The Secret Ingredient to Your CV
Meet Jake, a recent graduate who wanted to conquer the ever-competitive graduate market with his CV. What did he learn? One trick in the book that isn't always focused on...
After I graduated, I wanted to go on to do a Masters but I thought as a backup I would apply for some jobs. If you have currently been applying for jobs after finishing Uni you might have found what I did, - the lack of response you get from employers is limited. Luckily, I got onto my Masters course and so the next year of my life sorted itself out. But I was still shocked at the lack of response my CV had received. I decided not to kick the can down the road and I would continue to work on my CV during my masters. From this I learnt that the most important thing you can do to improve your CV is to keep re-writing it.
There is a lot of advice out there for how to write a good CV. You have classic advice such as: put your contact details at the top; include a profile; proof read it; and use this text as a chance to develop your personal brand. This is all invaluable advice and you can’t ignore it. But this does not guarantee your vest CV. This is because writing a CV is hard.
The challenge with the CV is that it needs to be the simplest, easiest and most fluid summary of you professionally, and also capture your character overall. You are never going to be able to do this first time. When you first write a CV, it is hard to create something simple and straight forward to read. This is because you approach the text as its writer, not its reader. This is why re-writing is so valuable as you will view your old CV from the perspective of a reader and edit it accordingly. This will make your CV more readable, and the better it reads, the better it sells you.
You also need to edit it to a new job every time, this forces you to make real changes to your CV. Doing this helps you to look over your CV with a more critical eye, doing this will mean you take a more ‘reader centric’ approach, which is the perspective of the person you’re trying to impress.
When I first did this, I couldn’t believe how much my CV missed what I was trying to communicate. It was so wordy, and it was more informative than persuasive. I won’t go into a full break down of everything wrong it, but if you do this exercise yourself you will see what I am talking about - you won’t just see it in your first draft either. I did this exercise of writing a new CV once a week and every time I was amazed at how much I wanted to change from the last CV I had written.
You should also send your CV out to your friends and family, this is a great way of getting others to feedback on how it reads. Admittedly what you get back is a mixed bag; some ideas you will love others you will hate. This is good though, as the changes you choose to use vs. the changes you don’t will show you what you want your CV to say about yourself and help you pin down your personality and professional brand that you want to sell.
Anyway, I did all this for the first term of my Masters and it worked! Come January I had a part-time internship set up working in the London office of a Charity.
There is no short-cut to writing a good CV, no easy top-tip that will make your CV the best out there. Like everything in life, it is about practice. The more you work at it the better it will become. The best way to get a good CV is to view it as a document that is never finished, you can always find a way to improve it – often, the more professional experience you get, the easier this will become. But I promise you this, if you do put in the hard-work initially you will be rewarded, and will have found your great starting point.
Our Recruitment Wizard, and Strategic Lead for Emerging Talent at MyKindaFuture, has a vintage video of CV writing - it's old but gold. In his expansive understanding of the graduate market, including employer trends and student errors, he put all of his wisdom into a 4-minute clip. Thank us later: youtube.com/watch?v=glVu3FU1wRE&t=7s