Writing an “Instant Hit” CV

Ever wanted your CV to be an instant hit with a recruiter / HR person / or an employer?

Here are 6 questions that run through their mind, this is how they think. Once we understand it, we can start looking for ways to capitalize (or just plain, give them what they want.)

So imagine, a CV appears in the inbox – “ping” – they open it – “clickity click”.

1st they scan the body of the e-mail.

They’re looking for a clue as to what it’s about. It’s subconcious. What pops up at them? Anything? Nothing?

Thus far they’re driven by a few things. Curiosity, maybe. Genuine interest, unlikely. Hope that you can solve a problem for them, maybe. Duty, perhaps. Boredom, quite possibly (any distraction is better than what they may be busy with.) Excitement, only if they’re new.

Cynical maybe (of me), but always no matter who they are there’s usually the knowledge that your application could be important for them.

So you have a few seconds of their attention. And if you make use of a short, sharp, to the point, bulleted list of reasons that’ll show – with hard relevant facts (VS soft, fluffy, or meaningless claims of being “hard working” and a “broad based specialist”) –  that you have something for them, something relevant (used again on purpose!), something credible, then perhaps they’ll move on to your attached CV with a positive feeling (always good).

Then they open the CV. And what are they thinking?

  • What does this guy do? (They want to understand where you may fit into the ‘machine’ that is their business / their clients’ business.)
  • Does he have what I value (it could be experience in a certain position, a certain qualification, a certain title, a certain achievement, or they may be looking for a certain personality – all of which solves a certain problem he’s got)?
  • What does he want to do and where? (Would this guy actually want to do what I have in mind? Or is he off on some other track?)
  • What’s special about him? (Remember “average” may actually be “special” – consistent, reliable, predictable, trustworthy.)
  • What was his most recent job and what did he achieve? (Is this person any good at what they do? What did they achieve?)
  • On a personal level is there any special? (People are curious and intrigued by people who do things – it may be you ran the Comrades, you help out at a hospice, you collect antique cars, you paid for your own university courses, etc)

These are the questions that run through their mind. And they are clues to a good CV.

Do we ever give the reader what they want? Or do we hide all these things away on page 4 and in a sub heading on page 9. Or not include them at all. Or never bring them to the fore. Or hope that the reader will join the dots and figure these things out for themselves.

If we can give them answers, if we can make it clear what’s special about us, what benefits we offer, what makes us credible, then we get attention. If we don’t, we risk being lost in the crowd.

Take a minute. Look at your CV. Imagine YOU’re the employer. Ask the questions.

What changes should you make? Make them.

[Or contact me at gerard [at] jobsearching.co.za for my personal help.

Why Not Start a Cover Letter Like This …

Just writing a CV and the client – no names – has started one of her cover letters by declaring:

“Firstly, I would like to sate that I have no criminal record …”

[Note spelling mistake was included.]

C’mon! She’s qualified, very experienced, has great references, excellent skills, she’s a great person. Why would she start out a letter to a prospective employer with that??!!

It’s just ‘off’. Don’t do it.

Ready for a Bold Approach, Tired of “NO Reply at All”

Took this from my Jobsearching.co.za site:

Got a mail from a client who wants to return to SA, but is having a tough time. She’s getting no response to perfect positions for her, there are delays, long bureaucratic processes, etc. (she’s in the public and NGO sector as a highly qualified Lawyer).

Heres my reply:

Thanks for the update. Job hunting can be strange. Frequently it’s a process that ‘has to be followed’ by employers even when they actually already know who they’ll be appointing. An unfortunate truth. Ads are also placed erroneously. Hiring decisions are changed midstream.

And it all adds up to chaos for the job hunter, who can get disillusioned, confused and even start to think it’s actually them that there’s something wrong with.

Add to that a plethora of agencies vying for the same business and the picture gets even worse. On top of that add the ‘stories’ they tell you if you don’t get the job – anything but the truth, just to get you off their back – and you end up really confused.

Here’s what I suggested instead:

I’d suggest taking a more direct approach. Make it a project, over the next month, to research ‘cool’ organisations that do the stuff you want to be involved in. Find out about them. Find out about the people working there.

Define what it is that you could offer them in terms of skills/expertise – value. Find out who the decision makers are. And send them a personal letter (NO CV at this stage).

When you think about it it’s a logical common sense approach, yes? You effectively pre-empt. You get in on things way ahead of the game. Not many do it properly (they just send a CV and hope). They’re scared.

What do you think?

I say, take back control, take back the power. Be bold. Ask for what you want. Target it. Be smart. Get it.

By the way, the entire spirit of my coaching and learning programme Career & Success INNER CIRCLE is like what you’re reading here. And it provides step by step, practical methods for you to take this bolder, more proactive approach.

Go here for more: www.careerandsuccess.info

CV Writing Services

Have you considered having your CV written by someone? Be careful.

They say that it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert at something. And last week I had confirmed how true this is.

I got a call from “J”. He’d had his CV written by firm who call themselves the “career engineers”. I’m sure they’re great at something. Writing a CV is not that thing. I’m not going to run down their services (thus I haven’t given their name), variety is the spice of business.

However …

  • What “J” wanted was his successes/achievements included. They hadn’t been?!?
  • They’d also added their logo and advert to every page of his CV. (After he paid R800+)
  • The CV was 13 pages long, c’mon! we’re in the 21st century here!
  • There was no focus, no strategy, no careful thinking out of what the CV should achieve and what information was going to be best to include. It was just page after page of often irrelevant detail
  • And it started out like this: “J is a broad based specialist …” What is a “broad based specialist?” Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, for one thing? And secondly, what is it? How does it help an employer? Why should anyone care?

I’m not the best CV writer. I make some spelling mistakes. I leave out a full stop. But what’s critical for me is …

  • To get the strategy of the CV right – what’s it’s purpose, what’s the target?
  • To figure what detail will impress and influence an employer
  • To ask what will get immediate attention
  • To use fresh, strong words  to pep the reading up, add energy
  • To ask how can I format it or lay it out for maximum exposure and effect
  • And to uncover the real person behind the facts

Those are the big issues. A full stop can always be added. But these big issues take time and experience (10 000 hours!)  to resolve.

So be judicious. I can’t possibly write everyone’s CV and there are a few other good CV writers out there. But feel free to run something past me if you’re uncertain. Just contact me directly on gerard [at] jobsearching.co.za.

[By the way, I’m well into my 2nd 10 000 hours.]


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