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How to Write Your CV to Achieve Selection for Interviews
Your CV is your personal sales tool. To be selected for interviews, it needs to demonstrate that you have the expertise required to perform successfully in the advertised vacancy. Your CV must demonstrate examples of where you have successfully delivered a similar project / programme / service / problem resolution relevant to that of the vacancy. Demonstrating your previous successes, at overcoming similar challenges, motivates the employer to want to meet you as you have potential to be highly successful (and low risk) in this vacancy / job function and enable the employer to achieve their goals. As an IT Recruiter for over 15 years, I have recruited for a range of organisations from FTSE 100 companies to SMEs to charities throughout the UK, placing candidates from graduate / entry level to IT Director. After sourcing and interviewing applicants, I have often met the recruiting IT Manager / Director to present my shortlist of the best applicants and witnessed their re-actions to different types of CV format and content. From this I have learned what a client/employer likes to read on a CV to instantly be motivated to interview an applicant and also what will make them say no or a “put on hold”. The rest of this document shares this insight to help you make the most of your CV and be selected for interviews.
Recruitment Selection Process
When a recruiter is faced with 50 CVs on their desk for a single vacancy, but only time to interview 3 applicants, how do they select 3 for interview? As I read each CV, I put them into 3 categories of Yes, Question Mark, and No. Yes Category - CVs of applicants with experience of each required skill to be contacted and interviewed immediately. These CVs state the applicant has been successful in delivering similar challenges therefore giving the recruiter confidence the applicant will be successful in the employer’s organisation, minimising the risk of failure. Those selected for interview demonstrate their achievements and the benefits they have brought previous employers on their CV, and it is this expertise in delivering benefits that the new employer is buying. Out of the 50 responses there may only be 5 CVs in this category. Question Mark Category - This is the main reason applicants don’t achieve interview as their CV demonstrates some relevant experience but lacks one or two of the required skills. Those CVs have left a question unanswered regarding their expertise or have not given enough information and are effectively put on hold. A recruiter or employer needs to want to spend time with the applicant because they believe the applicant will deliver the challenge. Often CVs fail get the recruiter’s attention as they lack enough evidence to make the recruiter or the employer want to spend 60 minutes with the applicant to find out. Chances are that the recruiter / employer previously invited an applicant to interview that they were unsure about and it was a waste of time…therefore they won’t take the same risk again. Don’t think the CV is an introduction and that you can explain more at interview, as you’re unlikely to get that far. When spoken to, many of the Question Mark applicants don’t have any more expertise than on the CV, however sometimes a few do. You might think well why don’t recruiters call all applicants to find out? The answer is that recruitment is very competitive and time poor. It is only if the Yes CVs fail the interview and the recruiter has to search further to have 3 or 4 applicants for the shortlist, that they start calling the Question Mark CVs. You need to avoid falling into the Question Mark category by documenting every required skill (for that vacancy) on your CV. I have often found excellent candidates in the Question Mark category who have poorly documented their experience and only by speaking with them have I learned their true capability. Many of which I have coached to improve their CV and they have subsequently been offered the job. HOWEVER, failing to document your capability and hoping to explain over the phone is a risky strategy as you will only get the
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© 2012 Genium Selection
think of the benefits you delivered to your employer. better data to make decisions. It may surprise you how few CVs achieve the Yes Category and the reality is that few applicants can truly write a CV that demonstrates their capability. CV Content Vacancies arise when employers have projects / challenges / problems / services that they want the new recruit to deliver / resolve / improve. and if page 1 doesn’t interest them. The specialist has significant expertise of the relevant skills. There will be circa 25 CVs in the category. making them look like a “Jack of All Trade and Master of None”. increase efficiency or increase sales and. increase profit. Expertise Its not just about skills. most organisations want to hire people who can improve service / products. No Category . then you don’t stand a chance. Relevant To achieve the above point.biz © 2012 Genium Selection 2 . saving more money. An Applicant’s expertise and the CV they write are rarely equal as many applicants under sell themselves on their CV and a few oversell themselves. Often applicants find it difficult to promote / sell themselves as they are less comfortable shouting about their achievements. First Page The first page is crucial. Whatever level of IT role you fulfil. improving efficiency. Remember. reduced costs. which covers every skill they have ever applied. then it dilutes away from the skills you have that they actually need. An effective CV demonstrates the benefits you brought previous employers that are relevant to the new employer’s challenges with examples of your successes. its how your APPLICATION of the SKILL and the BENEFIT you delivered. eg programme delivered on time. it’s not about whether you could do the job. many recruiters will not take the time to call this category or to help improve your CV. but which applicant will do the job best and bring the most benefit. Not got time to re-write your CV? Try writing one long master copy of up to 6 pages. If the Yes CVs do perform.www. SLAs achieved.chance to do this if the applicants with the best CVs fail the interview. you need to tailor your CV for each vacancy you apply for to ensure it focuses on the required expertise. Additionally.Significantly lacks the required experience and will be rejected immediately. Sometimes recruiters spend 10 seconds looking at a CV before making a decision so provide important / relevant experience first. by providing better solutions. whether directly or indirectly. They think it makes them look very useful to the employer – “look at all the extras I bring”…but if the company doesn’t need those skills/expertise. This sets you apart from other applicants. such as service improvement / cost reduction / better data to enable business decisions etc Below details the structure and content of your CV: The Specialist Few CVs achieve the Yes Category because employers want to hire a specialist and typically too many applicants send their standard CV. Employers are buying this success as your expertise means lower risk of failure and more likely successful delivery of their challenge. you should beat your competition to achieve selection for interview. therefore if hired. they will make more impact quicker than the Jack of All Trades. most employees are contributing to one of these to deliver a benefit to the business. then cut down / delete what is less relevant for that vacancy to submit a CV no longer than 4 pages.genium. There will be circa 20 CVs in this category. cut costs. improving service quicker. By following this guide. If this is the case. which is perhaps an easier way. new software developed to add new functionality…. then they won’t turn to Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition .
