Some enlightening facts and figures to start us off……… when it comes to CVs and getting yours noticed by a potential employer.
- Updated figures say that recruiters spend on average 5-7 seconds looking at a CV….
- First applications are received 200 seconds after a job is posted
- One spelling or grammar mistake and your CV will be chucked in the bin
- 88% job rejection rate if you have a photo of yourself on your CV
- One in three employers rejected candidates based on something they found about them online
- 68% of employers will find you on Facebook
- 17% chance that your cover letter will be read
- 76% of CVs are ignored if your email address is unprofessional
Getting your CV right is essential for any job-hunt success; it is the first stage of convincing a prospective employer that you are the one for the role.
GUIDE TO WRITING A STRONG CV
Your CV is the only thing that the employer has in their hand that will give him/her an impression about you. Hence, everything in a CV – the paper, the presentation, the language, and the overall look – describes you.
Even though the shorter CV is preferred, you should not cram the information to fit on one or two pages.
Your CV should be as long as it takes to tell your story without boring someone!
Put yourself in the reader’s position and ask yourself:
If this landed on my desk, would I read it? Would I find it interesting?
It should tell your story in a logical fashion
- Treat your name as the title of the document. After all, your CV is all about you.
- Head the CV with your full name, address, telephone numbers, and email address (make sure that this is a professional sounding email address). You DO NOT have to put your date of birth (refer to Age Discrimination Act)
- Make sure you can be contacted on your contact phone numbers. It is best practice not to include your work number.
- In some countries, a headshot is customary. However, in others, a photo of yourself is not required.
CV Summary Paragraph:
In this, you include information that is directly relevant to the role you are specifically applying for.
For example, it might say: ‘In my past two or three positions, I have elicited this change, I have achieved this much, and this is where I want to develop. It explains why you are a match for this position.’
Look at it from the client’s perspective; what are the major areas, in this role and in this business, where you can deliver improvement?
You do not need to go into massive amounts of detail. If you do it right, the summary section says:
Therefore….I am the solution to your problem
Employment History & Experience:
Only list the past 10 – 15 years’ experience
A CV should go back no more than between 10-15 years or your last 5-6 employment positions in reverse chronological order if within this time.
Quite simply, this is so your CV is concise and relevant. Recruiters are not interested in what you did 20 or 30 years ago
- Vocabulary should be achievement driven
- Avoid the use of words such as ‘duties’ or tasks.
- You are supposed to be able to do all the tasks, the question is why are you better than Mr. X as a Treasury Manager/Treasurer? Show how you have done more than what is expected and have performed better than your colleagues. Your contributions to the company and team should stand out.
- List your employment history starting with the most recent position first
- There should be no unexplained gaps/line of time in your CV
Use bullets rather than paragraphs
Use bullets to create a more readable CV.
How many Bullets?
Just like an old gun in the Cowboy Westerns – Max 6, 4 maybe, but 3 would be perfect!
They are summary statements that focus on solving the client’s problems/headaches.
Think of them like 3 Bullet Shaped Paracetamols shooting straight towards the client’s headaches/pains…
Duties are not the same as achievements
Your achievements are the things you did in a job which made a positive impact and contribution to the company.
They demonstrate to a potential employer that you can do the job well. On the other hand, the skills and knowledge you would be expected to have in order to perform your everyday work duties do not count as accomplishments, unless you can demonstrate specifically how you used them to benefit your employer.
Quantify your achievements
Accomplishments are not just an exaggerated way of describing your skills and experience, they are tangible proof of your past performance. They are most powerful when you quantify them using numbers or percentages, for example, the statement:
is much stronger if the reader knows by how much you increased sales:
‘increased sales by 15%’, or ‘increased sales by £10,000’.
If you don’t know the exact number it’s fine to estimate as long as you state that you are estimating and you are confident that the estimate is fairly accurate and would be confirmed if an interviewer asks a previous employer for a reference.
A simple checklist for creating achievements
Briefly write down the achievement, highlighting 3 key areas:
- Problem/Challenge: Under what circumstances or conditions did you do the work? Was there a tight deadline? Did you have to do it under stress or with no supervision? Did you have to take on an additional project while still maintaining your current workload?
- Action: What did you do, and what skills/abilities did you use, to take care of the situation? Be specific here, and use strong action verbs (See below List)
- Result: What was the result? Sometimes you can discover this by imagining what would have happened if the situation were not handled as well as you did. Examples of results could be increased revenue/sales, increased customer satisfaction, projects completed successfully (or within/under schedule/budget), increased efficiency, etc.
If you were not the person wholly or fully accountable for an achievement, indicate your role or contribution to it. Saying you “participated in” or were “involved” in something is not sufficient. An employer will rightly ask the question: “What was your role? What was your level of participation?”
Avoid weak and vague terms and phrases. Make your achievements as concrete and explicit as possible, while not getting bogged down in excessive detail.
Examples of well-expressed Achievements
- Successfully improved cash management process to centralise >80% and double interest income
- Managed more than 32m Euro cash position to close out at a net P&L gain more than $400k for the business
- Implementation of new consolidated global Citibank Corporate Credit Card with enhanced user functionality and business reporting tool suite. Successful negotiation of FX conversion savings of circa $280k per annum
- Built the Treasury department from scratch, to support its growth from 12 countries and 7 Bln. revenue to 42 countries and 28 Bln. of revenue.
- Reduced working capital by >80% by implementing a (notional) cash pool structure and optimizing the banking group.
- Development of a fully customized cash management application from scratch, for treasury forecasting, reconciliation, and settlement purposes (save annual license cost of 200k EUR)
- Renegotiating a EUR 1.5 bln financing structure reducing financing costs by 50%
Itemise any relevant qualifications in chronological order enables the employer to see what you have been up to recently.
List the IT skills you have i.e. Word, Excel, Outlook and all TMS’s you have used
How useful is the line ‘References available upon request’ at the end of your CV? Not very.
Across most countries, there is a mutual expectation between past and prospective employers that an exchange of references may be necessary when a new hire starts their role.
If your new employer wants a reference, they will ask for it, so use that space on the page for more important points to show recruiters what a great hire you would make.
This week we would like you to “Spring Clean” your CV. Work through the checklist we have provided and ensure that you have highlighted 5 key achievements minimum under each of your roles following our simple guide.
Employers hire employees generally for only three reasons:
- To solve a problem
- To make more profit
- A combination of both