It’s Thursday afternoon. You’ve had a long day at the office and you have thirty minutes before you leave for home.
With nothing demanding your attention, you casually glance around your desk to see if there’s anything you may have missed. Your eye catches the standard brown envelope of standard size and standard ‘flatness’ that you have been trying to ignore all day.
It is addressed to ‘The Manager’. That’s you.
It looks like a CV and you are not looking to hire anyone right now. But your suspicion is confirmed as you slide the stapled document out of its envelope. In fact, the entire front page displays the letters C.V. in font size 72.
You generally throw uninvited CVs in the bin. Or send them to HR, who throw them away for you. That is, unless you are looking to recruit someone.
Today, with some time on your hands, you decide to take a look at this one.
On the top right hand corner of the second page is a decorative scroll and the rest of the page is filled with personal information.
First, the applicant’s full names (all five of them, like they use in a Christening ceremony).
Below that is a full home address with postal code (so you can send a gift).
Then home and mobile telephone numbers, ID number (for the numerologists perhaps), age (which you already quickly calculated from the ID number), number of dependents (for the annual staff event), drivers licence and class of vehicle (perhaps the applicant is looking for a position as a driver?) and finally his health status like a medical aid application. This of course says, “Excellent”! Why would you admit to being bored, depressed and anaemic?
A statistic from a few years ago reported that a CV got read for only 30 seconds before the reader decided to either continue reading or to toss it in the bin. Test that against your own experience of receiving unsolicited CV’s.
On that basis you can see that our applicant is wasting valuable time by providing information that only proves he is not a corpse. If he were unfortunate enough to check into hospital late at night, he could simply add his medical aid number to this information and hand it to the nurse at reception.
How far will you read? By now even you may be getting bored, but let’s see how much longer you can hang in there.
Page two lists qualifications, starting with matriculation school subjects and symbols achieved. This is followed by WORD and EXCEL courses, then finally an Honours degree in Financial Accounting.
Pages three, four, five (and six) provide full job descriptions of all previous jobs. It starts with the applicant’s first job and includes all duties and responsibilities. Page six outlines the most recent role.
There is an 8-month gap in employment that brings us to the present and which is not explained.
You push through to page seven. Ten minutes and you can go home. Your interest picks up when you see a heading ‘Special achievements and interests’. This promises to be a little more entertaining, but it isn’t. It shows that the applicant was rugby captain at school and that his interests are 4X4 trails, the outdoors and wine tasting.
At the bottom of the page is a list of references to verify this information.
Who’s hiding in there? Lurking behind this dull wrapping could be a number of people.
He could be a wine connoisseur who went to a good school where he played first team rugby and is now a kick-ass financial manager.
He could also be an out-of-work, poorly presented candidate whose rugby days preceded his current shape — a result of too many barbeques before he lost his last job through negligence.
You still have a bit of time, so you ponder how to find out more about him.
Ah! Social media!
The only Facebook page that pops up with his name has a profile picture of a ‘braai’, fire ready lit, but no people in sight. The other pictures are of off-road vehicles and three guys with arms around each other’s shoulders. One of them is holding a bottle of wine. Are they holding each other up? Could he be one of them?
There are a few people with his names in various forms on LinkedIn. Only one profile has a photograph, but that looks one nowhere near the age we calculated from the ID number. One profile without a photograph reads ‘Accountant – seeking opportunity’.
You search Google ‘images’ and find photographs of rugby players, people in suits giving speeches and a group of cadets. No hot clues.
You decide to call the mobile number listed on his CV to speak with him. The number connects and you pull the phone abruptly away from your ear as ‘You’re simply the Best’ blares out at top volume, followed by a message, “to copy this tune press 1”. After a few more rings a woman’s voice announces, “You have reached the phone of…” followed by a dead pan voice “Willie’, followed again by the cheerful lady’s voice that invites you to, “Please leave a message after the tone”.
Well, it’s been a diverting half hour, but you already have a full accounting department, so you drop the CV in the bin on your way out; the same place you put so many before.
This CV is not helping our applicant too much. Job search involves much more than having a CV, particularly an uninspiring one like this.
The purpose of the written CV is to get you in front of someone who needs what you have to offer, and who has the power to hire you. This one isn’t doing to well as an invitation to meet.
