Ensuring your CV is fit for purpose

29 Nov 2018

Ensuring your CV is fit for purpose

A well-written CV makes a strong first impression and demonstrates that you know what you want.

A quick Google search for tips on how to write a CV generates over 100 million results. Yet despite all the help and advice out there, every year we see hundreds of CVs that are not up to scratch. 

Shortcomings such as glaring omissions, vagueness where detail is called for and misjudgements in tone or language will undermine your chances of landing a C-suite level position. So check your CV is truly fit for purpose before submitting it.

In the second of our Career Strategies series of articles, here are the key areas of your CV to address.

Be up-to-date and easily contactable

We store your information and CV on a database to ensure we can find your contact details quickly when we want to talk to you about an interesting role. Therefore, make sure your contact details are clearly displayed on the front page.

It’s surprising how many people provide email and LinkedIn accounts they don’t access on a regular basis.

Be sure to check for messages frequently and don’t forget to update us as soon as your contact details change.

Position yourself with a summary

Boil down your career objectives and/or experience into three bullet points. Use these as a positioning statement at the top of your CV. Your aim is to entice a target employer to read on.

Clarify scope and scale

The scope and scale of your experience to date is of critical importance when assessing your suitability for C-suite roles, as clients often demand that potential candidates have provided leadership in a business of relevant size and scale. 

Give a brief description of each company you have worked for, indicating its turnover, employee count, international reach and industry sector.

There are further questions to consider. Have you shown your position in the reporting hierarchy for each position? Do you provide an insight into the size of your team and budget responsibility in each role?

Don’t forget to highlight what you’ve achieved, not only what you were responsible for.

Contribution across the leadership team

Clients don’t just want someone who can do the designated job, they are looking for individuals who can contribute across the leadership team. With that in mind, use language in your CV that reflects the breadth of your capabilities.

Don’t restrict yourself to words like “led” and “managed”. Verbs such as “initiated”, “created”, “designed”, “implemented”, “achieved” and “delivered” offer greater insights into your overall ability to contribute.

Give some serious thought to the requirements of the role you want to fulfil. Have you tailored the experience you highlight to show you have the capabilities necessary to do your next role, not just your current role?

Demonstrate your achievements

Clients are interested in individuals with a demonstrable track record of success, both professionally and personally. Be specific when addressing your achievements.

Quantify your contribution with illuminating figures.

For example, by giving the precise percentage increase or savings achieved, or the actual total figure realised in pounds, dollars or euros.  Again, think carefully about the vocabulary you use to frame your successes. Include words like “acquired”, “calculated”, “negotiated” or “represented” if they are relevant and help illustrate the level of your success.

Reflecting your personal brand

When we present you as a potential candidate to our clients, we provide them with our own written assessment of your suitability for the position as well as with a copy of your CV. 

Are you confident that your CV reflects your personal brand? 

Consider its layout and presentation. For example, is it clear and concise? Or cluttered and ambiguous?

Ideally, you should tailor your CV to the role. Use the job description as a guide for prioritising your experience. You want the client to conclude you’re a strong match.

Getting to that interview

A well-written CV that highlights where you can add significant value makes a strong first impression and sets you apart.

By demonstrating you know what you want, you’ll place yourself front-of-mind for the roles you’re targeting.

Ensuring your CV is fit for purpose puts you in the running for new opportunities. Not only will it go a long way towards getting you through the door, but it should also be helpful during an interview. Time spent reflecting on and articulating your key skills and experience provides a solid foundation upon which to talk about the value you will bring to a new employer.

In the next article in this series, we’ll be helping you write a persuasive cover letter and how to avoid the common mistakes that could put you out of the running.

To read more about Career Strategies:

Visit the full Career Strategies page