Tailor your CV
When you’re looking for your perfect role at executive level, the role of the CV takes on an entirely different meaning. There is no standard CV format: like you, each CV will be slightly individual and different. The most important aspect of any CV is the information conveyed, which should be both relevant to the job and succinct.
So before you apply for your next role, consider our top tips for perfecting your CV, and take a different approach to landing your ideal job.
1. Length of CV
A CV should be around 2 - 3 pages in length, depending on the number of year’s experience you have.
2. Contact details
Your name and contact details should be clearly shown on the front page. It is best to avoid putting your details in the header or footer as if the person recruiting is not looking at your CV in the print view, these may not be seen. Don’t forget to include all relevant details: your full name, telephone numbers and email address.
Location is important for most jobs and your address/location should be clearly visible. If you are prepared to be flexible on where you live/ work, you could include the address you are ‘able to relocate’ to or instead of an address simply write ‘flexible location’.
90% of hiring managers now consider social media and networking when selecting prospective candidates and the practice of including a LinkedIn profile URL is becoming increasingly popular. This is still down to personal preference, but bear in mind your prospective employer is likely to search for you regardless. If you want to be sure they’re getting it right, include your URL. LinkedIn offers the option to edit your public profile URL and remove the distracting numbers and letters at the end, and any information missing from your CV can be crafted into your LinkedIn profile instead.
The days of the standard ‘one-size-fits-all’ CV are long gone: now, your profile should be customised to the individual job for which you are applying, focusing on key points that are relevant to the role. The profile summary should be no longer than a single paragraph, and it is particularly powerful to pick out key words used in the original job specification where possible.
For example, if the role is as a new business sales person working for a software company that specialises in supplying to the public sector market place, and the organisation is seeking a ‘dynamic, tenacious and driven individual’, your profile would be tailored to read something like: “I am an experienced and driven new business sales person with extensive experience working within the public sector market place...” Cleary the information must be ‘true’ – it’s about ensuring the relevant information of your background can be seen.
For more experienced candidates, education should appear at the end of the CV. It is not necessary to list all individual O Levels and GCSEs: a summary is usually sufficient, for example “10 x GCSEs grades A-C.”
Qualifications at degree level or above should be listed in greater detail, for example “Nottingham University, BSC in Business Studies, 2:1”.
There is usually no need for experienced candidates to detail the specific content of any course undertaken, except in special circumstances where details can boost your application. For example, when applying for a technical role where a project undertaken as part of your course utilised technology relevant to the role being applied for.
You can list core skills, but this should not be a long list – it should focus on the skills you have that match the requirements of the role. For example, if the role is to operate at board level you could include “experience of presenting and influencing at board level”. Four or five bullet points should be sufficient.
Key achievements relevant to the role, such as specific sales successes, can be shown either summarised on the front page or included under each recent role in the employment history section. It is worth noting that it is usually best to put key achievements under each individual role so that it is clear when and where the achievements occurred.
In addition, your achievements should be quantifiable where possible, for example, “achieved £1.2m revenue sales against £1m target”. Numbers are particularly powerful in the world of sales and mean far more than percentages alone, especially when every other candidate in the market is saying the same thing. Listing sales targets and achievement examples is essential at executive level and should include average orders and major wins, such as “£500K sold to John Lewis, £750K sold to M&S” and so forth. Numbers are the foundation of sales: sell yourself with hard evidence.