A CV is an iterative document which people rarely update routinely. The time between updates and the awkwardness of self-promotion can also lead the content to be stilted and unhelpful; which is a shame. It is a personal document, explaining your unique skills and experience, and it should be fully representative of your specific value. More importantly, it should also resonate strongly with the kind of person or company that you want to hire you.
Here is a process I recommend to revitalise your CV and put your specific voice into it.
Print it out, get some scissors and cut out each section. You should end up with a stack of compliment slip like `slices’, each of which will contain one aspect of your profile.
Get a blank sheet of A4 and cut off a third of it horizontally. Keep the remainder separately. Staple all these pieces together as a stack with this new empty ‘slip’ on the top. Carry this around with you for as long as the process takes.
For now, forget your interests, education and training, start with your oldest role (no more than 15 years ago) and on the back of each slip write three keywords or phrases that represent the value you added to that business. Examples may include “unlocked delivery” or “strategy” or “exceeded targets”. Do this for every job you’ve had and take your time, there’s no rush, and it may (probably should) take days or even weeks to get this nailed.
When you have completed this for each role, write down each word (even duplicates) on the remaining 2/3s of the A4. Keep this list safe; these are your core assets, the historical success factors which underline your contribution and potential future value to interested employers.
In my experience, most CV role descriptions are prosaic at best, meaningless at worst. This blandness can be for two reasons; the timeframe since the first version and the time between iterations, but also the sense of conformity that most of us have when we come to explain how we have contributed. There is an easy way to correct this problem and add real meaning to your previous roles. I suggest the following format for each position:
Your CV is about you, putting your role first is important as it prioritises what the employer expected of you.
Construct each bullet point around three simple components. You can google this, but they are:
In a CAR sentence, each item should explain, the challenge you were presented with, what you did and what the result was. As an example: