Is This a Good Addition to a CV? I Think So.

Y’know how when you visit a blog, for example, often in one of the sidebars (to the left or right of the main section) there’s a block. And in that block are a bunch of words. Sometimes they’re of varying sizes. It’s called a ‘word cloud’.

What’s the idea with it? It contains not just any words. But the keywords of the site. It’s a quick overview of what the website or blog is about. And each word is also a link to content related to that word.

So for example if the blog is about rugby, the word cloud may contain words such as:

super 14 – rugby world cup 2011 – pieter van der westhuizen – percy montgomery’s hairstylist – french rugby – rugby union rules – rugby league – aussie rules – rugby fixtures 2010 – brumbies – western province – the bulls – the sharks

So the ‘word cloud’ serves 2 purposes:

  1. It gives a quick overview of what the site contains; and
  2. It gives quick links to the information you’re looking for.

How can it be applied in a CV?

A CV is about creating the right impression. It seldom gets read word for word – unless serious interest is first established. Things a reader wants to know right up front are:

  • Is this person what I need?
  • Are they qualified and do they have the experience I need?
  • How they done a great job?
  • Who have they done the job for?

So a word cloud in a CV can help – how? for point #2 above. If you choose your keywords carefully – aligning them with the job ads you’re applying for and the keywords used in them – you have the opportunity to give a quick overview of the skills, knowledge and expertise you have.

These are very keywords the employer is using in their ad. So it creates an immediate ‘connection’ ‘synergy’ ‘familiarity’ with the mind of the reader / employer / recruiter. It says:

“Hey, I’ve got the right stuff here, read on, read on”.

If you’re in marketing and sales it may read something like this:

Marketing and Sales Strategy – Marketing Tactics – Branding – Advertising and Promotion – Sales Management – Managing Teams, Targets and Performance – Building Strategic Relationships – Customer Service

You can probably do a better job of yours, but there you are.

This isn’t ‘heavy weight’ information in the CV – recruiters prefer to see where the expertise has been applied, as part of a job (there are of course smart ways of doing that, in my CV writing for clients I’ve developed some cool ways). But it can work to just give the strong suggestion that you have the ‘goods’ and encourage the reader to continue.

I think it’s a good idea.

“Do you feel like just another insect on the windscreen of job hunting life?”

Yeah, one can feel pretty lousy in a job hunt. Maybe you’re getting no response week after week. And hey, let’s be honest, it could be nothing to do with you. Maybe you’re great. It’s just that the job market is deflated.

But here’s a question:

Do you also consider it possible that you could be doing a better job of marketing your skills? Do you think you could be presenting yourself better? In your CV, in covering letters and in interviews?

Can I give you some personal insights here? I’m a CV writer – it’s what I do pretty much all day. And I see some really fantastic people make a real hash of their CV etc. They make basic errors.

I don’t want you to do the same. So here’s a great free resource from me: “High Impact Job Search Quick Fixes” – it’s 23 pages of my best ideas for ‘quick fixing’ your CV, cover letter or job interview. It also includes a step-by-step guide to writing a 2 page CV – very useful when adverts say: “send your 2 page CV …”

All you have to do is send an e-mail to quickfixes@getresponse.com

Then check your e-mail inbox.

Hope this helps! Mail me directly if you need help with this (see About page).

Self Promotion May Scare or Repel You. 3 Ideas and an Example to Help You.

Is self promotion, y’know, something that scares you or repels you – is it something you avoid?

“I increased sales by 67% in one year” “I was voted Mr Most Valuable, 2008”

When you’re applying for a job, writing your CV or cover letter – do you find it difficult to, um, ‘blow your own horn’? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Would you rather fly under the radar, under promise and over deliver? Does that make you feel more honorable?

This is a problem area for most of us. Personality types differ. Maybe you find it easy. Maybe you don’t. But it’s got to be done (see why later). So … perhaps there’s a way of looking at it and a way of doing it that’s easier and acceptable for all? Lets examine.

