Monday, 25 October 2004

Are you selling or shelved?

Recently, I was touted as someone who knows a bit about making CVs do what they are supposed to do. Create interest and get an interview.
So, in the end, I did receive a number of CVs and ended up writing this commentary which I believe would help towards ensuring that you are represented to the standard you do want to be recognised when your material lands on a recruiter’s desk.
Some of the commentary is directed and personalised, but no less relevant to any CV you read or write.
Introduction
I read your CVs with interest and decided it might be better to share a few thoughts about what I believe makes CVs do the talking before they really, really want to meet the persona behind the data.
I have a number of analogies which I think would help reframe a lot of the detail of what in your CVs to bring out the qualities that really sell.
At first, I view a CV as marketing literature, it is your brochure that says, when I sent you my resume, I saw myself as the best person you could recruit for that role. How do you get your CV to do that.
First Analogy:
This is quite morbid but contains some interesting facts of life. When I visit a cemetery, I first look round the first few tombstones to give me an idea of the time frame in which people were buried in this cemetery after which I go looking for the mausoleums or grand edifices that tell you about the persons, persons and families buried therein.
Then I hear a famous person is also buried there and go looking for their headstone usually expecting to see something grand. If the stone is grand, fine, however, if it is ordinary, I am a bit underwhelmed.
What is the point here? Many CVs are tombstones, ordinary, plain and simple, nothing of note apart from gleaning an idea of what is about. The CVs that stand out have professional formatting, straight to the point and clearly engage the interest of the reader - these are the mausoleums.
Always give your CV a different look.
Second Analogy:
Culled, edited, personalised and updated from an article about the Perfect CV.
This chap comes round and says, "I've got a gun", in some cases he would instil fear, if well known, he is probably trying to show off and his friends say "so what?" Any one can get a gun.
That is the Feature - many CVs are full of features and lists. The reader has to figure out how each feature might apply to his recruitment situation or rather discard the CV and pick another up.
Maybe, the chap was caught mid-sentence and he says, "I've got a gun and I shot someone". That is an Achievement, of sorts, but it could also be murder and everyone is appalled and horrified, he is about to be shopped to the police.
And so, many CVs are full of achievements, but who are the achievements for and why?
Then he really gets to complete his sentence, "I've got a gun and I shot someone with it and because I did that, we won the war". Everyone exclaims, "You won the war?" He is feted, honoured, respected and the feature or achievement pale in significance because he used those two to gain a Benefit.
Anyone who reads that benefit through from the feature has his imagination excited about who this person is and that is what your CV should do.
Anything you have done that cannot be quantified as a benefit to the firm you work in is of no great significance.
There is not though that the order you bring into the chaos of change management saves money, time, resources and increases productivity and so on.
People who can clearly illustrate that they have brought benefits to any environment in which they have worked are seen as people who have something to bring to the party even if they are initially not considered qualified for the job.
Work to be done!
Your profiles should be a brief about you which should cover 3 essential things - who you are, what you bring and your pledge to fit in. Eliminate jargon and profession letters from that profile.
Each aspect of your work experience should concentrate on how your contribution helped and benefited, then you can list or analyse how you used the tools to get there.
Use statistical stuff like you halved waiting times, increased success results by a percentage, got people involved in some scheme.
One of my jobs was tough to explain and this is how I put it down "Three teams were combined into one; my role was to make them work as one." - Then I talked about how we got about it.
How do you get promoted at interview? Your CV raised expectations, your presence exceeded expectations.
Only put in the jargon where it helps shed more light on what you have done.
The area where you did temping jobs, you were useful to whoever employed you and achieved and benefited those organisations, spruce that up.
If you travelled, give a general idea of what you did - white-water rafting, crocodile baiting or lion-riding.
Recruiters like unusual, weird, crazy but collected people; they have a great outlook on life. - Statement from Tom Peters the uber-guru.
Close your CV with an idea of where you think you are going career wise and what general skills you have that do not fit in the body of the CV per se.
Do not waste space on old jobs except if they do contribute positively to the whole picture.
Have fun!

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