Working Transitions

5 minutes with personal career manager nicky clayden

Welcome to our new monthly series - ‘5 minutes with…’  -  quick, chatty interviews with specialists working across HR, Recruitment and Transition.

This week we talk to Nicky Clayden – Nicky is a Personal Career Manager based in Working Transitions’ Head Office.  Nicky has supported thousands of individuals going through redundancy or organisational change to secure an alternative role.  We asked Nicky how important an effective CV is in the overall job search.

Hi Nicky, can you describe your day to day role?

In a nutshell, I work with clients from all sectors and backgrounds at all levels.  I help people who are either at risk of redundancy -  or currently in a redundancy situation - with any aspect of their job search.  I provide the advice, help and support needed to increase people’s chances of getting back into the workplace as soon as possible or, where appropriate, exploring other options such as self-employment or retirement.

In the overall job search how important is an effective CV?

It’s the most important thing.  In the vast majority of cases, the CV is going to be the first thing that a potential employer sees about you – at this early stage a potential employer or recruiter doesn’t know anything about you as a person - all that they can see is what’s written down on the document in front of them.  If that document is not a true representation, or isn’t selling you effectively, then you are reducing the chances of getting to interview.

All clients are different, Are there any commonly asked questions?

There’s a few – firstly, for clients that have been out of work for a while – should they try and fill or bridge that gap?  I would recommend the creation of a skills-led CV – this means that their CV focuses on their key skills – an employer will see these first – and their career summary will sit toward the back of the document.   Chances are, if a potential employer likes what they see on page 1 and you’ve ticked most of the boxes they are less likely to focus on the career summary. 

Common concerns include age -  I usually advise clients to only go back 15-20 years in their career summary if they are particularly worried that their age will go against them.  My view on ageism is that it is not as rife as people sometimes feel. Companies these days really tend to value not only peoples experience but life skills too.   There are lots of valuable benefits to employing someone who is slightly more mature and I think more and more employers are starting to really appreciate this.

Another concern is from people who have been in the same field of employment for a long time and now want to explore alternative opportunities – perhaps in a different field.  They will have a lot of transferable skills but they are not always able to see how to present these.  It’s often about changing the wording on your CV and removing industry specific wording and terminology.

Typically, where do people go wrong with their CV’s?

Usually, it’s the length of their CV – I’ve seen CV’s of 6 or 7 pages!  Some CV’s tell an individual’s life history and is written as an individual would speak – too much story telling.  The skills and achievements get lost amongst so many words! 

Another common mistake is that the actual information regarding skills and experience is too brief – lots of words but not enough detail about the actual skill or achievement.

People often don’t tailor their CV – they produce a document that details what they have done and they use this for every single job application – regardless of the role.  They assume that the recruiter wants to see everything – actually, the recruiter wants to be able to quickly and easily identify skills and achievements relevant to the particular role that is being advertised. 

How long does the average recruiter spend looking at a CV in the first instance?

A maximum of 40-50 seconds.  At the initial sifting stage the CV will just be skimmed over. Often, it is not  the hiring manager looking at the CV – it may be someone from HR or Personnel who has been given a copy of the job description and asked to select CV’s that match, say,  80% of the required skills.  This highlights the importance of tailoring your CV to the job description!!

The sifter is looking for relevant information – they may not ‘look outside the box’ for other transferable skills.

Where do you feel that you add the most value to clients?

I don’t think there’s one specific area – each individual that I speak to is at a different stage in their journey.  Different individuals need different things – it may be a great CV, some interview support or training or some help rebuilding their confidence.

If you could give one tip for a truly effective CV what would it be?

Tailored to the role.  Uncluttered, well spaced out and presented, easy to read and clearly demonstrates competencies.  That’s more than one isn’t it!

You mentioned ‘well presented’ – how important do you feel this is compared to the content?

I’d actually say it’s equally important.  Poor spelling and grammar are big negatives to a recruiter.  Different fonts, sizes, borders etc can look messy and be distracting.  Often, CV's are e-mailed across to the recruiter but, if you are sending a copy, use a good quality paper – it gives the right impression and looks professional.  Remember, at this stage, the CV is all the recruiter has to go on so make sure it reflects you well.

What do you find most rewarding about your role?

The redundancy situation can be very stressful – it is alien to most people who perhaps have not been through it before.  When people are struggling and unsure of what to do next giving advice and support that you genuinely know is going to make a positive difference to them, and their outcome, is hugely rewarding.  I enjoy building peoples confidence and helping them both emotionally and practically to get where they want to go.

Thank you Nicky!

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Working Transitions
03 February 2017
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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