A New Way of Looking at It?

Do you know that you’re actually doing everyone a disservice by not coming out and telling people what you achieved? Let’s take a case in point. One client this week, for example:

In 2009 he’s reduced overheads by 25%, he’s established 6 new business units in the last 3 years, he’s referred to by some as a “cost cutting master”

None of this is on his CV; all he had is, like, “I was Chief Operating Officer” with a bunch of boring “duties”.

A new employer wants more, needs more, to make a smart hiring decision – or even just to call the guy in for an interview. Sure he needs to know WHAT the guy does. But as important is this:

He needs to know if the guy is any good at what he does!

And it’s not a case of being obnoxious: “I’m so great! I’m the best! I’m better than … all the rest!” No. Humility is a valuable and very attractive quality – the opposite of the “I’m the best” message. But you can still promote yourself AND be humble.

Here Are 3 tips on How to do This

  • Keep things factual – use figures and statistics where possible. The opposite of “fact” is “fluff”. Fluff means no substance, just claims. It’s hype and hot air.
  • Tell a little story – which allows a bit more than just “I’m the best!” – see example below.
  • Make it visible – it’s important to give it the spotlight, include some strategic achievements in an opening profile or executive summary section.

Here’s an example:

Faced chaotic, non-compliant, backlogged Finance department, but with long hours and good teamwork was able to achieve a “clear” audit and up-to-date situation within 6 months.

That’s a nice achievement – let’s analyse it.

  • There are facts: “clear audit”, “up-to-date situation within 6 months” – these are verifyable facts, so it’s credible and believable.
  • It’s not pompous: “with team cooperation” suggests it wasn’t all “me”. And the reader gets the message that this guy can get things done, motivate and drive a team effectively, even when under pressure.
  • It tells a story – problem faced, action taken, good result: humans love little stories, so it makes the CV more readable and interesting.

It’s the easiest thing in the world for an employer to find a Manager, or whoever. But to find one who can: reduce overheads by 12% within 3 months, motivate a team to exceed sales targets by 17%, improve efficiency by 25% in 3 months, etc – that’s a much harder task.

So don’t make the task more difficult by hiding achievements away – just because you’re not comfortable with it. You’re not doing anyone any favours. Show your quality. Help the employer to see it. Help yourself.

What’s YOUR opinion on thisdo you include achievements? do you find it difficult or repulsive? do you want my opinion on your achievements – write it, post it and get my opinion by clicking the “Leave a Comment” link under the title.

A One Page CV? Why? And Could it Give You Any Advantage?

It’s not that often that you’re asked for a 1 page CV. But could it be a good strategy for you?

Well – your CV is there to make an impact for you. Boom! (in the words of Donkey/Eddie Murphy in Shrek). But let’s be straight – sometimes there’s just not that much to say that’s worthy of “Boom!” It happens.

So sometimes it’s an effective strategy to take what you have and make it really count. Making it more concise – 1 page – helps you to focus more attention on what you want attention focused on.

With 1 page there’s nowhere for the reader to go. And by highlighting carefully chosen words or elements (like key achievements) one has the chance to get a message accross with more “Boom!”.

But additionally: there is just something about a 1 pager CV that says: I’m confident; I don’t need lots of words to make me look good; I’m with it; I’m in the modern age.

Older job hunters especially pay attention: don’t reinforce the “old, left behind” stereotype by having a 10 page traditional CV. Rather take the risk of a one pager, highlighting your best big results. Rather cast the light on how you make a difference.

Your message can easily be diluted by lots of information. More information can always be added. But the chance to make a Boom first impression only happens once.

You will irritate recruiters with a 1 page CV. They will ask for more. But so what? If they’re calling you – impressed with the short version – that’s a big achievement and then you have the chance to dazzle them on the phone, in an interview or with additional focused material that builds further on your 1 pager.

