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Crafting a great CV

Crafting a great CV

Posted on May 2020 By Larisa Todd

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The last few weeks has certainly been a challenging time for so many of our candidates and clients - some have had their contracts cut short, roles have gone on hold and others have been made redundant. 

I've spoken to so many talented and experienced marketers who are feeling incredibly vulnerable and anxious during this time, and I wish we had enough opportunities to support them. Whilst I can't find all of them roles right now, I and the Stopgap team are here to help as much as we can.

A lot of my conversations have included CV advice and guidelines so I thought that I'd share some top-line tips that might be helpful. This has come out of many years of reviewing CVs, both at Stopgap and throughout my agency days.

If anyone would like a more in depth chat about your CV, job search or just a general catch-up, I'd love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I hope it's not too long before we can be calling you about some great opportunities.

CV Top-line Tips

One key message that I've said to so many candidates is that "writing a CV is a project in itself, so give it the time it needs". Treat it as if you were finalising a presentation or writing a brief for a creative campaign. It takes time to get it right! 

The Structure

Keep the introduction short - a succinct summary of your experience; a short paragraph or a couple of key bullet points and remember to make it relevant to the role you're applying for.

Some of the best introductions I've read have been like a story, a journey that makes me want to find out more ....

Give the HR manager or hiring lead a reason to want to read on - as they say, you only have a couple of seconds to grab their interest, before they're onto the next CV.

Career History 

I like to get to the career history early on in the CV, the 1st page is ideal.

Start with your most recent role and work through your career history.

Whilst we need to understand your core role and responsibilities, the CV doesn't need to read like a job description. Bring your experience to life - if you launched a new FMCG brand, tell us about it, what was your involvement with this launch, how successful was it, keep it authentic.

Remember you'll be up against so many other candidates, especially in our current market, many will have similar experience so you need to ensure that it's not too generic. Your CV should give the reader a little bit of 'you' and your personality should come through.

When I read a CV, I always think 'so what,' the previous candidate said the same thing. Always ask yourself, is this the best I can do to promote myself and my experience. This is the one time where we can talk about our achievements and our successes with the ultimate aim of securing a role, or the very least a call back or an email expressing, we want to find out more about you.

CVs can be 2 - 3 pages or even longer, depending on the number of years of experience - as long as the content is relevant and not too wordy. It's also OK to have white space on the page - we prefer that! A graphically designed CV looks good, but a well laid out word doc is equally effective.

When outlining your experience, a brief descriptor of who the company is, what they specialise in, is worth including, especially if it's a Company overseas or a small independent agency, that some may not have heard of - a one line descriptor is all that is required.

When you're outlining your experience, think of how much content you include for each role - eg. if you've contracted for just 3 months, you won't need to include as much detail as if you worked somewhere for 3 years.

If you've worked for 20 years or so, it's not necessary to go into detail for every role however I do like to see your career progression. You can add just one or two lines for your roles earlier in your career and then flesh out the last 8 - 10 years with a little more detail. 

If there are periods of time throughout your career to travel, have a family, study - that's OK - do include this as the hiring manager will only ask, why are there gaps in your CV? We can all have some time out to progress our lives in other ways!

Do include your education, relevant courses you've completed and those that you're still enrolled in, and of course any interests. Interests can be a good icebreaker in an interview.

Read the job description thoroughly and do some research where possible on the client and the brand to ensure your CV is relevant. So often I see the same candidate, with the same CV for roles that are so different. If only some time was spent to review the JD first and update details accordingly.

Don't rely on the covering letter alone or your LinkedIn profile to help you secure a role. We don't always know the internal hiring processes for businesses so always think, have I done the best I can throughout the application process for this role. 

One final tip, do ensure your LinkedIn profile is consistent with the roles/dates as they appear on your CV. 

That's my top line tips to get you started. Once you've completed this - you're well on your way to continuing your career and kicking goals!

Good luck and please get in touch if you'd like to chat further - larisa.todd@stopgap.com.au