The Professional CV

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 - career change, curriculum vitae, CV Help, CV Tips, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Professional CV, professionalism, tutorial


Professional CV

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Creative Commons License photo credit: allaboutgeorge

A CV – also known as a resume in North America – is an essential piece of both managing your career, as well as the most essential tool when you are seeking a new job.

CV’s are about many things, but simply from the applicant or candidates view point, they are a focused sales pitch for an interview against a specific job description: no more, and certainly no less. You will note I said job description and not job, and that is the first key difference in the Professional CV.

As a sales pitch, are they therefore a lie? No, and in now way should you ever lie on your CV, much less the legal document on which you can be instantly dismissed and sued for false representation with – the Job Application form.

But as a sales pitch, your first consideration when creation a CV should be on two issues:

  • Function – do you have the basic skills to do the job?
  • Fit – will you fit the organisation, the team and their approach?
Primarily, the CV focuses on the first issue, while the interview confirms the second. Hence, up until the interview, the key issue for the employer is seeking full confirmation of is the applicants’ ability to do the basic job. Any issue which makes an employer just think it may be possible that the candidate can not meet the basic functional criteria will be a reason for exclusion, and hence rejection from the process.So what is the difference between the CV, and the Professional CV?If you read the advert for any job, then you can extract the core competencies – written as skills, qualifications and experiences. These are directly derived from the employers job description, which has defined the minimum competency criteria a candidate must have to fulfil the job. The ideal candidates CV ticks these boxes like a shopping list with an A+ result, although it is amazing personally as a recruiter to find that still at least half of candidates don’t recognise that is what they have to do. Ambition and applying for different job opportunities is great, and possible if you go about it the right way. But please realise that the HR department for the employer has probably spent at least 100hrs getting to publishing that advert, so at least make sure you have all the required skills.

The Professional CV starts before the job advert. You will know your core competencies and skills, and what your next job looks like – particularly the skills and development it provides, and with probably less focus on the salary package as you know what you should be paid in the market you have chosen. When you see the ideal next job, you will know that the first thing you need to do is some research on the company – the Professional CV includes issues which address and confirm company fit with personal ambition and career goals of the candidate. The Professional CV applicant will also be known to the recruiter or HR person handling the application process, as you will have called them – your CV will not be a surprise on their desk, but a delight.

While the CV answers the core competencies of the required candidate, the Professional CV – fronted by a good Cover Letter which follows up the telephone call – will also address the issue of fit into to the team. The lack of a Cover Letter means that at least one third of applicants are rejected in the average CV sift by recruiters or HR professionals; the Professional CV is fronted by a Cover Letter which merely confirms your ability to do the job and fit the team.

Having been called to interview, the Professional CV has now done its job – a CV’s main purpose is to get the applicant an interview, not a job. It is at the interview that the research and prior engagement that the professionals work will now pay off.

Note that I said above that a CV is a focused sales pitch for an interview, against a specific job description: no more, and certainly no less. It is in the interview that the professional does not just explain the skills on their CV, but shows how they will do that job – and accepts that as the interview develops, so does the job. As a recruiter, I know that:

  • The difference between an applicant and a professional is that applicants can just do the functional task; while professional understand they need to show that they can deliver for the business
  • A professional candidate placed in front of an employer will never be employed for the job they applied for, but the one that was defined jointly with the employer in the interview

In summary, the applicant and their CV will be able to address the job descriptions needs for candidates to have certain core competencies. The professional will have undertaken their research, engaged the organisation before application, and written a Professional CV/Cover Letter combination that in interview they can use to confirm for the employer their fit in the company, and understanding of the business need.

Good Luck!

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