Your CV is one of the most powerful weapons in your job-seeking armoury and is often the first point of contact with a potential boss, so it’s vital to make this document as powerful as possible.
There are two stages in this process:
- Make sure your existing skills and experience are presented clearly and succinctly
- Take steps to fill any gaps and boost your employability
One of the best ways to undertake stage one is to use a professional CV building service. These are usually available for a nominal fee and can provide useful guidance on layout and content.
Stage two is a longer-term activity which relies on you making small but effective changes to your daily life. Below are a few tips for enhancing the content of your CV:
- Get involved with cross-team projects in your current job
Your role may have become increasingly specialised or you might have limited variety in your day-to-day tasks. That’s not a problem if you’re applying for positions that exactly match your current skill set and responsibilities, but this is often not the case.
For that reason it’s useful to seek opportunities which stretch you beyond your immediate remit. One way to do this is by volunteering for activities that involve working alongside other departments. These opportunities will vary from between companies but may include organising staff events or joining project working groups. Anything that shows you are a team player and gives you something to talk about on your CV and in interviews is beneficial.
- Keep a running log of your achievements
Pack your CV with statistics and facts that underpin statements about past performance. Where possible, link actions to key outcomes such as revenue growth, cost savings, performance against deadlines or other named targets.
It can be hard to recall all your notable achievements so it’s helpful to create a document that outlines your current responsibilities and allows you to log examples of success. As this record of achievement evolves you will become increasingly adept at recognising times when you have gone above and beyond the call of duty, or have done something which demonstrates competency to a future employer.
- Study for a relevant vocational qualification If your existing job isn’t presenting you with an opportunity to develop your skills then you may want to consider gaining a professional qualification. Formal training not only enhances your confidence, knowledge and capabilities, but also communicates commitment and ambition on your CV.
Vocational study can also be incredibly important if you’re looking to change career. Research conducted by Home Learning College shows that 49% of employers would hire someone for an entry level position who had a relevant vocational qualification but no experience, while only 17% said this would not be an option in their organisation.
- Do some voluntary work Another way to demonstrate your suitability to a potential employer is to take an unpaid role in your spare time that matches your desired job. This can be an effective way of practicing techniques learnt through vocational study and is a great way of overcoming a lack of hands-on experience.
For example, if you have gained a bookkeeping qualification then you could look for opportunities to assist with the finances of a local charity. Similarly, many not-for-profit organisations are crying out for help in areas such as IT or web design, which will enhance your portfolio and CV.
In essence, the key to developing a knock-out CV lies in actively seeking opportunities to broaden your appeal and demonstrate why employers should consider you over other candidates. In a competitive job market it’s those job seekers who invest the most in their personal development who will reap the rewards.