Are you strategic about your CV?

Are you strategic about your CV?

When we receive a great CV, it’s a pleasure to read. And it’s far more likely to get shortlisted.

As the year ends, now is the perfect time to reflect on your approach.

Are you strategic, or do you simply compile a list of achievements?

This article helps you understand how to be strategic about creating an effective and engaging CV that will open the right doors for you.

Know your value

Even if you’re not applying for new opportunities right now, take time to consider whether you can be more strategic next time.

Your value has two levels. Firstly, your core values in life. Secondly, the value you can offer employers. These are not separate. When they align, you’ll be more fulfilled in your career.

Consider what matters to you in life. Your beliefs and principles. Your way of doing things. Your likes and dislikes. These should steer your career choices so you feel energetic about what you’re doing – not drained.

Your personal narrative – brand, if you like – shapes what you stand for and what you’re able to offer organisations.

Instead of relying on a list of past roles or experiences, consider these questions:

What are your strengths?

What drives you?

What’s important to you?

What would friends say about you?

What skills can you offer?

You’re creating a personal profile that’ll help recruiters see beyond your work experience and holistically understand you instead. It’ll help them join the dots between who you are and what they need from a candidate.

Starting with greater self-awareness, you’ll be clearer about what you can offer at a higher level.

Know your audience

Should you create a bespoke CV for each role? Absolutely.

Gone are the days of using the same document for each role you apply for. Especially at executive or Board level.

Also, it’s far easier to research both the business, and the people, you’re applying to now. Consider them your target audience – because that’s exactly what they are.

Put in the effort if you want to make a difference to your future.

Always use opportunities to contact the company or the recruitment agency with your questions. Few people do and yet it’s a fantastic way to learn more ‘from the horse’s mouth’.

You can also learn a huge amount online. Not just from the company’s website, but other sources such as social media, press coverage, and review sites. Look at their competitors too.

As for the people you’d work with, chances are, they’re on LinkedIn. So, have a look and learn more about them. What are they talking about?

Research helps you understand the company’s challenges and goals. How can you help them overcome hurdles and achieve the success they want? That’s exactly what they want to know.

Prove your worth

“I’m the ideal candidate for this position…”

“So what?” they’re thinking. How could they possibly know unless you prove it?

Just like any commercial situation, they want to know what’s in it for them. You can wax lyrical about your achievements, but if they can’t see evidence AND relevance, it means little.

So, you’re great at motivating a team – how can you demonstrate this?

Maybe you build sales quickly – can you give examples?

Never leave ‘so what’s’ in your CV because each one is an opportunity for you to be overlooked.

Also, ensure your LinkedIn profile (you do have one, don’t you?) aligns with your value. And remember to review your recent content too. Inconsistencies leave recruiters feeling uncomfortable.

Do your profile and CV reflect the same strengths and values?

Provide evidence that your worth is real. By doing so, you’re a lower risk to consider.

CV writing techniques that work

Think of your CV like a proposal. Focus on the benefits and outcomes you can deliver. Whilst the content is about you, highlight how you can help them.

CVs have historically been retrospective. But the world is moving on quickly. Show what you can do for them in the future – don’t just focus on the past.

A mindset shift in this way is incredibly powerful.

As you’ll create a bespoke CV for each application, align both the content and the tone to the business in question. Can you embrace their language? How can you show you suit their culture?

Look back at your research and see what you can draw on.

To gain attention for the right reasons, perfecting your headline statement is crucial.

Ensure it’s no more than four lines and sum up two things concisely:

  1. The extent of your relevant achievements
  2. How you can help them

Your headline must instantly resonate with them. Your words must spark interest and positivity in seconds.

Take time to get your headline right. Create several draft versions. You’ll probably spend longer on it than the rest of your CV!

Avoid common pitfalls

They might seem obvious – almost funny – but they’re also incredibly common. Don’t let it be you.

Wrong contact details

Is your application addressed to the correct recruitment agency, or one you’ve previously applied to? You’d be amazed how often we see this. Whilst it doesn’t seem that significant, it demonstrates poor attention to detail.

Bad grammar and typos

When you’re applying for a high-level role, this reflects badly. It shouldn’t happen. If you need help with your words (many of us do) seek help so you’re pin sharp on grammar.

Inconsistent LinkedIn profile

Recruiters will always review your profile so it’s important you ensure it’s up to date and reflecting the same experience and skills. Anomalies create questions, which can hinder your progress.

Conflict of interest

If you think you might have one, talk to us first. Ignoring it lacks integrity. Far better to deal with it transparently.

Cramming everything in

An ideal CV is two to three pages, presented without cramming it all in or using a small font. If it doesn’t fit, perhaps you’re saying too much? Keep some space around your words so it’s easy to read.

Your career is a big picture

Think beyond a tick list of achievements. Take time to consider your future career aspirations and the overall value you provide.

Apply for opportunities that fit your strategic goals and understand how the value you offer could help the organisation go forward.

Most importantly, communicate this clearly. Join the dots.

By doing so, you’ll achieve far more progress with your applications and discover greater fulfilment as your career develops in the right direction.