Career Advice – Your CV
- CV from a Hiring Manager’s Perspective
- Top 10 CV Tips
- CV Cover Letter
- Using Keywords on a CV
- Top 10 CV Mistakes
- Should You Post Your CV on Job Boards
1. CV from a Hiring Manager’s Perspective
What do recruiters and hiring managers look for in a CV? There are a lot of opinions on the subject. Your approach to CV writing should focus on the objective in mind: to secure an interview with companies that interest you. To understand what appeals to this audience its instructive to look at the CV from the recruiter/hiring manager’s point of view.
Most recruiters/hiring managers are usually overwhelmed with CVs after placing an advert for a vacancy. Only a small percentage (5-10%) will result in an actual phone interview. It is important to understand that the first criteria for a good CV is to clearly highlight skills and accomplishments. If you make it difficult to identify your achievements, bury your skills in unnecessary verbiage or fail to highlight performance and progress your CV will quickly be set aside. Therefore construct your CV in a way that highlights your results and the progress you have made in your career to date. An exception to this rule would be when applying for highly technical sales positions. Since these roles require a degree of attention to detail, recruiters/hiring managers will be looking for this detail.
CONTENT – When looking at a sales CV, hiring managers want to see sales performance. You are interviewing for a sales job so what have you managed to sell? Show % of quota sold, list large accounts you have sold to, rankings, promotions, awards, etc. If you work for an unknown company, give a short description of the product sold and the target market (company size, job title of prospects, size of deals, etc). In essence, this is not about WHAT you have done but HOW WELL you have done it.
It is always useful to tailor your CV to a particular position or company if you know what skills and requirements are needed. For example, if applying for an account management position handling 20 large accounts, don’t highlight your cold-calling experience. Look at your background and find the experience that transfers to the position that you are applying for. Another tip is to write your CV to appeal to the type of position that you want to get. If you are more open, then emphasize your sales performance.
If you have less than 5 years overall experience, keep the CV to one page and use bullet points to emphasize your accomplishments. Certain qualities, such as communications skills, need to be demonstrated in person during the interview.
To summarize, write your CV for your intended audience, emphasize performance and results and keep the look of the CV clean and readable
2. Top 10 CV Tips
- Always put your best foot forward: Highlight your skills, accomplishments, awards, cold-calling skills, percent to quota, large accounts, success stories, etc. Explain your position and ensure you quantify all of your accomplishments in bullet form.
- Make it visually appealing: Do not clutter your CV with difficult to read language. Keep it simple and in chronological order
- Have an objective: Start your CV with a clear, concise objective and then move on to your current position. However, if you are fairly new to the workforce, your education should be right underneath your objective.
- Use active language: Begin each sentence with an action verb and remember to use the proper tense — present tense for your current job, past tense for past jobs.
- Keep it short and simple: Best results are achieved with a one or two page CV that is applicable to the position you are applying for.
- Be confident: The CV is not the place to be humble. Make sure all of your accomplishments are highlighted.
- Keep it professional: avoid personal information such as age, health, hobbies, or marital status.
- The purpose of a CV is not to land the job but to achieve an interview. Therefore tailor the CV to the position in order to achieve an interview.
- False Information: Everything you put on your CV should be capable of being supported by documentary proof, if so required. If you cannot document it or provide sufficient proof best to leave it off the CV
- Avoid using fluff language: Self-motivated, hands-on team player with a proven track record, energetic and outgoing sales person, etc. These are just filler words and will detract from your accomplishments
3. CV Cover Letter
The purpose of the cover letter is to summarize why you would be the best candidate for the position that you are applying for and to also further explain details on your CV that may call your candidacy into question, such as gaps in your career or a brief stint with a particular employer.
A typical structure for a cover letter is 3-4 paragraphs. Ensure it is addressed correctly to the intended recipient
Paragraph 1: Explain how you learnt about the opening along with some basic information about yourself.
Paragraph 2: Explain why you are interested in the position and your relevant accomplishments. Highlight points that match the company’s hiring requirements. In this paragraph you should also explain other pertinent information on your CV. For example, if there is a 3 year career gap this would be the place to explain it. Ensure you do not repeat information that is already on your CV. Also, you can offer to provide additional documentation of success along with references and letters of recommendation.
Paragraph 3: Express your interest in having an interview for the position. Include information about availability for an interview and willingness to travel and/or relocate.
In conclusion, thank the reader for considering your CV.
4. Using Keywords on a CV
With the rise and prominence of online jobs boards such as Monster, Jobsite, Hotjobs, etc., the volume of CVs a company can receive for a particular job can be overwhelming. Because of this, employers have turned to sophisticated CV tracking databases that receive incoming CVs and filter them based on keyword matches. To give some perspective, Microsoft receives approximately 6,000 CVs each day (taken from Microsoft’s jobs blog).
Obviously, having the correct keywords on your CV can make the difference between receiving an interview and having your CV lost in a company’s database. So how do you establish which keywords employers are searching for?
Most key words are nouns that relate to the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Keywords can be job, profession or industry specific skills, specific terms or descriptions of technical expertise, job titles, certifications, names of products and services, industry jargon, degree attained, university name, company name, post codes etc, which are used to narrow searches.
Begin your keyword search by reviewing job ads that are of interest to you. Look for skills, titles, degrees and words that would be particular to that job. It might be obvious, but if you want a position in pharmaceutical sales or medical sales put that in the objective. If you want to work at a specific company, such as Microsoft, and you sold to one of their competitors put that on your CV. You can be pretty sure that they would use their competitors as one of their keywords.
