We have all heard the saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” When referring to the hiring process, some candidates seem to believe that this only applies to interviews. However, the truth is that they are not even present during their actual first impression, as that is conveyed by their CV.
Since hiring managers can often receive a large number of applications, it is vital to craft an effective document that is not just a robotic summary of work-life, but rather a persuasive tool demonstrating exactly why they would be the perfect choice for that position.
Whilst the overall look can immediately capture the recipient’s attention, it is how the information is presented that will make them decide whether to find out more about the person behind it. Ultimately, there are three types of CVs based on the way the information is organised.
A title- or headline-based layout can be a practical choice because, just by glancing at it, it gives us an overview of the individual’s work history, showcasing their experience in the same or related roles. However, many candidates can come from similar backgrounds; therefore, if a CV relies on headlines only, it won’t be effective at all. Candidates should move away from the illusory idea that a job title is a clear indicator of what tasks and skills are required in the position. Each headline should be followed by a short paragraph or bullet-points that clearly detail the role responsibilities, deal list (where applicable) and achievements.
There is a thin line between an effective improvement of a bare, title-based layout and a lazy, mock job description. A responsibility-based CV is generally seen as a better thought-out choice than the former category, but it could present the candidate as delivering only average performance who simply copied and pasted their previous job description. After all, many employees should technically be in charge of something, but their day-to-day work-life does not actually reflect this. A responsibility-based CV that doesn’t provide tangible examples could end up looking like a vague list of buzzwords, leaving the hiring manager wondering whether it showcases the actual reality.
At Altus Partners we believe that, when written correctly, this is the most effective CV. It follows the pattern “Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z.” An achievement-based CV is clearly written with a hiring manager’s perspective in mind, as it gives specific and measurable examples of how a candidate achieved particular results. For instance, rather than a generic “responsible for the company accounts” or “produced pitch-books for deal origination purposes”, an X-Y-Z CV would say: “Personally led new initiative to drive down the time spent on pitch-book preparation, by implementing an automation tool to add key data points easily from larger data sets. This saved over 3 hours per book and is now used widely across the business”.
We encourage all candidates to move away from the misconception that a CV is a simple list of job titles that can be used for multiple applications. It should be considered as a meticulously crafted document that shows us why a candidate is the best choice for that particular position, providing tangible examples of what they actually achieved during their time with different companies.
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