Sunday night greetings everyone! I’m currently in the middle of writing a module on CVs (for a project I’m working on with The Excellent You) and it dawned on me that I had stumbled upon some stuff that might be of value for you guys.
All too often, CVs are the sort of thing we bury at the bottom of our crap drawer, underneath the Haynes manual for a Fiesta we sold back in 1993. We only pull it back out when we’re looking for a new job. And even then – if you’re anything like me – it’s merely a quick dust down, spot of tippex over the coffee stain, into an envelope and out the door. Job done!
But as I’ve been constructing this development session, I’ve realised just how important your CV can be… and not just for getting that one job. So I thought I’d quickly share two of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
CV or personal marketing?
I’ve always thought of a CV like one of those magical expandable towels… you know, the ones that start off like a small block, but extend to the size of a small parachute when placed in water. And I suppose that’s what our CV sort of is, the dry expandable towel of our professional lives. The dunking in water comes when you get to interview 😉
It’s this expandable towel (otherwise known as a condensed professional summary) which opens the doors to jobs, interviews and opportunities. It’s the first – maybe only – glimpse a potential employer has of us before they decide whether to give us a chance or stop us in our tracks. But it’s more than simply weighing up whether we’ve got good GCSE’s or enough experience working in retail… it’s also what they use to make judgments about who we are.
For example, can they trust what we say if we declare we have a “strong attention to detail” while managing to spell our own surname wrong? Similarly, does “communicates well with stakeholders and customers” slightly lose its edge when our CV is littered with abbreviations and technical terms that even Stephen Hawking would struggle to understand?
This one little document is far more than an account of our professional lives… it’s our own personal marketing document. It doesn’t simply list our experiences, it’s our opportunity to reflect our personal brand and influence the person reading it.
So next time you’re tweaking your CV, keep in mind… what are you sharing about who you are; as a person and as a professional?
Use your CV to drive & navigate your career
Most of us think of our CV as a glimpse into the past. And I suppose that’s natural, considering how it captures our history – the jobs we’ve undertaken, exams we’ve passed, experience and skills we’ve gained along the way.
But this week, it’s really dawned on me how a CV can also offer advice and insight into the future. In fact a CV can be a powerful platform for future achievements. Don’t believe me? Try this:
- Start with your aspirational job/role.
- List the ideal skills, experience, requirements etc for that job/role.
- Now look at your CV and compare.
- Identify the gaps.
Those gaps are your future goals! Those skills, that experience, all that stuff you’ve identified, now need to be on your personal/professional development plan.
So the next time your boss asks you if you can carry on looking after the shift without any extra pay, you’ll rip that offer right out of his hands because it’s no longer a case of “slave driver Larry” taking the mick, it’s now a valuable opportunity for you to gain some evidence & experience in “managing others”.
Easy Peasy, Sparkling CV
I’d really love to hear about your CVs! Are they like mine & stuck somewhere on your shelf, behind that old Bunty annual from 1982? Is yours so fabulous that you have a fantastic success rate? Or do you struggle to sell yourself and your experience?
Let me know – I’d really love to help!
Watch this space for some upcoming Survive at Work e-Learning modules… including Creating an Awesome CV 🙂