The most common weakness I encounter when reviewing CVs is the tendency for people to just list their job responsibilities. You do need to state what you did, but most importantly, you need to show how well you did it.
Now, not all of us have bounded through the corporate ranks and had stellar career. Nevertheless, your CV has to sell what you have done, irrespective of whether you are a school-leaver or have 30 years’ experience. The best way to do this is to quantify your experience. Employers are trying to gather evidence as to why you might be worth meeting and so you have to give them something tangible to work with.
For example, which is more impressive?
Managed company switchboard OR managed company switchboard with 12 incoming lines, answering and re-routing up to 200+ calls a day
Numbers are the best way to quantify what you have done and they can be applied to almost any job. How much did you make/save for your company? How many meals did you serve a day? Did you arrange the office Christmas party? For how many people? What percentage of your students passed their exams?
Using adjectives such as dynamic, hard-working etc is fine, but we could all use words like that to describe ourselves. By using numbers and percentages, you are concretely backing up your claims and painting a picture for the reader.
When stating numbers in your CV, use figures, not words; use % not per cent. It may go against general writing conventions, but you only have two pages to state your case, and figures make your CV snappier and easier to read.
Hyperlinks to the websites of companies you have worked for can be a useful way of contextualising and quantifying your jobs – once the companies have impressive websites. This is particularly important if you are applying for work abroad – what may be a household name in Ireland could be unknown in the UK.
It’s also a good idea if you are applying for a job in a different industry, but the company has a similar scale and culture to one of your previous employers.
So, run through your CV one more time, ditch the adjectives and add some honest numbers and relevant hyperlinks instead. When you’re called for interview, they’ll also help you focus your preparation and pre-empt possible questions.
Rachael Kilgallon is a qualified career coach and founder of The Career Hub. Contact Rachael at [email protected] or visit www.thecareerhub.ie.