Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thought Picnic: Caught at the end of a CV review


Stacking the shelves again
Putting yourself back on the market for a job after a break can be a daunting experience. Having accounted for your absence you are left with how to make recruiters interested in your skills, all acquired over time and packaged as experience.
Sometimes, what your CV was so good at doing at a certain time of your career may today be doing a less effective job and this requires that you have other people critique and review your CV – an experience that could be quite bruising but helpfully frank too.
Malleable CVs
The mistake many of us make is to turn our CVs into tablets of the law delivered from the mount when they should be as flexible and directional as a wind vane, catching the blast of the air and showing where it is going.
One truth I realised so recently was that your CV is not a one-size-fits-all for the jobs on the market, each time you have to skew your experience to match the opportunity which will allow the recruiter to immediately see if your skills match an opportunity on their cards.
For so long my CV was more suited to my professional network, it worked in the hands of people who already knew me, my work ethic, my abilities and potential. As one expert in the field put it, I had a social CV – that was a tough indictment.
Engage with the familiar
He went on to say my CV was telling stories that very few will have the time to read if I was not already known or somewhat recommended. With the competition on the job market and the attention spans that last less than the times to skim of the top page of the CV, one had to radically change the complete package to elicit better responses – my CV had to begin to target people who will only notice me from familiar things they see on my CV.
For that to happen, I needed things I have for long considered anathema in a CV but for the recruiter and manager are crucial – keywords, buzzwords, jargon, spiel and clichés.
The conservative mind in me with the well documented use of prose and language was now being asked to pedestrianize my CV for the lowest common denominator to order to have the eyes, then the ears and hopefully the role at the end of it.
Motivate interest with motivation
Another aspect I cannot say I am good at but I find is literally mandatory for when applying for a job in the Netherlands is the motivation letter or what the English will call a cover letter.
My friend offered these basic tips, if you know about the company; flatter them, then be excited about the role, tell them why you are well suited for the role using words or paraphrases from the job description and do not forget to include other virtues you might have boasting of your abilities and talents.
Use the active voice and ask them to call you providing your number within the letter, but even before the letter might have been read, call them too and ask questions that will compel answering services to pass you to the principals.
These are extraversion attributes I will have to cultivate, difficult as they might seem at first, it is war out there and you just have to be more than prepared to take the market on and work the system.
And much else
Along with this, position yourself for opportunities, show flexibility and broaden your view by including yourself in what you have the aptitude to attain rather than limiting yourself because you have not mastered a skill.
Much as you might want to tell a lot about yourself in your CV, leave space for the imagination and the desire for the recruiter to want to learn more about you by meeting you.
Between writing and speaking
One particularly fundamental lesson I took away from the review of my CV was to write about all my strengths but only talk about my weaknesses or vulnerabilities if the issue comes up.
HR departments on sighting a chink in your armour will most likely give you a wide berth than find ways to accommodate you.
As my preconceived thoughts about CVs got jettisoned and consigned to the scrapheap of the ineffectual, I can only hope that my new marketing literature, having excised the superfluity of the inconsequential will present interest, engagement, acceptance, consideration and contract.

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