We spend around a third of our lives at work – therefore ensuring that our chosen career is both rewarding and fulfilling is vital. Some people know exactly what their vocation is – regardless of whether they have yet to fulfil it. For others, a niggling doubt exists that their current role is not what they want to be doing – but they struggle to figure out exactly what it is that they want to do.
January is an ideal time to make a career change. Feeling refreshed and invigorated after the holidays can help you make difficult decisions and drive your new job campaign. The ‘fresh start effect’ is not just true for individuals - many organisations have recruitment budgets that come into play in January and key decisions around recruitment that have been put on hold during the Christmas lull are revisited resulting in an increase in vacancies. For those looking to make a complete U-Turn, it is also a good time to start looking at options for studying – many colleges and learning centres offer a refreshed list of courses and open days for the New Year.
STEP 2 – CREATING AN IMPACTFUL CV
Your CV is a vital marketing tool. It allows prospective employers to see, at a glance, your skills, qualities, achievements and expertise. Importantly, it is the only part of the selection process that you have full control over – it is up to you what you allow a potential employer to see prior to meeting you. As such, it is essential that it is the strongest and most representative view possible.
The purpose of your CV is to get you an interview. It is not necessary to give every detail of your work and life experience – a recruiter will spend around 40 seconds looking at your CV in the first instance – therefore it must be short, punchy and emphasise only the most relevant information.
As well as the obvious – contact details, employment details, qualifications and education – make sure you place particular emphasis on:
Personal Profile – a great way to encourage a prospective employer to read on. Keep it brief – a single paragraph that summarises your personal qualities and strengths.
Achievements - Step 1 of the ‘Ready for a career change’ series highlights the need to understand key skills and strengths. Including previous achievements on your CV can highlight these skills and strengths and clearly demonstrate the value that you can add to a prospective employer.
To help you, think about tasks that you are proud of – start with your most recent job and work backwards. Write them down on a blank piece of paper – list the achievement, what you did, the skills or strengths used and the result. The most important measure of an achievement is whether it answers the ‘so what’ question – so what does it tell me about how you made a difference? So what does it tell me about how you did it?
Use these notes to create strong, impactful achievements that will demonstrate the contribution you made in your job as well as highlighting your strengths and skills.
Presentation - Pay close attention to presentation – spelling, grammar and good quality paper as well as a simple, clean format all speak volumes and give the impression of professionalism and care.
Give chapter and verse - Keep it short – 2 pages – 3 at absolute most. Keep paragraphs short and concise – if it doesn’t add value take it out!
Include irrelevant information – Marital status, weight and height, reasons for leaving and age should all be excluded – they have no bearing on whether or not you should be invited to interview – leave them out!
Use abbreviations or jargon - don’t forget that the person looking at your CV in the first instance could be a member of HR rather than the hiring manager. If they don’t understand the terminology you are using they won’t fully understand your skills and strengths – avoid jargon at all cost!