If you wait till you need your CV to update it, you’ve left it too late. The year has been extra long we are pretty much fatigued and ready to call it. Only thing is, the new year is fast approaching and most of us like to start the year fresh on a clean slate and that may include a career boost. The new year also comes with plenty of new opportunities as companies set out to implement their growth plans. What I’ve noticed year in and year out is the “I need a CV now” rush. Most people are unprepared, they are reactive and we know the benefits of being proactive but somehow fail to apply them to our careers. The early bird catches the fattest worm right. Let’s not wait for a job we want to apply for to scramble last minute and try to transform an outdated CV into a winning one. Keep it current, updating your skills and experience should be an annual event.
You’re browsing Careers24 while enjoying your morning coffee and there it is, the job you’ve been dreaming of, location √, remuneration package √, your awful boss does not work there √√. Perfect! As you realise the post closes in a day, the blood drains from your face, your joyful cheer quickly turns to despair as your heart sinks to the pit of your stomach because you just realised the last time you laid eyes on your CV was 5 years ago when you joyfully started the role you are currently in, oh poop!
Somewhere in Somerset West. Mike just found out his boss is immigrating to Scotland and his post just became vacant, fantastic, HR is giving preference to internal applicants, jackpot! All Mike has to do is email his CV to the Head of HR, his old, outdated, insipid CV covered in virtual cobwebs. Yeah, good luck with that Mike!
I had lunch with my Marketing team the other day and one of the things that came up in conversation is the misconceptions around CVs. The greatest of which being “a CV is updated if and when you are looking for a job”. They shared how the one common response they get when reaching out to professionals is “Thanks, I’m not in the market right now.”
The best time I find to update a CV is around KPI review time, which is when your contribution and role achievements are fresh in your mind. Because you worked very hard to list all the things you achieved so you can demonstrate to your boss that you not only deserve an increase, but a nice fat bonus would be nice too right. So why not fully capitalise on your efforts and put in some of the accomplishments and newly acquired skills on your CV too! Do this every year and you will thank yourself one day when you don’t need to crack your skull trying to remember everything you did in the past 5 years and missing out on your critical achievements.
Some advice when putting together your CV
Don’t write for yourself, write for your future employer.
You’ve probably done well in your career and you think you are awesome, I think you are awesome too, but your prospective employer would rather read how his/her company or division would be more successful for having you as a part of it. So rather than “I am an excellent communicator” consider “I reached my targets every quarter by utilising my communications skills to effectively demonstrate product value to my clients”.
Write a killer Professional Summary.
If this is the only thing someone reads on your CV, it should be compelling enough to him/her want to invite you for an interview. Don’t waste this space on ambiguous buzzwords. Think of it this way, if you meet the president of the company you just interviewed at and he is the one who decides if you make the cut or not and he asks you “So Dave, tell me a little about yourself” and you have a minute to seal the deal, what would you say? You wouldn’t tell him what a nice guy you are right or that you are a hard worker. You’d quickly sum up your competencies and qualifications, then hit him with your value proposition. That is exactly how you should write your professional summary.
Don’t forget your skills.
Don’t just list them, demonstrate how you’ve utilised that skill to add value.
Less is more.
Fact, no one has the time or desire to read your 20-page CV, not even in the unlikely event that you were the only applicant. If you have a CV longer than 6 pages, here is what you do. Print it, read through it, all of it, don’t scan, read it the way you expect your prospective employer to read it. Now shred it to a thousand pieces and throw it in the bin. Your future boss thanks you. Now please summarise your CV and leave your life history for the book you are going to write when you retire.
There is a lot more that goes into compiling a professional CV but just by doing the above, you’ll have a great CV. If you fancy yourself a good writer you should have no trouble writing yourself an amazing CV, if you get stuck get some inspiration from Elite CV’s Tips & Advice page.
If you’d rather leave all that work for the pros, that’s fine too, you probably don’t cut your own hair or install your own security so go ahead and outsource.
Elite CV has branded thousands of the finest Executives and Professionals around the world and continues to add value to its clients’ individual career journeys.