Brevity and honesty will give your CV style

Becoming a team leader in the third millennium won't be easy, and so as the jobs season approaches David Taylor looks at the...

Becoming a team leader in the third millennium won't be easy, and so as the jobs season approaches David Taylor looks at the perfect CV

David Taylor

Inside Track

September is always a month when our eyes start to wander towards the recruitment pages in Computer Weekly, the Sunday Times, and of course online. The volume of senior IT vacancies this autumn will be higher than ever, as will the number of Web services to help fill them.

This column has often discussed the key skills you will need to be an IT leader of the 3rd millennium, and covered in repeated depth what organisations must do to attract, motivate and retain their people.

However, how do you make sure you are short-listed for interview?

Having recently been involved in some very influential positions, here are my tips for ensuring your name, e-mail and paperwork leap to the top of the pile.

  • Build a reputation and profile

  • A short, snappy and relevant cover note. One paragraph (maximum 50 words) 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 is a thousand times more powerful than recommending yourself

    Then of course we come to the major influence - your CV. Make sure you have the sort of CV that stands out from the crowd, and echoes three things: confidence, excellence and personality.

    Most (95%) CVs are:

  • Too long

  • Faultless in track record (The best leaders of tomorrow have made mistakes - but have also learned from those errors)

  • Boring (Yes, be professional, but not totally mind-numbing)

  • Not focused on specific opportunities (Scatter gun approaches fail)

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

    The ideal CV should be:

  • Absolute maximum of two pages, ideally one

  • Start with a short biography about yourself - 50 words - written in the first or third person, this does not matter, but be consistent

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

  • Include a section about you as a person - in future companies will recruit far more on the basis of character than on ability

  • Follow up every application with a phone call. It will show you are keen, and ensure your application is looked at again. Very few people do

  • When you phone, ask whether the person handling the position has inside knowledge of the industry.

    The recruitment industry has always been a jungle, but this autumn trawling it will be hotter than ever.

    For every position, you have one chance, so submit an application and CV that is easy to remember.

    David Taylor's Inside Track. A provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. The book is the latest in the Computer Weekly Professional Series, published by ButterworthHeinemann: 01865-88180

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