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Stuck in a rut? How to bring your CV back to life

For some of us we receive advice on our CV’s when we leave School or University. I know I made the most of the free careers service available to me during my formal education years.

However fast forward a decade since graduating, and apart from searching for general tips online and the occasional check by a relative or friend some of us are still using the same CV format.

That was the situation I was in, and then I’d get frustrated why my CV’s and cover letters were not being shortlisted, when I knew I matched every part of the job description. I was looking for that next step in my career – staying in the same sector/industry but just looking for the next level up. I can’t tell you how many times the feedback I received was “you just need more experience”.

It came to a point where I was stuck in a rut. Lacking a challenge in my current position but still ambitious for change. Build Potential provided the timely expertise to bring my CV back to life again.

Abigail was very attentive when she reviewed my CV. After a brief chat about the kinds of roles I was looking for and the experience I had Abigail provided some excellent tips on how I could strengthen my CV to make it more attractive to prospective employers. Her tips included:

Moving away from a skills-based CV; this is more suitable for recent graduates or those who are looking to move into a new sector/industry with limited experience. That was me 10 years ago, but having built up significant professional experience in my field I was immediately selling myself short with a skills-based format. The chronological CV format was more appropriate for me as it demonstrated my consistent track record of experience.

Using titles and strong verbs that better reflect the work that I’ve done/doing. Even if you are in a non-managerial or non-senior executive level role you may have tasks where you are in fact leading, organising, managing etc. even if it is a small or discreet project. Abigail encouraged me to use these active commands words to give a clearer indication of what I really do and grab the employers’ attention immediately when they screen my CV.

Showing more of your personality by adding interests. I must admit previously I thought no one read that part and it was an opportunity to remove to save space on my CV. Wrong! By adding a few bullets or a short sentence about what you enjoy doing outside of a work context it demonstrates you are a well-rounded-person and may well give an opportunity for small talk at an interview to break the ice.

Finally, Abigail encouraged me to look at the job descriptions and person specifications of similar roles even if they were in a different industry to what I was in, as there would be similar core key skills which I’d need to show I have the experience in. This really helped me to hone in on how I articulated myself on paper to ensure I matched what the employer was looking for.

 

It worked! After receiving brilliant advice from Abigail, including her reviewing two versions of my CV until it was in a better state, I had a renewed confidence to hit the job market again and not get discouraged if I received rejections. I had about 8 on my list, applied for 6 using the updated CV, I was shortlisted to interview for 3 and finally offered a role at the one organisation I had my heart set on. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Build Potential if you need support in changing gears for the next stage in your career!

 

Written by a female Ghanaian diaspora in the not-for-profit sector.

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