Once you have an idea what keywords you want to use there are a number of ways to insert them into your CV. A simple way is to create a section called “Keywords” or “Keyword Summary” and list your keywords there. Put this section at the very bottom of your CV. A more appropriate and additional way to introduce keywords is to place them throughout your CV where appropriate. For example, “Closed $1.2m deal with Microsoft”. Microsoft is the keyword in that sentence
Once the applicant-search software finds a keyword, it ranks them according to the importance of the word to the job. Some keywords might be required and others might be considered desirable. Typically, the keywords on your CV are weighted by how many times they appear on your CV. You want to have more of the keywords that they look for and multiple occurrences for each individual keyword. Shoot for 25-35 keywords and make sure that those words that you consider most important for your CV appear a few times. When posting your CV on Internet job boards, avoid keywords that relate to sales jobs that don’t interest you. If you have had enough of cold-calling don’t list that skill ten times. Instead, pull out your account management experience in your CV.
5. Top 10 CV Mistakes
- Failure to include annual sales % to quota and ranking.
It is important to quantify your success. Managers and recruiters need to get a sense of what you have been able to accomplish in terms of increasing revenues, etc. We want to see numbers in your CV, not just words.
“grew business from £0.5M to £1M in 2012”
“Achieved 110% to quota”
- Accomplishments listed separately from the role
Some individuals like to list all their positions held in one block and then later in the CV summarize all their accomplishments from all of their different positions in another block. If the reader loses interest part-way through the CV they may not get to read your accomplishments. Moreover, because most CVs are read through fairly quickly it can be difficult to determine where certain accomplishments were attained
- Use of personal pronouns within CV
Example of what NOT to do:
“I work for a Fortune 500 company and my company is a leader in their field. I’ve achieved great success here in my current position and believe I can contribute greatly to an organization”
- Use of paragraph format vs. bullet point format
For recruiters and hiring managers alike it is more time consuming to read a CV that is in paragraph format (one long paragraph under each position held). Rather, it is better to use bullet points to list specific accomplishments and other relevant information with perhaps a brief description of the company or position.
- Making CV too long
If your total experience is less than 5 years – a 1 page CV is appropriate
If your total experience is 5 years and over – a 2 page CV is appropriate
3 or more pages is usually too long, regardless of your experience
- Not including all relevant contact information
Ensure all relevant contact information (including email) is on the CV. Ofcourse if there is a number you prefer not to be contacted on then do not include it on your CV
- No specific objective
If you have a specific objective that you are looking to achieve such as breaking into a specific industry or moving into a managerial role, state that on your CV.
- Failure to differentiate between casual/student experience from professional experience
No one wants to hire a job hopper. There are cases when a candidate appears to be unstable in their employment history. But infact, they simply did not differentiate between student holiday jobs and full time professional jobs
- Failure to include progressions with current and previous positions
For example, a CV may state that the candidate is a Sales Manager at ABC Company, but what it doesn’t show is the promotions achieved upto that role. By listing your promotions you are showing career progression
- Employment Status Not Current
If you have recently left your current employer ensure your CV does not read “2005 to Present” Recruiters/hiring managers may feel you were trying to mislead them about your current employment status.
6. Should you Post your CV on Job Boards
Most job boards such as Careerbuilder, Monster, Hot Jobs, etc. provide two services to candidates:
- apply to specific job postings
- post their CV on the job board CV database.
Your CV can be viewed by potential employers and recruiters who have paid a subscription to the site. We are frequently asked: “Should I post my CV on a job board?” To answer this question, let’s first take a look at the pros and cons of both applying to specific job postings and of posting your CV on a job board’s CV database.
A1. Applying for specific Job Postings – Pros
You have total control as to which companies or opportunities you are applying for. This allows you to be highly selective.
You are able to custom tailor your CV and your cover letter as you see fit per opportunity (assuming you know what company you are applying for).
A2. Applying for specific Job Postings – Cons
Time: depending on how many positions you are applying for this method can be fairly time intensive. Especially if you are applying for jobs posted on multiple job boards.
B1. Posting CV on Job Board CV Databases – Pros
Anyone that pays for access to the job board database (whether recruiters or hiring companies) has access to your CV, assuming they use the right search criteria to find you. Thus, there are many jobs and opportunities not advertised through postings or company career websites. This could be the only way that you’d ever know about them.
More reactive: employers and recruiters typically reach out to you via email or phone.
B2. Posting CV on Job Board CV Databases – Cons
Because anyone who pays for access can view your CV, it is likely that you will be inundated with phone calls from recruiters. This can be overwhelming at times, especially if the company you work for currently or in the past is well-known.
Lack of control. If you know that your current employer has access to the CV databases and uses them to search on a consistent basis, it may be wise not to post your CV to save an embarrassing situation of having to explain why your CV is on the database.
Making your CV Confidential
The other alternative is to make your CV confidential. To do this:
Make company name “Confidential”
Ensure your CV does not include your name, address, or anything else that may alert your employer.
Recruiters will need some form of contact information, whether phone or email.
If your name is Jane Doe, ensure your email listed is not something to the effect of Janedoe@gmail.com.
In essence, if you feel the pros outweigh the cons then post your CV on the job boards. You may be contacted about the opportunity that is the perfect fit for you