The first thing everyone does when they are thinking about updating their CV is get their old CV out.

As soon as you look at your old CV that’s now your frame of reference and will cloud your mind as soon as you start thinking about roles, responsibilities, jobs, wins, losses. Your new CV will have all the same mistakes, issues, forgotten achievements that your old CV did.

Your old CV is also just that, old. Leave it alone to start with and try something else. Give yourself the chance of a clean slate and spend half an hour on this exercise before getting your old CV out.

Your old CV is really useful for dates, memory jogs, format but you want to update it, so make sure you do that one thing. Bring it up to date. Otherwise, you’re effectively taking your 1999 Nokia and sticking an SLR to it. Not quite the camera phone you were looking for!

Before you start get yourself

  • a piece of paper and pen or your laptop and a blank word document
  • a cup of tea or coffee, beer, wine whatever’s your tipple
  • half an hour of quiet time

Step I Brain Storm

So instead of having something helpful jogging your memory you’re now looking at a blank piece of paper. A different challenge but bear with me!! But the point of this exercise is to use your clear mind to think about:

  • What you did in the job. What were you responsible for?
  • How you did it?
  • What that accomplished?

Go through each role you’ve had from memory (don’t cheat and use the CV) and answer those three questions for each role. You’ll end up with a weirdly, complicated list under each role that have no format or structure. That’s exactly what we’re looking for – good content…

Tips: Memory Jogging.

My memory is horrific, so I need to think about things sideways and ask lots of different questions to jog it to remember things:

  • What projects was I involved in?
  • What were my team responsible for?
  • What was I most proud of?
  • What was the company most proud of?
  • What did my appraisals focus on?
  • Was I nominated for awards?
  • How did I know I was doing a good job?

Step II – Turning Notes into Sexy Quantitative Content

Take each bullet point and turn it into a sentence with the subject near the beginning and the deliverable at the end. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Actually, when you get the hang of it, it is.

Try and a get a number in there too. People are generally numerical people which is why politicians use numbers to confuse everyone! Use that to become more memorable.

(The reason you are doing this is so people reading your CV can skip read it really fast to get to the bit they want to read about. If the subject is at the end they have to read everything and will run out of time before they get to the killer keyword that is going to get you the interview.)

Step III Language

  • Put everything in the past tense (unless you are still doing it)
  • Try and add pro-active language into each bullet point.

ie

From

Work with existing sales channels and find new business – golf clubs, Taste of London, Good Food.

To

Drove sales growth across both new and existing sales channels. Identified an opportunity with Exclusive Members Clubs aligned to our core proposition of “Foodies” and developed a creative sales proposition to demonstrate our food proposal, driving sales up through both channels by 22%.

Subject – sales, right at the front.

Step IV Create your Great CV

Now you can allow yourself to open your old CV and add your new bullet points to each role you’ve got listed. Depending on how your old CV looked they may look considerably different so take some time and re-arrange the old bullet points you have with the rules above or remove them whichever works.

Step V Send it out…

Most important tips:

Never stress about it. If you’re stressed, write down what you want to talk about then leave it alone. Do a different part of your CV or make a cup of tea. Come back to it and your sub-conscious will probably have had an idea.

Stick with these simple rules and you’ll be fine:

  • Brain Storm
  • Subject at the front
  • Get a number in there somewhere
  • Past tense
  • Pro-active language

 

Andy Wilkinson – LinkedIn