Marginal Gains: Ways To Improve Your CV and Kick Start Your Career (Part 2)
Saturday 13th March 2021
Jamie Hughes - CV Writer For Your CV Consultant
About the Author
Jamie Hughes is an independent CV Writer and also writes CV's for Your CV Consultant. In his book, Marginal Gains: 88 Ways To Improve Your CV and Kick Start Your Career, he offers some great tips and advice which is a must read before you send off your next CV. In this second part of our serialisation of his book, we have given you '4 more key Gains' to set you on the correct path when constructing your CV.
Marginal Gain 5: Screw you passport!
There is no more important document in your life than your CV. A birth certificate may prove your existence. A passport may allow you access to the world. Neither can change your life and the lives of those you care for.
A well written CV can unlock doors to better jobs leading to more money and greater career prospects that improve the quality of life for you and yours. If there is one single thing worth putting in as much effort to as possible it is your CV.
It is that important.
Read this book. Review your CV. If you still don't feel it is as good as it can be then seek out someone who can make it that way such as professional CV writer.
Marginal Gain 6: It's Alive!!!
Never see your CV like it is carved in a stone tablet.
Your CV should evolve like you do and as your career does. Always add in new experiences, skills and projects completed as you do them otherwise, you may forget them as you move onto new work projects.
Resist the temptation however to just add new things in forever. Every few years rewrite your CV from scratch. You will have changed and your skills and knowledge will have upgraded. Your CV needs to reflect that and particularly the Professional Profile.
I see many CVs that have just been added to over the years but it is the same basic format and content since the one written straight out of education. Think about it like a house. Would you buy a house with a dodgy extension and half-baked loft conversion? Or would you prefer a house that looks complete and part of a whole? A CV is no different.
You will also need to shape your CV to target the role or industry you want to move into next. Some aspects of your career and skill set will be critical and will need highlighting. Others will not be as crucial and can be reduced or even removed.
You should always have a CV that is fit for purpose and is the best tool for the target audience. A living CV is one you shape to meet your objectives. A key part of that is having a Master CV. What is one of those? Keep reading.
Marginal Gain 7: The Master CV
A Master CV is the version of your CV that contains everything.
Every role in depth, every qualification or piece of Continuous Professional Development you have completed all in one version. This is the version you continue to update and if necessary revise completely as your career requires it.
The purpose of the Master CV is to have everything you need in one place. Once you have identified a role you want to apply for then you look at the key requirements, skills and experience required by that role and shape your CV to best suit it.
This sometimes can involve adding or removing details in an existing job description to best suit the role you are now targeting. For example if you are now targeting customer facing roles but have mostly worked in administration you may adjust your duties on the CV to more clearly highlight the element of the role where you working with customers or other departments. This is not being deceptive. Most jobs have numerous elements to them. All you are doing is highlighting the elements most relevant to the career you are targeting and not focusing on others.
Not all the qualifications or training you have done will be relevant going forward. By having everything in your Master CV nothing gets forgotten but some pieces can be removed based on relevance and/or space requirements.
Having a Master CV is like a sculptor starting with a large piece of marble. You have all the raw materials in front of you and now you just need to chip away and shape to the vision you are looking for.
When I work with my clients I often prepare different versions of their CV that suit different industries. It is perfectly acceptable to have a CV file that contains a Master CV and several different versions that suit different types of jobs or industries.
Marginal Gain 8: To thy own self be true
Of all my marginal gains this one is the most challenging but the most likely to lead you onto the path to have a long and successful career.
You have to know yourself. You need to know who you are, what you want and what you are capable of. Finally, you need to sell that consistent vision across a CV, cover letter, application form and interview.
Many people really struggle with this so please don't worry if the thought of it sends you into a panic. I have been in so many interviews when I have asked a question along the lines of 'Tell me about yourself' or 'Why should you work for this company' and most people really struggle. Very often when you dig and probe you uncover a myriad of skills and experience. The CV reader does not get that opportunity. What they read is what they get. It is so important to make the very best of what you have.
Once you have internalised your key attributes that make you good at what you do then they can be used everywhere. Not just your CV...application forms, interviews, LinkedIn profiles and even chance conversations in lifts and on trains. The chance conversation that changed my career was in the tinned goods aisle in the supermarket!
So here is how to do it...
Blank piece of paper. Silence. No TV, children or significant other.
Write down what you are good at, what your skills are and what you are qualified in.
Review your current job and previous roles. What did you have to be good at/know how to do in those positions? What skills do you need at home? In your hobby? As a volunteer?
If the list still seems slim speak to family, friends and colleagues. Ask 'What am I good at? What would you ask my advice on?'
This should lead you to your list.
A good list comprises of the soft skills such as (but not exclusively)
Working under pressure
Or skills you have earned through experience and/or training.
Able to prioritise
Customer service skills
Once you have this list of skills and abilities then you can use these to shape the content of your CV.
Keep that list handy please...
If you would like to read more 'Marginal Gains' these can be found in Jamie's book, Marginal Gains: 88 Ways To Improve Your CV and Kick Start Your Career. In addition if you would like to discuss your CV in more detail email firstname.lastname@example.org or click Your CV Consultant and see how we can help you to kick start your career!