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Three Steps to CV Success

Posted by on October 7, 2015

By The Careers Group.
The Royal Society of Biology is running a CV and Interview Skills Workshop in partnership with The Careers Group, University of London, on 3rd December 2015.

Most people find it a challenge to write a good CV. The temptation to just update an existing version is strong, so your 2015 CV is just a longer version of your 2014 CV , which in turn is a longer version of … you know where this is heading. And it’s not heading towards the results you want. You want an interview, to secure a conversation with a contact, you want a (new) job. You’re going to write a CV which secures your future. So it makes sense that you write it with that future in mind. Before you reach for your laptop to dust off an existing CV, stop and look ahead by doing these things:

Step 1: Look ahead

  • Applying for a particular job? Examine the job description and related details with an open mind and a forensic eye. What are they looking for? Highlight the key items. Notice the language used. Don’t have a specific job you’re applying for? Use one of your favourite online jobsearch sites to find an example role, and then:
  • Get curious about the reputation of the organisation you want to work for in the future. What’s on their own website? How do they feature in press reports? Any industry awards? What do independent rating sites such as Glassdoor have to say?

Talk to others who know your industry. Seek their views on industry developments, who’s hiring, and what they’re looking for.

Step 2: Be honest with yourself

Once you’ve done some or all of those actions above, you’ll have lots of great intelligence on what your future employer may be looking for. You can now write your CV to highlight those things. But it’s still not time to reach for the laptop. A little honest evaluation first. Allow yoursellf some headspace to answer this question:

How do my skills, experience and motivation match what my future employer is seeking?

Be really specific and keep referring back to what you learned in Step 1. Note your points. Think of examples and evidence of what you offer. Review this with a friend or colleague who can support you with a fresh perspective.

Watch out for the ‘modesty trap’ as you complete this step. Don’t underestimate your skills and what you offer. Job descriptions in particular can be intimidating, so don’t let them put you off!

Step 3: (Re)build your CV

Now you’re ready to write your CV so that it delivers the results you are seeking. And by the way, you are also well on the way to being prepared for a strong interview performance. Which is a good thing, not least because your (re)built CV will be resulting in more of them!

Your choice now is whether to rebuild your existing CV or start afresh. As long as you apply what you have learned in Steps 1 and 2 you’ll be on track. Your content will be relevant to what the employer is seeking and you’ll be providing examples as evidence. In short, you’ll be writing a CV that gets results.

Remember that if you work from an existing CV you may need to take content out so that your relevant content gets the space it deserves.

And a final useful question to ask yourself:

If an employer read my CV and only remembered three things, what would I want them to be?

Take a break from your CV and come back to it. Do those three things stand out as highlights on your CV? Once you’re happy they do, you’ll be ready for some testing in the market. Why not start with some friends or recruiter contacts? Good luck!

If you’d like to look at more tips for ways to format and structure your CV for success, take a look at this blog post of ’10 things you can do to improve your CV now‘.

At The Careers Group we offer tailored one-on-one career guidance for individuals at all levels of their career. Whether you’re looking to change careers, get promoted, or come back to work after a break, we are here to help you!

The Royal Society of Biology is running a CV and Interview Skills Workshop in partnership with The Careers Group, University of London, on 3rd December 2015.

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