Just some ideas. ‘Cause if you keep on doing the same old things, then you know what you can expect?!

[Of course getting it right is another matter. Maybe you need some help. Call me/e-mail me anytime for help with this. My CV writing services are there for you. My mail: gerard@jobsearching.co.za or go here for more.]

The Best Time You Can Spend Online When Job Hunting – a Supercharged Cover Letter Idea

So I got this mail from a CV writing client today, just updating me on his search. Here’s what he said after a week or so of job hunting (name has been changed).

And with it comes a key job hunting lesson. (And when I say “key” I mean “KEY” – as in save yourself hours, days and weeks of aimless Internet surfing to find that new jobs website that has all those perfect jobs for you that no-one else has discovered yet!)

Hi Gerard, I have had a response to the CV from a recruitment agent. Which is more than I have had before. So I feel it is working… I have sent my CV to people that I know.
Pete.

Here’s my answer to him – he wasn’t complaining but I can tell what’s going on there – he’s main job search strategy is recruiters and job websites. And just for good measure he’s also “sent my CV to people that I know.”

Hi Pete, Good that you’re getting some results. It’s a tough market. So it’s going to be about ‘working’ it and not doing what everyone else does (ie answer job ads). Good to see you already sending your CV out to contacts – but also make personal contact, have coffee, talk to people – and keep doing that. And then there’s this idea:

If you spend time online then spend it researching all the CTO’s you can find (Technical Officers or similar) [Pete is an IT Manager], getting their contact details and mailing them (e-mail or actually hard copy) a letter like this: 

Dear Mr Jones

For the last while I’ve been looking out for companies I’d like to work for. And after checking out www.coolITCompany.com – especially your comments regarding expansion in the new financial year – perhaps there’s a match between what you’re going to need and what I have?

Quick Profile:

Offering 12+ Years Experience Managing ICT Infrastructure, Teams, Support and Service – Currently at [current employer] Achieving 100% Service Level Performance – with Performance Bonuses Awarded for the 8 Years Straight.

I’m still at [current company] but I’d like to get together to explore options with you, if you’re willing. No commitment.

Can I follow up with you on this during the next week? Will call your office.

Regards,
Pete

Do that kind of research and drop that kind of letter often enough and you’re going to uncover some great opportunities. Let me know how it goes.

 That’s what I said. What do you think? Not passive that’s for sure. Too much job hunting IS passive. And it leaves one frustrated and helpless. And without a job frequently. Isn’t it time for a bolder approach?

Hell, yeah. It’s the best way to spend your time online when job hunting.

More CV Writing Assistance for Job Hunters

CV writing is one of those irritating tasks that goes along with job hunting. It’s frustrating and one tackles one’s CV pretty much not knowing if one’s doing it right. Is it going to get attention? Will be dumped?

Ja, anyway. So I’ve put up some more really helpful guidance here at the WOWCV.Net site. Check these pages out:

How to Write a CV – step by step guidance and a template to help you.
CV Sample and Analysis – cv samples with my comments and analysis.

They’ll help you present yourself better than ever. But if you’re still having issues – you’ll know by the awkward feeling you get when you look at your CV, or by the bags under your eyes from staying up until 3am battling with your CV – then see here to enlist me as your CV writer.

How Much Detail do You Need on Your CV?

How much detail in a CV is enough, where does one draw the line? Let’s take an example.

Today, I wrote a CV for  a General Manager in a big manufacturing company. JSE listed, Rkazillions in turnover and revenue. And he’s at the head, responsible for making things work, shareholder value and all that.

So, does he need detail such as:

“Prepared and coordinated the annual budgets on a zero base budget method”

For what he’s aiming at (GM, Managing Director, etc type positions) is that going to help him get where he’s going? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong?

