Author: Susie Timlin, Global Director of People & Culture, Hays Talent Solutions
It’s a nice problem to have. You have years of professional experience under your belt, so writing or updating your CV shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well that’s where you’re wrong.
Many experienced, senior-level jobseekers struggle when attempting to update their CV. Perhaps they are unsure of how to optimise the most relevant information so that it stands out to the recruiter or hiring manager, as opposed to getting lost in a sea of job titles, skills, qualifications and experience. So, here’s my advice for writing a concise, yet impactful CV.
Start by eliminating any information that just isn’t relevant to the role or industry. Start this process by highlighting the key skills and attributes required for the job in question. Now look through your career history. Have you used up valuable space describing skills, attributes and responsibilities from years ago, which don’t match up to the role in question? If so, take them out.
There’s also no need to include your early education, or first jobs on your CV. Always bear in mind that you need to ensure your CV is as current as possible, not harking back to the distant past when you were a different person with comparatively less to offer.
Write your CV with your target in mind
Now that you have only the most relevant information on your CV, it’s time to make sure it stands out as much as possible to the recruiter. As a senior-level job seeker, it is vital that you write your CV with your target in-mind, and not bombard the reader with everything you have ever done. You run the risk that may bury the most pertinent information and will lead the reader to lose interest quickly.
Follow the below steps in order to group all of your key achievements, highlights and attributes in the most visible place, ideally on the first page of your CV.
1. Contact details:
Along with your name and contact details, I recommend you provide a link to your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile (If you choose to do this, you must ensure your LinkedIn profile and CV match up in terms of dates and job titles). This way, the recruiter can find out more information if necessary and access examples of your work.
2. Personal statement:
What really needs to stand out here is your USP – what is your value proposition? Why should the recruiter or hiring manager read on? What can you bring the company that no other candidate can? Talk directly to the reader here.
You could also use this section to summarise relevant and notable achievements you’ve had throughout your career. For instance if applying for a Marketing Director position, you would mention the time you increased revenue at a specific company by X value, by implementing a campaign which involved Y and Z. Give the reader numbers and hard facts. This is great way to highlight any achievements which didn’t necessarily take place within your most recent role, in a more prominent position on your CV.
List your principal areas of expertise in the form of bullet points. Use the opportunity to condense any information that is most relevant to the role, but not deserving of a whole paragraph. Perhaps try formatting these to the side of your CV, so as not to take up too much valuable room in the body of the CV.
4. Career history:
List your career history in reverse chronological order, listing your most current role at the top. Provide the most information about your current or most current role, and give less information the further you go back in your career history. If a previous job was completely irrelevant to the role you are applying for, but you want avoid any gaps on your CV, simply list your job title, dates and the company you worked for. This will save you space on your CV, whilst providing top-line information.
5. Simplify your language and format:
Don’t use ten words to say something you could say in five. Get to the point in a way that is easy for the reader to understand and quickly makes an impact. Use action verbs as much as possible. Avoid blocks of copy – this will deter the reader – your CV needs to be easy to read and easy to follow, no matter how much experience you have. Also avoid company specific terminology that won’t translate to the reader. Lastly, proof read, proof read, proof read – you will instantly lose credibility if your CV is littered with spelling and grammatical errors. You are simply too experienced to be making these sort of simple mistakes.
Ultimately, your CV is your sales document. As an experienced professional, you must ensure it is pitched at the right level and showcases your offering, as it stands today, not ten years ago.
Follow the above advice in order to streamline your CV and effectively emphasise your many years of experience succinctly and in a way that does your skills and experience justice.
Thank you for reading! For more useful advice and insights about the world of work, visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below.
- 4 steps to an error-free CV
- Struggling in your job search? Follow these 5 steps
- Commit to these 6 things to achieve career success
- Market intelligence: All the latest market reports from Hays