Drawing parallels from your experience to the vacancy will strengthen your application. jobs you did over 6 years ago are probably less relevant so keep descriptions for these roles short. employee numbers) Skills lists do not differentiate you – what did you do with the skills? Avoid negativity. Likewise. As you progress in your career and expect a higher salary. You’ll probably be found out if you’re not. Complexity Describe the complexity of your achievement using timescales and numbers (team size / budget) as this enables the reader to understand the challenges faced in such tasks. no photos. A two page CV is only suitable for a recent graduate who has little experience to offer. (eg industry sector. rather it is best to concentrate on the positives and what you delivered. Honesty Always be honest. and is not expecting much salary. Ensure all of the first page has relevant experience for the job. Even if you took over a failing programme. Avoid “responsible for” as this doesn’t mean you were a success or even that you did the task. Language Use the past tense as it sounds more powerful. Repeat & Check Think you are adding the same skills many times? That’s great as the more times you demonstrate your expertise with them the stronger you will look. ask yourself “Is this a reason to interview me?” For instance if its 10 years since you left university.page 2. Tips Keep it simple – clear headings.genium. State what YOU did by stating “I managed / delivered…”. Maximum of 4 pages. The first page must instantly make the reader want to continue and not have to hunt for experience relevant to them. they will find you. it is not truly possible to get across in 2 pages the real benefits you will bring and justify that higher salary. no spelling mistakes. state no more than that and try not to be detailed about the failure. then its not the sole reason to hire you now. so keep it brief.If you say you were involved with a programme – did you run it and make the difficult decisions or make the tea (!) Both are involved but are completely different in their achievements. If you have had a career break then put in the dates. Too much negativity my cause the reader to be concerned that you will be negative if you join their organisation. Agencies have thousands of CVs so don’t rely on 3 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . Don’t assume everyone knows your employer and therefore understands your job.www. Using “we” does not tell the reader what you have accomplished. Putting a brief description of the organisation can help the reader understand the context and environment. Do not leave gaps in the CV. so you’re not the specialist. fancy paper or fonts. Check how many times on your CV you have mentioned application of that skill. Interview Me For everything on your CV. When a recruiter reviews a CV and doesn’t find relevant experience / achievements until the bottom quarter of the first page it appears to them that 75% is irrelevant and will give the impression that only 25% of your time has been spent on relevant tasks. Avoid “involved with” . turnover. size. I have always presented CVs of 3 to 4 pages to clients and not once has a client/ employer refused to interview a candidates because they couldn’t write a 2 page CV. Put your address on your CV so when Recruitment Consultants search databases to find candidates near a particular client location. needs training. It is true that there is no “I” in team but remember that the employer is only buying your expertise and not the team’s. Recruitment software finds candidates that mention keywords the most times in the CV and puts them to the top of the list.biz © 2012 Genium Selection .