So where do you draw the line in terms of how much detail goes in a CV? A couple of things come to mind:

  1. Is the specific detail really that special? Or is it assumed? Take our GM – budgeting is pretty much an assumed function/skill (especially considering his Financial background). That he applied a certain methodology is perhaps even more un-important. That he did budgeting is unlikely to impress anyone. It’s not going to twist anyone’s arm into calling him in for an interview. Right?
  2. One makes decisions about what to include or not based on what the position being applied for asks for and will ask for in the way of results. Again take the GM. He’s being – no doubt – asked to increase revenue, improve efficiency in service delivery, reduce costs, etc. So really focus has to be on that stuff – how he’s performed those tasks/challenges before. And the results achieved. One doesn’t want to dilute those aspects of the message by detail that may be 2nd or 3rd tier in importance.
  3. Perhaps in the profession knowledge of certain methodologies, practices or legal frameworks IS of critical importance. They’re fundamental to whether you’re a suitable candidate or not. That’s another clue to whether detail should be included or not.

Sometimes in a CV – I see it in my CV writing Clients all the time – the response of the writer is to pack in the detail, sometimes desperately giving the impression that “this little detail may tip the scales in my favour”. But usually it won’t. Recruiters sometimes ask for “more detail” – but if they’re asking that it probably just means they’re not that interested – and instead of saying to you: “you just don’t have what we’re looking for” they ask for more detail.

At times sure they’re just drilling down to confirm you have exactly what their client is looking for. You have to be discerning. But your CV is there to present your best tier 1 detail – “10 Years as GM in a R300ml pa Company; Recent Achievements Include Turning a Division around from a R5ml loss to a R2.1ml Profit; BComm Hons Degree” etc.

Make Your CV Personal – It’s a People Thing

Read this interesting piece on (http://www.theadclass.com/jobs/10-tips-writing-remarkable-resume) – article written mainly for the creative/design/advertising sector but …

Here’s a great observation, applicable to all:

Most people think the purpose of a resume is to get you a job. Wrong. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Similarly, most people think the purpose of an interview is to get you the job. Wrong again.

The purpose of an interview is to connect with a human being (i.e. the interviewer) on a personal level and leave a remarkable impression on them (as in – worth making a remark about).

So how do you put that to work? Dunno. But it connects in a big way with so many comments I’ve heard from employers (they’re just regular PEOPLE after all, like you and me) – they don’t want just cold, hard facts. Some insight into “you” – who you are, what you stand for, what your personal approach or philosophy is.

Good to try to incorporate some of that into your CV especially. I always try to do that for my clients. But it’s always best for the applicant to do that themselves – they have to ‘defend’ it at interview level, it’s gotta be consistent with how they come across at an interview. And genuine! Not contrived.

I’ve sometimes included an “end-off” statement at the end of a CV – in inverted comments, a personal statement of some sort – something that says: “here’s what you can expect of me if you get  me on board” or “here’s something unique from my experience that will give you, the employer, something extra” or “here’s my unique sales proposition”.

Something like that. Between inverted commas text gets attention. Making it brief is also good. And centered in the middle of the page perhaps.

Launching into 2009

Ok, so maybe this is a personal post – but at least you know you’re dealing with a real person here – who had a fantastic December. After ‘burning out’ toward the end of 2008 was great to spend a little time getting something back … here: www.eightbells.co.za, www.fairyknowe.co.za and www.countryclub.co.za.

Something interesting: never saw myself as a hotel person. But man, when you have kids like us – Zoe and Ethan, 6 and 3 – hotels with all their facilities and food laid on are cool, cool, cool!

