inside track: Make CVs short and to the point

A concise, memorable resumé is essential to get you your perfect job.

A concise, memorable resum é is essential to get you your perfect job.

The new year is a time to think about your career, and, so far, this year has seen an increasing shortage of jobs. But the jobs are out there.

Here are my tips for ensuring your name, e-mail and paperwork leap to the top of the pile:

  • Build a reputation and profile

  • Include a short, snappy cover note. One paragraph on why you are applying - focusing on the top three qualities being sought, and how you have them in spades

  • Include a quote about you from someone else, a short reference. Being recommended by another is a thousand times more powerful than recommending yourself.

Then, of course, we come to the major influence - your CV. Make sure you have a CV that stands out from the rest, and echoes confidence, excellence and personality.

Almost all CVs are:

  • Too long (I think of them every time I see a tree)

  • Faultless in track record (but even the best managers have made mistakes, and have learnt from them)

  • Boring (be professional, but not totally mind-numbing. When you read your own CV, do you feel inspired?)

  • Not focused on specific opportunities (scattergun approaches fail)

  • Brilliant at hiding the most relevant achievements (the proverbial needle in a haystack would be easier to find).

The ideal CV:

  • Has a maximum of two pages, ideally one (less is more, every time)

  • Starts with a short biography about yourself - 50 words - written in the first or third person

  • Talks about your achievements, highlighting those most relevant, but also including lessons you have learned. For example, nine out of 10 IT projects fail to deliver, and yet I have never seen an IT project manager's CV that includes anything other than total success

  • Is interesting - include a section about you as a person. In future, companies will recruit far more on the basis of character than competency.

Having submitted your CV, be persistent. Follow up every application with a phone call. It shows you are keen, and ensures your application is looked at again. But beware of online services that do little more than process applications. Ask whether the person handling the position has inside knowledge of the industry.

The recruitment industry will this year be more of a jungle than ever. Make sure you submit an application and CV that are easy to remember, not difficult to forget.

Adapted for Computer Weekly from The Naked Leader

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