I have taken our applicant’s CV to its worst extreme, but it’s not too far removed from the average CV.
It’s no surprise that most unsolicited CVs end up in the waste-paper bin and many well-meaning applicants never hear another word.
How about you? Maybe you’ve sent out a similar document in the hope of finding a role you want. Perhaps, with no response, you have come to the conclusion there are no jobs out there or that no-one is looking for someone with your skills. How would you know?
As a potential employer I would be keen to know a few things from you.
- What can you do for me? (Or would you rather I decided?)
- What kind of person are you? (Why would I want to hire you, rather than someone else?)
- What do you know that would be helpful to me? (Or should I just take a ‘stab’ based on your qualifications and interests?)
- Why did you send your CV to me particularly? (Or did you just happen to have my address?)
By providing only general information, you have joined millions of people looking for the job you want and you have done so with a vague document that is not compelling reading. Even worse, you have done so with a document that leaves people guessing what you are looking for and how you could be of service to them or to their business.
What a CV can’t do
- A written CV is not enough – it never is – and doesn’t guarantee that you will find what you want when you want it. Your ‘living CV’ includes your reputation, your behaviour and whatever shows up online. You could be unemployed, underemployed or miserably employed for a long time, even with a great written CV.
- Qualifications are not enough unless you have a very rare skill or profile. You may think the qualifications you have worked hard to achieve makes you valuable and in demand, but they may not be scarce in the market place and may not be enough to get you an interview, or double your previous salary.
- There are fewer jobs than job-seekers in most parts of the world. Some places are worse than others.
- Getting the attention of a potential employer can be tough. Decision-makers in the workplace are busy or are dealing with information overload, internal mails, have articles they want to catch up on and people needing to see them. Your CV is not essential reading unless they are desperate to fill a vacancy and it deserves their attention.
- There are literally thousands of ways to write a CV. The format I will suggest here is simply another way. If you find an outline that works better for you, then use it. If you decide to use another format, do what you can to retain the essence of what you offer.
- Bigger isn’t always better. Just because your CV is 15 pages long doesn’t make it more valuable than a potent one-pager.
- One CV may not be enough. Consider having more than one written CV for different roles and applications. This doesn’t mean losing the essence of what you do, but focusing it around a role makes it easier for the reader to join the dots. It also increases your chances that someone will read it.
- Quality matters. Check your CV. Check the spelling. Get someone else to check it. And don’t hand it over till you are sure it is excellent.
- Your written CV is only one tool among several to help you find work that matters to you. It hopefully includes what you want, what you have done, what you have learned and tells the story of your career so far
- Creating a one page CV
A one page CV?
There are literally thousands of books and articles on how to write a CV; this is not intended to replace any of them, but here is a wild thought. Imagine having a single page CV; a page that is able to stand on its own or provide a framework for a longer version when you need it.
As you construct it, it will help you do a couple of things:
It will help you define more clearly what you want and what you have to offer.
It will help you coherently present what you want and what you can offer in work conversations and interviews.
It will also help you have more fun conversations at those social gatherings when ‘So, what you do?’ is a sure question you may get.
Your one page CV will include five pieces of information. I have used general names for each heading, but you can decide for yourself what you call them.
- NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS
- OBJECTIVE (Describe the position or kind of employer you are looking for, where they are situated, and what you can and want to do for them).
- EXPERIENCE (List the positions you have had that support your objective. Start with the most recent and use only one line for each position).
- QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING (List qualifications, training, and informal learning that support your objective).
- PERSONAL (Tell the reader something about yourself, what kind of person you are, and what they can expect from you if you end up working together).
1. Name and contact details
Provide your name and contact details so that potential employers can find you, but only your name and contact details, not your address.
Since this is not a court of law or marriage ceremony, use the name and surname that you would like to be called. If your given name, Penelope, was only ever used when you were a child and in trouble, and you now prefer Penny, then use that.
Provide an e-mail address that is valid and monitored. Consider whether you have an appropriate and professional email address. The ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com may be due for an upgrade.
Provide a phone number where you can be reached. If your phone is answered by someone other than you, make sure it is done so in a professional way. Opening lines like, “My Daddy’s in the toilet,” or, “Oh him! No he doesn’t live here anymore,” will not help you.
