Conversations with a Headhunter - creating a curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé on steroids
Headhunter and author Annette Kinnear puts forward the structuring of a CV that even a Superhero would be proud of!
This is a big question – how and what are the best ways to structure, present and organise an individual’s CV?
Job market research shows that anything, absolutely anything that falls out of the norm in a job application is not helpful. People often think their documentation must give expression to their creativity, but it has exactly the opposite effect, in almost every case. Therefore stay with a strong, traditional CV that outlines basic personal information, clearly and chronologically states all qualifications and then goes onto career history. Ambiguity or gaps will have the effect, that your CV will land at the bottom of the pile as it invites questions and complications. When a hiring decision maker has to leave the evaluation of your cv to his imagination, he will not proceed as fast as he would when a clear picture emerges for him.
A resume should be crisp and to the point and no longer than four to six pages.
Perhaps the most important and yet most often neglected part of the resume is what is extra-ordinary about the candidate in terms of hard facts. Avoid soft statements such as: hard worker, team player, good communicator. That goes without saying. Instead, your CV must focus on the tangible benefit to the hiring organisation, rather than your needs and ideals. Instead of providing a litany of features that define your profession or daily KPAs, keep that brief and extend the information to what’s in it for the employer. Therefore include a list of achievements for each position. This is incredibly hard to do as most of us focus on doing our work and give no thought to the consequences of our daily efforts. But it is not self-explanatory and is what will set you apart. Added to this is our human modesty. We are not comfortable with ‘bragging’ about our achievements and pride ourselves by saying, “I am only doing my job”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A job application is a sales transaction. You offer your skills – the employer buys them, or not. As in any sales presentation, unique features and benefits must be at the centre of the discussion. When you buy a car, the salesperson will not say, “This is a good car. It will get you nicely from A to B.” You know this already, you want to know more, right? How will it get you from A to B better than another car? How does the salesman substantiate this statement? What statistics and concrete information are available to prove this?
An achievement therefore must be concrete and expressed in money terms as this is the economic reality of the business world. It is not “voted as employee of the month three times in a row”. You can mention this, but more important is showing revenue generated or costs saved for the organisation. You may even need the help of a seasoned recruiter or career coach to help you extract this. I work as a career coach and recently assisted a candidate to restructure his cv in this way.
Originally the cv was worded in broad, generic terms like this:
My responsibilities included revenue generation through engaging with product developers to find more cost effective solutions, re-evaluating supplier channels and increasing personal buy-in in terms of reducing operating expenses.
Not too bad. The candidate makes a statement and then explains how he did it. We then complimented the above statement with the results, expressed as facts:
My responsibilities included revenue generation through engaging with product developers to find more cost effective solutions, re-planning supplier channels and increasing personal buy-in in terms of reducing operating expenses and headcount. Operating expenses for the division reduced from € 3.2 Million to € 1.76 Million – a saving of € 1.84 Million – 57.5 %. Overall organisational growth rate increased as follows: FY One: 3.7%. FY Two: 7.37%.
Which candidate would you invite for an interview first? This is the kind of information that excites entrepreneurs. When you apply, think like an employer, not like an employee and you can only win. You may think, but I am not in this league. My work is not significant enough to be directly translated into Euros and Cents. I assure you, it can be done. Your employer calculates your value like this all the time. Learning about your own value will not only improve your marketability but also your self-esteem and this also will have a positive effect on your success on the job market.
About: Annette Kinnear is the author of “Your Career Your Life”, Penguin 2009 and works as an international career coach. Her latest book “Headhunting – Bitte husten Sie, falls Ihr Chef gerade mithört” was launched in Germany in April 2013 and offers many valuable tips for candidates and employers that work with recruiters. 16 real life stories provide entertaining and humorous insight into the secret world of a headhunter.
Headhunting. Bitte husten Sie, falls Ihr Chef gerade mithört. ISBN: 978-3862652143, Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 259 pages, 9.90 Euro. www.annettekinnear.de