As Brit’s we don’t like to overtly ‘sell’ ourselves. Ours is a more reserved style; we expect the quality of the cloth to speak for itself. As your personal sales document your CV is often your initial contact with the market and as such deserves some quality attention to get the messages right.
Here are five key ‘musts’ in writing an impactful resume that people want to read:
Do invest time; audit your achievements and base your CV on these outputs. Write it yourself.
Do lead with your successes and make them quantifiable. The benefit they delivered to the business is the main attraction.
Do use simple straightforward language – ensure any audience can access the key messages.
Do keep it concise and make it accessible. Big blocks of prose, or long streams of single line bullets don’t help a reader to stick with it.
Do ensure the CV matches your career plan. Make sure it highlights the most resonant experience to the opportunity that you are pursuing.
As with everything in life balance is key, so here a some constructive Do Not’s to help hone your CV:
Don’t use a third party to write content. Push yourself to ‘show off’ your successes. Content is prime, and no-one knows these successes better than you.
Don’t list responsibilities. Your achievements are noteworthy and unique to you. Responsibilities are not. In general lists are dangerous (and lazy) they can imply a priority – which must be in tune with the demands of the role.
Don’t obsess about length. 2-3 sides of rich content is fine. Too long can be as bad as too brief.
Don’t simply stick on the most recent role at the top – edit the whole document to reflect the balance of your skills and experiences in the ‘now’.
Don’t rely on gimmicks- jazzy layouts, unusual type fonts, colour pictures & logos can all distract away from your good career content.
Ask ten people for a view on your CV and you will invariably receive more than ten perspectives back. Keep it achievement focused and heavily laced with measurable outcomes and you will never be far from hitting the mark. Hopefully in defining these successes for your resume, you are putting arrows in the quiver ready for the interviews that follow!
Matt Cockbill is a Partner, and Head of Technology & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners and is always happy to be the ‘red pen’ on getting a CV in shape!
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