CV - what to put in and leave out
Many job seekers are uncomfortable when drafting their resume. A resume seems to be about bragging. Indeed this is true! If you cannot market yourself in a positive manner no one else will do it for you.
A resume gives the prospective employer a "snapshot" as to who
you are. This means it should be kept short. Most candidates struggle with this.
Fitting a long and varied career onto only one or two pages leaves all the
crucial elements they want to include out. So they produce a novel instead. Bare
in mind that it only takes 10 seconds for an employer to scan a resume, the
first impression they get when presented with several pages is not that great.
It may be assigned immediately to the shredder.
Although you may manage to get a neat, well presented, strategically craft, truthful and spellchecked CV in two pages of A4, having a more detailed one for your own use assists when you need to tailor a CV to a particular job for which your recent experience is not a complete match.
Keep your CV up -to-date and version control it. That is, date it or mark it so that if you correct mistakes or improve the content you can establish quickly if an agent or prospective employer has the latest version or one that is several years out of date.
Get your CV checked by a friend for grammatical, spelling and typographical errors. A CV is very personal and your option and that of others as to what to include and leave out will differ. Accept criticism as an opportunity to review your CV how others may see it, not as an attack on you or your previous career.
The biggest problem in drafting your CV is writing one that catches the attention of hiring managers. Employers are looking for capabilities and concrete examples for skills and abilities such as organisational leadership and involvement, a strong work ethic and a sense of commitment. Don't just list activities or accomplishments, include further information.
Ask the question "Why would an employer be interested in this? How does it make me more attractive to the employer? How does this show a skill or ability of mine?"
Include any awards, memberships of a committee, club or panel. Even summer jobs and academic accomplishments. When having only worked with a few employers look for tasks that were accomplished whilst doing other types of activities.
A resume is not a personal statement as some sort of self expression or even a history of your past. Certainly it covers your job history but write it with the intention of create interest to persuade the employer to call you. The resume is a sales brochure, and advertisement, nothing more, nothing less.
A great resume does what all good advertisements do, tell you what you get when you buy the product, direct benefits. It convinces the employer that you have what it takes to be successful and benefit the business. It has to inspire the prospective employer to pick up the phone and invite you to come for an interview.
To grab the prospective employer's attention all correspondence - your resume, covering letter, follow up letters - should emphasize how your skills and experience can address their specific business goals and challenges. A simple list of previous employers, job title, length of service and your responsibilities will not pique their interest enough to seek out a conversation with you.
If you have the opportunity to speak to an employee at a company where you would like to work you need to demonstrate that you understand the company's business and posses the skills they need. do some research to get a sense of what their issues are and include them in all your communications. Think how each of your past challenges were faced and the responsibilities held and relate this to the employer you are targeting. Only present those achievements that are relevant to each employer.
The job search aims to find and address the employer's needs and objectives. You might also wish to volunteer to attend a meeting, to draft a job description or prepare a presentation beyond what is required or what your resume shows.
Last updated 3rd March 2009