Bouncing back from Redundancy 3: Constructing an effective CV

 In Careers, Redundancy

Article 3 in a series of 5 which offers a few simple tints and hips to help you cope with redundancy if it happens to you. Hopefully it won’t, but unfortunately it seems to happen rather indiscriminately, so better prepared than not. After all when is the best time to book your holiday hotel, 6 months before the holiday or when you get there?

Part three of our series on How To Bounce Back From Redundancy shows you what to consider in order to construct an effective curriculum vitae, if the unthinkable happens to you.

3.1: General Points About Your CV

If you lose your job for whatever reason, one of your first tasks will be to construct an effective CV. There are various different types of CV referred to as chronological, functional, schematic and graphic. The last three are used for special career situations and to address specific self-marketing strategies and you may need one or more of these, but you will definitely need a chronological CV which is the focus of this brief article.

IF you ask 30 people how to write a perfect CV you’ll get at least 31 different answers – guaranteed! Some will be good, some bad. None will be perfect but some will be more effective than others – the question is which?

Remember that a CV is a marketing document – so don’t cram it full of detail. It really is a taster rather than a life history: it should be tempting the reader to find out more. Remember also that a CV should be a personal expression of what you are like and what you have done. You must be familiar with each and every statement in it and even if you seek professional advice, it should be in a linguistic style you are comfortable with. Think for a moment about that last sentence: the last phrase could end with:-

……….in a linguistic style with which you are comfortable.

or ……in a linguistic style that you are comfortable with.

or ……in a linguistic style that suits you.

or ……in a linguistic style which you find agreeable.

or ……in a linguistic style you are comfortable with.

These examples are themselves in different linguistic styles and have varying degrees of grammatical accuracy: some readers will prefer the first, others the last. The point is that you should use the one which most closely matches your own style and not the one you think will look or sound most impressive.

Keep this in mind even if you are seeking professional help and guidance: make sure your CV has your style and your stamp of approval.

3.2: Responsibilities And Achievements

A good CV should arouse curiosity and a need to know more. Of course it should include responsibilities but more than that it should concentrate on what you did with the responsibilities you had.

Before you start on your CV try the AAA approach.

Write down as many of your achievements as you can think of. Now split each achievement into three headings with short punchy statements on each of the following:

The Assignment you were given, the Action you took and the Accomplishment which resulted.

Combine the actions with the accomplishments and this will give you achievements which become the building blocks for describing your time with company X. You should finish up with achievements that read something like the following examples:

* Devised and implemented a new sales training programme which resulted in a 43% increase in new business.

* Streamlined the stock control system and introduced a JIT supply system that released £2.3m to the bottom line over 2 years.

* Introduced a company travel logging system which, when adopted throughout the company, saved over £27,000 per year over the last 3 years.

* Implemented a marketing strategy that allowed the company to double its market share to 8% over a two year period.

Note the action verbs, the use of numbers and the result orientation of each statement. What you now have are the bones of the CV upon which you can start to build the final document.

3.3: The Structure Of Your CV

The following are not rules, they are guidelines and there will be plenty of exceptions for individual careers where other structures may be more appropriate and more effective. But if you choose not to seek professional help then these guidelines will give you a good basic CV.

The first page starts with PERSONAL DETAILS: full name, location indicator such as town or county or part post code, mobile number and personal e-mail address. Note that what to include has changed over the years. When Proteus started advising clients over 25 years ago we included your full home address, a home ‘phone number, your age, date of birth and marital status, including any children. None of these are now needed or recommended.

Next is a 3 to 5 line PROFILE telling the reader what sort of person they are reading about, for example:

A marketing director with ten years experience of several different business sectors ranging from consumer electronics to building products. Recent activities have included the development of an international marketing strategy based, the introduction of advanced market research techniques, competitor analyses and consumer perception surveys.

Follow this with a section on EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONSincluding a note of universities or colleges attended, professional qualifications, courses attended and any language skills. Complete the page with a CAREER SUMMARY giving names of employers, appointments and dates.

The remainder of the CV gives the CAREER HISTORY section using the achievement bullets you constructed using the AAA Approach: it should be in reverse chronological order.

3.4: A Few CV Do’s and Don’t’s

Do: check that your CV is accurately reproduced and legible when you send it as a soft copy by e-mail. Not all of the recipients will be using the same software as you, so send it to a few friends who use different systems and ask them what it looks like.

Don’t: make your CV more than 2 pages long if at all possible.

Do: proof read it at least twice – preferably aloud. If you failed to spot the Spoonerism in the first few lines of this post then it would probably be a good idea to ask someone else to proof read it as well as reading it twice yourself.

Don’t: have only one CV. Modify and customize it to suit each particular application.

Do: include a covering letter or e-mail if you are using the CV to apply for an advertised position. Indicate why they should choose you.

Don’t: include a photograph. Even if you do look like Keira Knightley or Tom Cruise this is not the reason they will be employing you.

Do: keep your creativity in check. Avoid coloured folders and fancy paper and stick to standard typefaces.

Don’t: keep your CV, or indeed anything to do with your job search, on a computer, laptop or other device owned by your company.

Do: make sure it is your personal e-mail address only, that appears on your CVs, letters and e-mails.

In our next issue the topic concerns “Your Search Campaign”: and if you found this article useful, then save it against possible future need and please feel free to share it with your connections.

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