to represent yourself, Aspire Recruitment Services are currently offering a complimentary CV support service. We are committed to the growth of the economy and dedicated to investing our time in people.