CV Writing for Experienced Candidates - Where do you even start?

Preparing your CV can be a daunting challenge no matter how much experience you have in your chosen field. 

Once the decision is made to start looking at the market the prospect of putting together a CV can be enough to make you change your mind!

Before you even begin I always advise candidates to spend some time looking at different job specifications. This allows you to focus on the type of role you are looking for.

When you identify one that catches your interest (and is something you feel you’re qualified for) build your CV around this. 

Look carefully at the requirements of the role and mirror this from your own experience. 

When it comes to submitting your CV, one size doesn’t fit all but it’s important to spend some time putting together a core document. This may be time consuming initially but will be worth it in the end.

Tailor your CV to each position that you’re applying for, reflecting the language used and highlighting the experience that is directly relevant to the role. 

It doesn’t have to be two pages but the most important information should all appear on the front page. 

I’m a big fan of a “Professional Profile”, a short paragraph at the beginning that summarises the information below. It should briefly list years of experience, professional qualifications and industry experience as well as providing a few lines of a career summary. This allows the reader to get a feel for the applicant but should be interesting enough to encourage them to read on. 

When you’ve been in the workplace for over 20 years it can seem hard to reduce a wealth of experience to a few pages. A CV is a door opener and should hit the right notes, these can then be expanded on in an interview. 

If you’re looking for permanent employment your two most recent roles are the most relevant. Briefly introduce the company and then describe your role there by title followed by bullet points. The information should be easy to read, if the type is small and the document is densely written it’s unlikely that someone will battle through. 

It should almost feel like the relevant information is jumping off the page rather than something that has to be combed through with a magnifying glass. Try to remember that it’s likely your CV will be one of many read that day and you want it to be easy on the eye!

Earlier or more junior roles don’t need to be included in any great detail. The only exception I’d make to this point is to say that if the industry or work experience is directly relevant to the role you want, then include it.

The same goes for hobbies and interests. A brief mention is fine but if it’s not relevant to the role then it’s not so important that you were captain of the schools debating team! 

Use the CV to answer any questions that may arise on reading. If you have a gap in your career a few lines explaining it is better than hoping that the missing year won’t be noticed!

I don’t think that references should be included on a CV. Your referees can make the difference between whether or not you get a role. If they’ve received 10 calls to talk about how wonderful you are they may not be so patient when the important call comes. 

Remember, you may be or may have been in a hiring position. Think about what you want to see from a CV. Taking the time to write an interesting and relevant document is actually a form of interview preparation! It focusses the mind and allows you to mentally prepare for questions that may arise when you’re face to face. 

Good luck with the search!

 

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