Things you should include in your CV/resume – to get the job!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 - career transition, curriculum vitae, CV Help, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Job Application

CV Writing

Creative Commons License photo credit: me and the sysop

When I sit down with someone, either as a recruiter or a CV writer, everyone asks: What should I include in my CV/resume?

So, glad that they and I are sat down, we now chat for any where between 15 minutes or 15 days – some times they never get it – until they suddenly realise that a Professional CV/resume is a factual sales document pitched against a specific job, and not a compact life history.

The people who get it realise that they will not be personally valued on what their CV/resume says, but will be interviewed by what it says – employment only occurs after an interview and once both parties are happy with the deal of time for money in the contract of employment.

But those who don’t get it perceive when they are rejected from a job application, that they are only and wholly personally valued on their CV/resume, and will think as they reel from the rejection: what else have I got to add, so that they recognise how good I am? Honestly, unless you include a prison record, HR people and recruiters start out by thinking all people are good, and its just the skills and competencies they are assessing – not you!

The problem is rooted in the fact that when you were in school, your teacher sat you all down and started talking about the big world of work. Unfortunately, they did this just before your final school exams (hence, passing Biology was more important to getting work, than how to write a CV/resume – which could wait until later); and secondly for those who did listen, they got you to write out everything you had ever done in two pages or more – and you probably needed some filler text to get to two pages.

At that stage of your career, that could be appropriate. Unfortunately, every CV/resume you have ever written since has been a personal life history extension of the school CV/resume you ever wrote. Or possibly you edited it a bit, and focus most of the words to get it within the suggested two pages on your most recent posts – but the first job you ever got still apears, together with the dates you got your apprenticeship signed off. Oh, plus it still includes hobbies you don’t have time for, and a family summary – with a clean driving license. It’s a mini biography in 2pages – or more, most often

Lets turn the tables here. Say you were an employer, and you needed to fill a job. Would you look for people who had every skill including the kitchen sink listed on their CV/resume, or would you look for people who had the skills to fulfil the job you needed fulfilling? You can’t – rightly – thanks to modern discrimination laws, say any more in your advert than the skills, qualifications and competencies that the job needs. So, you make up a shopping list, and after the HR department come back and tell you that some of those skills are rare and some are horribly expensive, you finalise an advert that asks the applicants for some core skills – those they have got to have; and some nice to have skills – things you would want in a wholly ideal candidate. You give the applicants an idea of the company or firm that you are, the work hours and remuneration package – no one gives a salary these days, everything is a package – and you send it out to the local newspaper and a jobs board for distribution. So having spent around £6,000 and 100hrs, do you think when reading the applications that come back, that flying fishing as a hobby would be more important for choosing people to interview – or the fact the applicant has all the required core skills?

Rejected applicants get into bad habits. They include things which are valuable to them – because it prop’s up their flagging ego’s from so many job application rejections – as opposed to those skills and competencies which the job they are applying for needs. Often I find, that people who started out with 1 interview in 3 job applications are after 3months down to 1interview in 50 applications.

What they have gotten into is a cycle of perceived personal rejection: resulting in adding things to the CV/resume; resulting in less focus on the core skills and wider job application; which results in more rejection; which results in more addition. And so the cycle repeats downwards.

What should you add to your CV/resume? The proof that you have the skills to do the job, as outlined in the job advert. Take a highlighter pen to each job advert, and highlight the required skills – then take your CV/resume, and find those exact skills. Don’t have 90% of the required skills, don’t apply for the job. And once you do take the highlighter pen to your CV/resume, you will be amazed how much of it is irrelevant to that job application – you are now seeing your CV/resume as the potential employer does.

If you follow this system to the ultimate level, then there is an argument that you and your soul will be taken out of your CV/resume, and all employers want to know they are employing people over robots! But what you should include in your CV/resume are the skills the jobs asks for, with some supporting evidence – most of the rest of it is for you.

So, in summary, the things to include in your CV/resume are: the skills required by the job advert.

Good Luck!

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