Make sure your voice message is clear and professional. Also make it clear that this is your number, rather than simply announcing, “You have reached the following number…”
If you don’t want anyone to leave a voice message, then leave a message that says: “Please do not leave a voice message, message or e-mail me instead.” Then provide an email address if you want to.
2. Formulate a Career Objective
In a world where many CVs cross decision makers desks daily, a clear objective takes the guesswork out of what you want, and explains clearly how you can serve that employer.
Create a clear objective that states what you are looking for and how you can help a prospective employer.
You can call this heading: ‘Career Objective’, ‘My Career Objective’, ‘My ideal job’, ‘My Value Proposition’, or any other title that works for you.
A clear objective can save you a stream of interviews for roles that you are not suited to. Most importantly, it will help you make the best use of the 30 second window we mentioned earlier.
You can of course create different objectives for different positions. Each position might require different skills and a different angle.
Here are 5 steps to creating a career objective.
- Career Objective Step 1: Have a conversation with yourself
Before writing your career objective, you need to have a conversation with yourself to find out what it is you want:
- What job or role you want?
- What do you do well that you can bring to the job?
- What kind of experience do you bring to this field of work?
- What key personal attributes make you a good candidate?
- Where do you want to work geographically? (If you are entirely flexible, say so).
- How far from home are you willing to work? (This can include the amount of time you are able to be away on business trips).
- What industry do you want to be involved in?
- What kind of organisation do you want to work for? (This could be an industry as a whole, a division, or even the company name).
- What particular values in an organisation would be important to you? (What is important to you would also need to be important to the organisation).
- What skills do you want to offer? (What are you good at and love doing? You may as well start there, even if part of the job is not as attractive).
- What experience do you want to bring to the role? (What experience have you got that would support your objective?)
- Career Objective Step 2: Choose a starter line and state your WHY.
Here are some examples of starter lines:
- “I am looking for a position in the fishing industry that needs someone who…”
- “I am applying for the position of……and am able to….”
- “I would like to work in a company in Cape Town that needs someone who…”
- “I would like a role as a bookkeeper with a small business in the Northern Suburbs that needs …”
- “I am looking for a sales position in the electronics field, with a business looking for someone with twelve years’ experience in the industry and is good at……………..”
- “I am looking for a part-time job with a small business in Somerset West that needs someone who relates well to people, is good on the telephone, who likes solving problems and gets things done. I do bookkeeping to trial balance. I enjoy being busy and am good at managing many things at the same time”.
- Career Objective Step 3: Add the skills you are good at and want to offer.
You need to be specific about what you CAN DO.
Saying that you are “passionate about people” isn’t enough. Nor will “I am looking for a challenge and an opportunity to add value to a world class organisation that is going places and pays well”, or “I am detail-focused, deadline-driven and multitask well”.
What you want to do here is tell them WHAT you are doing when you are detail-focused, multi-tasking and meeting a challenge.
Here is an example:
“I would like a position with a small business in the Northern Suburbs that is looking for an organised administrator who can build relationships with customers, resolve queries, organise and file information as well as create professional documents, letters and presentations”.
- Career Objective Step 4: Add a brief clause that indicates why you may be good candidate.
Saying you love people and learning is not helpful; you need to say why you would be a good candidate. This could be the experience you have, or your approach to the role.
“I have more than twelve years’ experience as a sales and administration assistant and work well independently.”
- Career Objective Step 5: Focus on the needs of a potential employer.
You need to make it clear how you can help a potential employer.
Your objective in your CV may look something like this:
“I am looking for a customer services position within a manufacturing company in Cape Town that is looking for someone with twelve years’ experience in developing client relationships, resolving client issues and communicates well with clients in writing and on the phone. I love solving problems, enjoy challenges and new learning opportunities. My career is important to me and I would like a position that allows me to also learn and grow.”
Your objective in your own words may have looked something like this:
“I want to work in the manufacturing industry in Cape Town. I would like to travel no more than an hour from home. I want to work for a company that is growing and has a good reputation. I am a hard-working individual who enjoys work. I am excellent at meeting deadlines. I want to use my strong organizational skills and my ability to work well with people. I want to help develop client relationships and resolve client issues. I communicate well in writing around customer service issues. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years and am ready for a new challenge that will grow my career. I love problem solving and perform well under pressure. I love learning and it’s important for me to be growing personally.”
