You versus CV

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 - career change, career management, CV Help, CV Tips, CV Writing, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Job Application, job hunting, job search, tutorial

You versus CV – focus your competencies


If you want to apply for a job, then one of the first things you have to do is write a CV.

Probably the last time you wrote one from scratch – darn that they got rid of that nice Sinclair operating system, or the better but less reliable one from Amstrad – getting enough information in there was the problem: would walking the neighbours dog around the park count as a skill an employer would be interested in?

Now, 20 years later you have all this work life – you call it experience, we in recruitment and HR call them competencies – to cram into two pages of A4 paper (is it any wonder that most people ask how they can get below three pages, let alone get it all into two?); and hope that it communicates to an employer that they should give you an interview.

There is a lot of life, and your future, lying on those two pieces of paper. Simply, the statistics of job application show that 2/3rds of job applicants fail to achieve that, and are quickly rejected. So how are you going to get the job you want?

Professional CV

Firstly, a CV writer can help you. They can improve your chances of communicating your skills – the statistics show that a professional CV writer can improve your chances of an interview three fold. But if you can not read job adverts and understand the skills, qualifications and experiences – the competencies – required of the proposed job holder, then you will not improve your chances as much as you could

Plus, a bespoke CV is much like having an arrow with now target to fire it at – nice arrow, shame about the lack of a target

Competency Framework

The only way to get a job is to

  • Know your competencies
  • Be able to extract the competencies that any job advert requires, and know if you have them
  • Be able to communicate those in your CV, by either writing it or adjusting the one you have

So, what are your competencies? They are the combination of your Skills, Qualifications and Experiences gained during your working life, which enable you to deliver results – either in the form of business or people gain. In example:

  • Skills – aptitudes you have which are natural or now in built, such as good listener or observant
  • Qualifications – examined and learnt techniques, such as a degree or a medical certificate
  • Experiences – the fact you were employed on a particular project in a particular position

Most people will have: three core competencies which they are highly proficient in; five secondary competencies, which they perform well at; and up to another seven additional competencies, which they can produce results with.

When employers are creating the business case for a job, the first thing they create is a job description. It is a legal requirement in most countries for all workers to have a job description. The job description will tell them what they are to do, what competencies they are expected to have and additional training or equipment they will be given, and the people they are to work with and for.

When an employer writes out a job description, on which if they choose to hire externally the job advert will be based, do you think that they will base it around your CV, or their job and its job description? Hence, if they are basing it around their job description, they will list out the five key competencies they expect all job applicants to have, in the order and significance they expect the idealised job holder to have them

CV Writing

Now, here is problem one with the standalone CV. Let us say that you have all the required skills of a particular job advert, but that one of your secondary competencies is a required core competency for the job you would quite like to apply for. Much as though it is a secondary competency for you, having read the advert and the companies website, you know that your level of ability to deliver that competency is above the level required of the company. The employer will be looking for this competency in both the Cover Letter and the CV to confirm your ability to deliver this core requirement, and yet your standalone CV has it buried in your last role. You better learn how now to adjust your CV and bring that competency forward.

The secondary problem with the standalone CV is excess skill. Most job descriptions are written around five core competencies, but most people have around 15 competencies. Employers look for reasons to reject employees before the job interview, so if you ask a CV writer to create a standalone CV for you, they need to cover all the bases and hence will include all 15 competencies. Now, much as though you have all this capability, in the job application review hands of the HR department of your potential new employer, they are 10 dead weights which unfocus your job application. I always know the applicants in the office who have excess competencies, as the researchers in our recruitment office will say: “Good candidate, has the required skills and would from the feel of it make a good fit. I’m just not sure this is the right job for them?” That later question is brought about by the lack of focus of that CV on that job – it is not that the candidate couldn’t do the job, its just that that job doesn’t look like the right fit. Reduce the focus on the non-required competencies for that job, and the interview would be yours!

The simple answer is, that getting a job is about knowing your self and your competencies. When you read an advert, you need to be able to extract the five core competencies required for that job, and then adjust the focus of your CV appropriately. This doesn’t mean lying – never ever lie in a CV – it just means a focus adjustment of your competencies against that job.

Good Luck!

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