What Your CV Needs to do For You to Be Taken Seriously – 9 Specific Things

Background: someone sent me their CV for review. It was written by a recruitment agency. The individual is looking to make a career change from the military to private sector. This is entirely do-able, but the CV really needs to ‘hit’ hard for them. Here’s my answer to her:

For an employer reviewing your CV, really, they must:

… see benefit to themselves, they must see that you have skills they need, they must see that you are someone who can work hard and well for them, that you can provide the benefit they need, and more.

So, you want to highlight things you’ve achieved –

  1. how you’ve reduced backlogs,
  2. how you’ve worked with difficult people successfully,
  3. how you’ve provided accurate, on-time services,
  4. how you’ve kept an organized, up-to-date office,
  5. how you’ve ensured compliance to regulations,
  6. how you’ve done the work of 2 people (saving money, etc),
  7. how you’ve streamlined processes (again, saving resources),
  8. how you’ve learned new things quickly, etc, etc.
  9. You want to show people have trusted you with much and you’ve delivered, on-target, on-time.

All of this needs to be highlighted and detailed in various ways in the CV in order to get attention and to be taken seriously. If all you have is a list of “duties”, you could be in trouble.

(Recruitment people often have no idea of what a CV can be, they just use the same old approach, one that they’ve been using for the last 40 years.)

Can a 73 Year Old Get Work? Here’s my Answer.

So I got a question from “X” today:

Hi Gerard, how do u go about finding a job if you are 73 years old, but perfectly capable?  No one will hire whether on a casual, temporary or part-time, etc., basis.

Here’s my reply:

Hi “X”, thanks for your question. And of course you have challenges. Not many 73 year olds are looking for work. Many are not what they once were in terms of health and strength and even mental alertness – I know, my father who died at age 74, 3 years ago, was in no fit state to work anywhere. He had severe dimentia and cancer!

So certainly there are stereotypes and prejudices and doubts that employers may have. And we can’t wish that away. However if you still have value – business value – skills that you can use to benefit a business, then someone, somewhere will give you an opportunity.

If you follow the basic recipe I outlined in my e-mail earlier today, then with persistence you can succeed in finding work. You may have to adjust your expectations, you may have to be flexible, you may need to develop a new skill or two. But if you focus on offering employers what they need, you will find someone who offers you an opportunity.

Do not however think that employment agencies will help you. They won’t.

Don’t judge the job market based on the response you get from them!

Also, don’t think that you’ll be successful answering job ads either in newspapers or online. You likely won’t. Although one exception may be using the likes for Gumtree to both find job ads from local businesses and to advertise yourself.

Start where you are:

  • Define exactly how you can be valuable to a business, what skills can you employ to help them, what do they need that you have?
  • Then target local businesses, visit them every 2 weeks to offer what you have, be boldly persistent. If you’re healthy, well spoken, are “together” then word will spread.
  • Network amongst your friends and neighbours. Are you a member of any associations or clubs? Network with them, explain what you’re looking for and what benefits you have to offer.
  • If you read about business personalities in the local newspaper, pay them a visit – repeatedly – and explain how you think you can offer their business some skill and benefit.
  • Look after yourself physically, keep fit. Read a lot – keep up-to-date with technology as far as you can (there are many free courses on the internet).

If you persist with this kind of positive approach … your results will be guaranteed.

Hope this helps! Keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you’re fairing.

How to Overcome the “Too Old” Stereotype in Your CV

Got a mail from “M”. She was frustrated. Angry. Threatening to … actually here are her words:

I need to see you; if I get told I’m too old again I’ll murder someone!

Obviously her job hunt was going nowhere – and she put it all down to age prejudice. It does happen a lot. Here’s my reply with the antidote to ‘age prejudice’ and the “too old” stereotype.

Hi M

Thanks for your mail. Frustrated, huh? Sorry to hear that. There’s only one way to counteract a negative stereotype (“too old”). Here it is:

  • Show how you are uniquely valuable.
  • Show how you’ll provide powerful benefits.
  • Show how you’ll solve the reader’s (employer’s) problem.

Your problem may not be that you’re too old – you are what you are, so that’s good news! Your problem may be that you’re not doing a great job of showing how you can be of great value to the employer. Maybe I’m wrong? Your thoughts? See attached if you’d like to get me to help you solve the problem by re-writing your CV.

[PS Meeting isn’t something I usually do with my clients. I do work for people all over the world so have everything set up to help people from far.]

Gerard
CV Writer and Job Hunting Coach

“M”‘s CV was good in one way: It was one page – something which shows confidence and has an ‘up-to-dateness’ that is appealing. But she really blew it in other ways. Her age was all over the place – pretty much the first line was her age/date of birth. She had her picture there. She’s pretty in a mature kind of way. BUT no spring-chicken. And it was a casual pic, relaxing on the couch (this kind of pic seldom goes down well in promoting oneself in a professional environment).

Also there was NO sense of focus – “here’s what I’m looking for, this is the value I can provide, this is why it’ll be good to have me around, these are the problems I can solve for you.” No doubt she has good skills. She has good qualifications. Great in fact. But even on the one page I only noticed her Bachelor of Business Administration degree on my 3rd look.

There IS a negative stigma associated with age. Who knows why? It may have something to do with a very fast, technology driven world that some older people find hard to keep up with. It may be totally wrong.

But whatever the case – there’s no point in doing nothing to counteract the negative perceptions. One’s personal marketing has to be smarter, more focussed to stay competitive.

Good lessons these. What are you saying in your CV? Are you promoting “YOU” as powerfully as you should? It’s important, because “YOU” are all you have. See www.wowcv.net/ for more on my CV writing service.