3. Align your experience
You can now list the experience you have that supports your objective.
This is not the time for false modesty or inflating your experience to look good. Dizzy Dean from the Baseball Hall of Fame said; ‘It ain’t bragging if you can back it up’.
Your task here is to align your experience to support your objective. Your experience will include formal jobs, voluntary work you have done in your community or projects you were actively involved in. You also need to be able to verbalise how you were involved.
List your experience by starting with your most recent role. This is not a job description so only provide the years you were there, the name of your employer and the position you held. If the job title is not specific enough to describe the role, then add a short descriptive phrase in brackets. It may look something like this:
2007 – 2017: Daisy Chain Travel. Financial Director (UK)
2003 – 2006: Red Poppy Tours. Financial Manager (USA)
1998 –2002: Goose Airways. Bookkeeper and Budget Controller
1996 – 1997: Own business. Bookkeeping services to small businesses
1990 – 1995: The Plane Truth Charter Company. Bookkeeper
Since the purpose of the CV is to get an interview, the specific details of the jobs can be provided in the interview itself, or you can provide that on subsequent pages if you want to. They should then be in the same order you listed them, starting with your most recent position.
4. Share Qualifications and Training
Here is your chance to share what you know and know about. You can list qualifications, training, and any informal learning that serves your objective.
What you know is not only learned through formal qualifications.
We learn new skills and acquire new knowledge with every experience we have in life, whether at home or at work. Think about how each could potentially add value to the employer and also serve your objective.
Consider what to leave in or out. If you are applying for a financial accountant role, perhaps you could leave the flower arranging course out. On the other hand, it provides a lovely piece of information about you and the kind of hobbies you pursue that make you a whole person. We are more than the work we do.
You can therefore include:
- Formal qualifications (provide the name of the institution and year only if you want to).
- Any training you may have done that you believe is relevant.
- Anything you learned as part of your life experience that may be relevant.
- Knowledge you have gained about a relevant field of work.
- Any learning and development you may currently be busy with that shows you to be a learner.
Decide how you will order your qualifications, training and knowledge. The purpose is to present it so that it supports your objective. So, unless your school subjects support your objective, listing subjects is not necessary. If you are applying for a senior executive position, the courses you did in WORD and EXCEL have probably done their time. If however, you have advanced skills that bring value to the role, don’t leave them out.
5. Tell them about you
“So, tell me about yourself” is one of those predictable questions you will have to answer in some form or other.
This is where you tell the prospective employer what makes you a suitable and preferred candidate, and one worth having a conversation with – that is after all the goal.
This section is NOT an invitation to share your age, waistline, the gruesome details of your divorce or how badly you were treated in your last job.
It does however invite you talk about the kind of person you are, what things are important to you and what an employer can expect to see if you end up working together. It is an opportunity to share who you are.
They will find out what you are like when you have been there a while anyway, so you may as well tell them now.
This is where you can present behavioural characteristics that you may have been tempted to put in your objective; attributes like passion, detail-oriented or that you are driven by challenge.
Those are still a bit vague, but they can be used here once you have refined them.
If you can’t resist a challenge, say so; ‘I simply can’t resist a challenge. If someone tells me I can’t do something, then I am even more determined’.
Also, consider saying what you are not good at. If you don’t do admin well, say so! “I am not a fast worker, but am very deliberate, and I value quality. This sometimes frustrates those who want things done quickly without considering the impact.”
You may, for example, not enjoy routine administrative work. Now, that doesn’t mean you may not be good at it, but it is not what you want to spend your day doing. You may however be good at managing projects, initiating change or solving problems. If an employer were looking for a manager in the administrative area, it would not be a good call for either of you. It would also not free you up to do work you are good at and enjoy more.
If you don’t have any weaknesses, find yourself a good therapist. No-one is perfect, not even you, and being perfect is not required. What is required is excellence, contribution and making a difference. Give up needing to be good at everything.
Here are some questions you may be asked about yourself:
- So, what kind of person are you?
- What describes you as a person?
- What makes you different to the next person who has the same qualifications and experience?
- What have you learned about yourself through assessments you may have done?
- What feedback have you received from others?
- What do you value in life?
- What is your greatest weakness?
Here are some ideas for your own personal paragraph:
“I can’t resist a challenge, so what really fires me up…”
“I am good at, and enjoy solving customer problems….”
“I don’t do chaos well, I like to organise things so they can be found…”
Examples of personal statements
Here are some interesting personal paragraphs taken from John Kotter’s book The New Rules. The personal comments are from Harvard MBA Graduates.
Michael Lender, President and COO of PRX Services, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1990-1993): “Raising a child with a serious learning disability has been exasperating at times, but it has also taught me a great deal about the world and myself, and it has drawn me closer to my family.” (1984)
Barry Forman, President Founder and Owner of Wilco Consulting (Oil field/financial services): “On the whole I am optimistic and do not lack confidence. These characteristics plus the fact that I am ambitious make me a rather strong-willed person. My drive and ambition tend to make me impatient towards myself and others. In trying to reach a goal I sometimes become self-centered and overlook the feelings and needs of other people.” (1972)
Martha Pennings, Co-founder and President Hodskin, Pennings & Co (Investment Bank): “I basically wanted to be independent and self-supporting. I wanted to make my own course. I also got the point at the Bank of Massachusetts that I had learned a lot, and I was learning less and less as time went on. I saw an opportunity, so made the switch.” (1983)
Patrick Hayes, President and Owner P.Hayes Ventures, Portland, Oregon: “I give the arrogant incompetent no recognition, and am unsympathetic to those who resign themselves to mediocrity. The man who strives gains my respect, even if it be for something antagonistic to my interests” (1974).
Example of a starter CV
Here is a one-page CV my son did when he left school. He had just started his training as a pilot, but also wanted to do some work and earn some money. He had some options. He did hospitality studies at school and is an excellent waiter and host, so he would do well in a restaurant or conference business. But he loved the flying school and it seemed worth a ‘shot’ as they say. Here is his one page CV that got him a job, in fact three: One in their office during the week. Another doing night duty putting lights on the runway (and earning more because of overtime) and then once he had a private licence, to ferry planes between small airports. Not only does it pay, but it’s where he wants to be and where he can connect with others in the industry.
Name and contact details:
George Bramley (with mail and mobile numbers)
I am looking for a duty pilot or other support role in the aviation industry as I want experience in this sector. I am busy with my Commercial Pilots License and hope to further my career. I am good at practical tasks, fixing things, dealing with people and solving problems. I am good at organizing and managing.
2011 to 2014 Abbotts College Century Gate including practical Hospitality Elective
Help with catering and office maintenance for Career Warriors©
Worked on a farm every December for the past 4 years
Matriculation with Bachelors pass NSC (English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Geography, History and Hospitality Studies) Abbotts College, Testimonial attached
Private Pilots License at Cape Town Flight Training Centre
Honours in Fine Dine Waitering from the International Hotel School
Level 1 First Aid with Dynamikos
SA Drivers License
My passion in life is aviation, I love flying and airports. I enjoy doing practical things. I am very independent and enjoy working on my own but I am also good at dealing with people in a friendly and diplomatic way. I am able to get things done and work calmly in a crisis. I bring a positive and enthusiastic attitude into the workplace.
More than one page?
When you have more than one page: ‘What do I do with the rest of the information?’ you may ask.
Well, if you want, or need a longer CV, you can add the additional information, but be careful to do so without losing the advantage you have already gained.
The page you have created remains your front page and provides a framework for the rest of your document. You can now use that as an outline for the rest of your document. If it only gets read for 30 seconds, the whole story is already there; the rest simply builds on it.
Your second page presents information about your most recent position. This can include responsibilities and job requirements or anything else you want to add. The next page provides information about the position you had before that, and so on. The following page provides details of qualifications, training and other learning. On the last page you can provide some insight into yourself; this may include what drives you, what is important to you, special interests, awards, affiliations and anything else that can provide some insight into you as a person.
You can also use the last page to provide a list of references if you have reached a stage in the employment process where this is appropriate and you are willing to share them. You may not want people to be contacted unless your application has potential for you and it’s a role you actually want!
A more complex CV
A highly qualified engineer contacted me with this mail (names have been changed)
I received your information from Marlene Erasmus who lectures at the Business School. I have a career spanning 28 years and I need professional assistance in packaging my expertise in a condensed portfolio.
