On February 2nd I attended an event entitled “How to create a killer CV in just 4 words”, which was organised by the recently-formed LISNetwork. Over the years I’ve seen lots of CV-writing training offered, but what particularly attracted me to this one was the description: “What are the four words that will turn a good CV into a killer CV? Come and discover how to really make your CV work for you.”
This was a fantastic session, and mostly I was far too busy listening and thinking to make any notes, but the following is based on my recollections, things which made the strongest impression on upon me at the time, and one or two things I did manage to jot down. I hope I’m not revealing any trade secrets!
- Basically the idea is to make your CV so compelling that whoever reads it feels that they must invite you to an interview. Information needs to be well-organised and clearly laid out, and there absolutely mustn’t be any typos or other errors – get other people to proof-read for you.
- Everything on the person spec needs to be accounted for so that you tick all their boxes. You should also try to reflect the tone of the job description, ideally use the organisational website to see what kind of person they might be looking for, and use similar language/vocabulary yourself.
- The opening descriptive passage of your CV is super-important as often a recruiter will only read about half of the first page (think about it in terms of what appears above the fold on a webpage). This should be written in the third person and draw on things which are genuinely your key qualities, but make sure that the qualities selected align you with the job spec.
- In the body of your CV it is important to back everything up with evidence – don’t just say what you do/did but describe your skill, provide a scenario in which you’ve used it, and then outline the success of the result.
- We had quite a discussion about whether or not to include hobbies/other activities – the general feeling was that a carefully-selected example or two can work to your advantage (especially if they further serve to align you with the organisation) but try not to include anything too far-out or banal!
- LinkedIn is apparently being used more and more by recruiters, who search the site for keywords, so making sure that your profile is up to date is crucial. Even if you aren’t currently looking for a new job it’s a good idea to maintain this, as you never know where the next opportunity is likely to come from! Also, if you’re using the site for more general networking purposes it makes sense to present yourself in the best possible way from the outset.
We were also encouraged to make the most of every opportunity for learning, development and networking. Other than events organised by the LISNetwork (some of which I’ll certainly be going to), the programme hosted by the City Business Library also came highly recommended. I was vaguely aware of the latter, and on further investigation I see they offer a fantastic range of events, so something else to keep in mind.
Since attending the session I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile and drafted an opening paragraph for my CV – I realise that this will need to be amended each time I want to use the CV but I wanted to get some thoughts down whilst this was all fresh in my mind! I will also be starting work on the CV for my Chartership portfolio reasonably soon, so this will all come in handy then too, and I’m hoping that putting together a longer annotated CV for the portfolio will help me in organising my information into a good format for future use too.
Huge thanks to Kathy, Susie and Alex for organising and leading this, and for going ahead with the event despite a small audience. I do hope the LISNetwork continues to grow and prosper – maybe I’ll see you there!
Oh, and the four words which will make your CV into a killer are qualities, skills, attributes and achievements. As long as you’ve got some of all of these you should be streets ahead 🙂
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