So what are your goals for 2009? I never achieve mine. So I don’t have any. BUT … what I do have is an overall philosophy or approach that I know, if I put it to work, it’ll result in big benefits. The approach is based on 3 things:

  1. Knowing what’s really important to me – what I value most, what I really want for my family and me, what I want my business to be about, what I want for my health and wellbeing, etc – this underpins any decision making I have to make regarding what to do with my time/resources/energy.
  2. Drawing up a basic schedule of activity – booking blocks of time for things that are of real importance, whether personal – like exercise – or family – like doing something like walking in the woods every Tuesday late afternoon – or work – like writing CVs, marketing, or writing blog posts, etc.
  3. Being ruthless. “ruthless: hard hearted, showing no mercy”. I won’t always feel like doing stuff. But I know that if I don’t do ‘stuff’ I can expect a frustrating year of little or no progress. I’m excited by what I could achieve. But discipline has to keep me on track, when all hell is breaking loose.

So, that approach is nothing new, but it helps to have something in place, huh?

Please share your ideas and approaches below.

THIS … is the Purpose of Your CV

Have you ever been asked by a recruiter for “more information”. You know, besides what’s already in your CV. And it’s frustrating because, I mean, where do you stop? How much is “enough?” You’ve included good solid information in your CV. Isn’t that sufficient?

It is. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if, prior to you being interviewed, the recruiter is asking for “more information” of a general nature – other than what’s on your concise, focussed 2 page CV – the opportunity being offered is not a serious prospect for you. And the recruiter isn’t very experienced.

You’ll have to use your common sense of course. If they ask for specific details, like about your experience with a certain software package, or in a certain niche function of your job, then that may be a different matter. Your experience with the software/function may be a deal breaking/making element for the client, so they have to be sure of your depth of knowledge.

But really, it’s not hard to make a decision on whether to call you in for an interview or not. If you’re qualified for the job and you have the required experience/profile and you’re being clear and concise in your CV and cover letter, then it should be easy. What makes it difficult is if actually you’re NOT suited to the job but because they don’t have anyone suitable they’re hoping that you’ve left some critical details out of your CV.

Yep, asking for more general information perhaps betrays what the recruiter may be thinking …

“this person looks really good, they have 50% of what’s required … maybe they’ve left something important out of their 2 page CV … let me ask for more information.”

But I say, if you don’t fit, you don’t fit. Adding more 2nd or 3rd tier details is not going to swing it.

Now of course you want to indulge recruiters. They have the power, the job opening, the relationship with the client. So sometimes one has to play along and give them what they want. But here’s how I would answer the request for more “general” information –

“sure, when can I come in for an interview to give it to you”

– that’ll test whether there’s real interest or not.

Here’s something interesting written by a US “resume” writer, Robert Parker (http://resumesuccesszone.com), on the topic of what your CV or resume (for these purposes they’re the same thing) is really meant to achieve, what it’s true purpose is:

Your resume is a sales pitch designed to make a prospective employer think you’re worth their time for an interview. That’s all. It’s a single step in the hiring process designed to lead to the next step. Many people mistakenly believe that their resumes must convince a manager that they’ve got what it takes to get the prospective job done.

What he means by “convince a manager” is that from the detail alone the manager can make the final hiring decision. But you don’t get hired off your CV. It’s a powerful tool, sure. It can influence, sure. But it’s not meant to be a detailed biography, and a boring one at that, on your professional life and times with lists and lists of detail. Rather your CV is meant to enable a quick decision, in 30 seconds or even less, to call you in for an interview.

So understand the purpose of your CV. Interviews! And it’s tier 1 detail that gets that for you – qualifications, job titles, achievements, companies worked for, references (can be tricky, so be careful), and job functions (they’ll be scanning for key words). Oh, and of course, it’s all got to be presented concisely, professionally, clearly (that’s my job as a CV writer!)

[Just a memory coming back to me from my recruiting days – after interviewing someone we’d hand over the CV to a typist for typing into the ‘house’ format – we’d always assume that candidates knew nothing about CV writing and we knew everything – and we’d in one foul swoop turn the candidate into the perfect ‘average’. And because the format looked really silly with just a few details, more details were always preferred or the typist would complain. Interesting to see what may be behind the request for “more details.”]