My credentials are often used in large tenders and projects and my current CV spans 36 pages! I am currently involved in a few high profile projects locally and internationally and I am wondering if you can assist me as this is a real daunting task.
Please contact me. Gerhardt Prinsloo* (*not his real name, but with grateful thanks for allowing me to use this information in my book of which this is an excerpt)
Within a few days I received the documents he had so far.
There were 7 CV files, in a combination of formats covering 146 pages. We reduced this to 5 pages by using the formula I have just shared with you with a clear objective and robust information to support it.
Name and contact details
Gerhardt Prinsloo (with email address, mobile number and LinkedIn reference)
This included a small, professional photograph in the top left-hand corner.
My objective is to lead business growth in technically complex environments. I am a business project strategist with a highly successful track record in portfolio project management and would like to manage projects for corporations and governments internationally. I am drawn to business improvement projects that create new opportunities and that seek to optimise the utilisation of capital and people. My strongest skills are identifying business problems and constraints, finding viable and sustainable solutions and combining that with strong implementation. I want to work with organisations that are looking for someone with more than 20 years of senior leadership experience and who effectively develops people and teams.
2009 – 2019 IEC (Project and Business Consulting); Primary Consultant (projects outlined on page 2)
2008 – 2009 Garibaldi Construction, Italy (Project Management in the Hospitality Industry); General Manager
2007 – 2008 APG Projects (Project Management in the Mining Industry); General Manager
2005 – 2007 APG Projects (Project Management in the Mining Industry); Senior Project Manager
2001 – 2005 Batman Industries (Project Management in the Mining Industry); Senior Project Manager
2000 – 2001 RNB Trading 21 CC (Management Services Supplier); Member
1999 – 2000 Africa Industries, Southern Africa (Equipment Supplier); General Manager
1998 – 1999 USDA (Steel fabricator and erector); Projects director
1996 – 1998 Big Stuff (Steel producing industry); Various positions – Engineer in training to Divisional Manager
Masters’ Degree in Engineering Management (Technical MBA); ; Professional Engineer SA; B Eng. Mechanical, IPMA LEVEL-A CERTIFICATION; Professional Construction Project Manager, SACPCPM; Government Certificate of Competency: Factories SA; Jonah
I have been leading people for as long as I can remember. This has been in sport as well as in my professional and personal life. I have the ability to create strategic vision, but am a business leader that believes his success depends on being close to the action and the people.
It is important for me to see tangible results. I am able to combine the big picture with attention to whatever details may be required to execute a project successfully. I am easily bored by planning for its own sake or repetitive administration. I am an ongoing learner with a curious mind.
I believe I have good insight into what I am good at and what I don’t know or can’t do. I like to work on projects where I can think, make decisions and drive projects that are not limited by unnecessary constraints and short term thinking. I am adventurous in spirit. I am an active sports enthusiast and enjoy restoring 4X4 vehicles and driving into remote areas.
I am married to Liezl who is involved in managing my business. We both enjoy working internationally and being exposed to new cultures.
The internet has become an inextricable part of life, so whatever you put online, becomes a part of your CV.
Employers will often Google you before they read your CV and before they see you.
You may therefore want to consider what information about you has been shared online, and what you put on the internet in the future. If the only online picture of you is of you lying across the table at a staff function like you’ve been in a car accident, that doesn’t create a great image. If that’s all there is online, then that is all other people see.
Consider to what extent your LinkedIn profile, if you use it, communicates your current offering.
If all your header says is , ‘looking for an opportunity’, then perhaps you have confused this with a dating site?
Here are some things to consider around social media and your online presence:
- If you avoid social media, you or your business may be invisible to those who need you.
- Since whatever you put online also forms a part of your CV, check spelling and grammar on your professional profile,
- Check that the pictures of yourself are what you would be happy to see on a presentation at a work conference.
- Check that your profile accurately reflects what you do, and that it’s up to date.
- Be selective about the symbols, pictures and articles you post on your pages. Don’t just post them for the sake of posting something.
- Make sure that offensive or judgmental comments you make are not alienating the people that you want to connect with and influence positively.
- Protect your social media pages from unwanted posts by other people.
- Professional network sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are powerful tools, so learn how to use those you decide to use so that they work for you.
- No matter how active you are on social media, you still have to actively market yourself to people who may need you. Just because you are always visible on social media, or writing blogs, doesn’t guarantee employment or doing business with anyone.
- Don’t expect your social media presence to build relationships on its own; you have to actively connect with people to build sustainable real relationships.
Using a prescribed outline
If you are putting your CV online you will have to follow the format provided.
If you are working through an agency, they will generally have their own format – yours will however provide the content you want them to use.
If you are filling in an application form at a company that requires a particular format, then that’s what you need to do.
You can use your one-pager as a cover letter if there is an opportunity to do that.
When you are self-employed or run a business
If you are self-employed or have a small business, your CV should be no different to the CV of someone applying for a position with an organisation. The only difference is that you are now looking for more than one employer.
Over the years I have attended many small-business breakfast functions. At many of them, business owners are invited to present what they do. Many have difficulty explaining what they do and how they are different from the person who spoke before them. Sometimes even they look unsure about what they sell.
If you can’t communicate clearly what you do, how should anyone else know?
Here is your one-page format as a business:
- CONTACT DETAILS (of your business)
Think about the face of your business, whether it is your phone, the internet or your front desk. Can prospective clients easily find you?
- OBJECTIVE (of your business)
When clients do find you, does your offering make sense?
Why are you in business? What problems do you want to solve for your clients? What do you do well? What would make you a preferred provider of what you offer? Where can you add specific value?
What do you do that makes you a business of choice?
- EXPERIENCE (of your business)
Do you have any projects or clients that provide evidence that what you do is not just a dream, or something you have created with no experience at all?
- QUALIFICATIONS AND CREDENTIALS (of your business)
What qualifications does your business have? What credentials can you offer? What affiliations and information have you gained, that makes you a specialist in your field? How have you kept up with industry trends or needs in the marketplace?
- PERSONAL (What you can expect from our business)
Describes how you operate as a business and why clients may like dealing with you.
What words describe how you operate? What is your style of operating? What describes how people will experience your business?
Every business has its own personality. Perhaps as you think about your business, words that come to mind are fun, responsive, driven by quality, designed to meeting individual client needs, loves problem solving or loves meeting challenges. What are your weaknesses or areas you don’t do well and what do you do instead, or how do you solve those?
Consider every piece of work you do as your CV. The last meeting you had with your client is your CV. Your brochure, your website, your blog and your sophisticated social media presence can end up meaning very little when you fail to deliver what you say you do. Word of mouth is also your CV.
If you arrive late, don’t meet commitments, make excuses for delivery or deliver as much and only as much as you are paid for, the length of your blog or your social media activity may not matter.
The reality is that if the clients don’t want to see you again, what you say about your business doesn’t matter.
Keeping your CV up to date
Your CV is not your birth or marriage certificate. If your CV looks the same as it did five years ago, maybe you have just done the same year five times over. That’s OK too, but if you have grown, have new experience and learned new things, you will need to say so.
Your CV is an ongoing, ever-changing document. It will change as you become more experienced. It will change as your interests change or you discover new ones. It will change as your skills develop, as your life changes, as your needs change and as new opportunities present themselves in the workplace.
A good CV on its own won’t get you your dream job, but now that you know what you are offering and why you would be a good candidate, you are ahead of the pack.
The goal, after all, is not to write a CV but to find work that matters to you and to find someone to pay you to do that. That means you want a conversation with someone who is looking for someone like you and has the power to hire you.
You may only get to present your CV verbally.
So, when you walk in the door, you are your CV.
The quality of the last piece of work you did is your CV.
The attitude you bring is your CV, so make sure you are a good ambassador for yourself.
If you don’t have an objective
I have received CV’s that actually say “any job will do”. Others don’t say that in so many words but the way they are structured says, “Guess what I can do for you, can’t you see my qualifications?”
Albert Einstein said that “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.
Communicating what you do, clearly and persuasively, is what gets even the biggest businesses to pay huge amounts of money to agencies and media companies. So you are not alone.
If you don’t know what you want, or what you have to offer, then you need other kind of help. Read our other blogs, do some of our free conversations, or give us a call.
©Andrew Bramley, Career Warriors® 2019. All Rights Reserved.