influencing. and awards come next. Sentence 3 – Technical skills / technical competencies – eg programme management. Sentence 2 – This is optional – An achievement eg Delivered a project or improvement related to the vacancy. If you wish to relocate to a new location and are applying for a job in that new location. Simply include the skills / achievements you have that are required in the advert. It is a maximum of 5 lines of text any longer and its no longer a summary Further / University Education in summary Career History – most recent job first Professional qualifications. and wants to keep reading. (If you don’t have the skills then do not put them in). speaking with them and hoping they remember your requirements. requirements analysis. again in reverse chronological order Further personal details at the back.An experienced (job title) who has successfully delivered (the challenge in the advert within the X industry. The role requires the ability to manage and lead Programmes/projects. The Programme Manager is responsible for overall delivery assurance. Sentence 4 – Soft Skills / behavioural competencies – eg Team management. development. Such Programmes include technology and IT service transformation. and achievements in 4 or 5 sentences (no more that 6 lines of text as then it is no longer a summary). The first thing the reader sees is that your expertise is very relevant for this vacancy. test. In particular.www. integrity and coherence of the programme by developing and maintaining a programme environment capable of supporting each delivery phase. and interests (max of 4) PROFILE The profile is unique to you and should summarise your skills. so make you include this. This includes key skills and what you have to offer. Many candidates apply for jobs without checking location. Format Name and contact details at the top Profile – a brief synopsis which should entice the reader to continue. client relationship management. their inter-dependencies and any risks/issues that may arise. eg driving license. service delivery management.).tell them you want that job! Example 1 Below is an example of an advert and the profile that could be written to motivate the recruiter / employer to interview you: Advert IT Programme Manager The Programme Manager is responsible for successful delivery of new large complex client programmes or projects. Sentence 5 – What you wish to do now – keep this open if you do not have a vacancy in mind or if you do have a vacancy in mind then focus on that area…. Key Responsibilities: Planning and designing the programme and proactively monitoring its overall progress Defining the Programme governance structure and status reporting channels Developing or utilising existing benefit tracking mechanisms including sign up to business benefits Managing the programme’s budget Facilitating the appointment of individuals to the project delivery teams 4 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . so sometimes recruiters assume you have made a mistake. You will demonstrate later in your CV where you have applied these skills. if you are prepared to work anywhere. negotiation. design. make sure your desire to relocate to that area is on your CV and covering email. then state this too. implementation. Additionally. Sentence 1 .biz © 2012 Genium Selection .genium. some software uses postcode radius searching. stakeholder management ( skills that are necessary to perform the job well). education.
Proven leadership. managed budget of £5m and a team of 10 Analysts. managed system deployment and ensured it delivered to requirements. resulting is reducing complaints by 50% and provided single view of each customer. Successfully delivered IT Infrastructure and Application programmes. It therefore wanted a new single system to improve use of customer data and customer service Task – My role was to source and deliver one Customer Relationship Management system to meet requirements Action – I reviewed suppliers. stakeholder management. on time and within budget. trusted advisor relationships with key client stakeholders at all levels of the organisation Responsible for £5m+ budgets Experience: Successful delivery of large scale IT programmes (£5m+ budgets). Instead just do not put in a sector at all. influencing. issue. negotiating and team leading skills applied to achieve results. If you state delivered in the telecoms sector or retail sector you are diluting away from the core requirements of the role. Now looking for a new challenging opportunity in IT Programme Management. budget management applying Prince2 to deliver on time and to budget. If you have not worked in the specific sector. Essentially what you are doing is taking the key requirements from the advert and dropping them into your profile to tailor it so you look like the specialist they want to hire.This delivered improved customer service. in accordance with the programme plan and programme governance arrangements Ensuring that there is efficient allocation of common resources and skills within the project portfolio Managing third party contributions and costs to the programme Managing the communications with all stakeholders up to board level Managing risks to the programme’s successful outcome Build credible. resource management. with budgets in excess of £5m. 5 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . Ensuring that the delivery of IT services from the projects is to the appropriate levels of quality. Documenting Your Achievements Demonstrate your achievements under each job by using the STAR technique Situation – What was the situation /position when you joined? Task – What were you there to deliver? Actions – What actions did you take to deliver the task Result – The success Example 1 Situation – Company had multiple IT systems with no single view of customer data.www. made recommendations. planned delivery. Result . in this case Financial Services then do not mention any sector. Expertise of the full programme lifecycle including planning. governance. ideally within Financial Services Presenting to Executive boards and dealing with demanding stakeholders Ability to build trusted relationships Working effectively with third party suppliers Good problem-solving and analytical skills Very strong and effective leadership and communications skills Experience of IT infrastructure & Application Delivery Project Management methodologies Then the ideal profile would be… An experienced IT Programme Manager with a strong track record of Programme delivery within the Financial Services Sector. risk.biz © 2012 Genium Selection .genium.
I would expect a task that took 12 months or more to achieve (which is relevant to the vacancy) needs at least 2 paragraphs (10 lines of text) to fully detail the achievement. provided stakeholder management. the Programme Planning. challenges or size or scale. then please do not hesitate to contact me. Providing detail shows the reader the COMPLEXITY of the tasks/ projects you undertook and therefore the challenges you overcame to deliver. Summary To help you put this all together. managed third party suppliers and successfully delivered within a multi-cultural environment.genium. To deliver this I managed a team of 10 Project Managers and a budget of £Xm. you are not there to deliver technology benefits. the Programme Planning.” This does not tell the reader about the nature. governance. managed third party suppliers and successfully delivered within a multi-cultural environment. delivered a Programme in 12 months with a budget of £Xm for the provision of a single desktop experience to 10 countries with 15.000 desktops across multiple divisions to enable an employee from any of those countries/divisions to have the same desktop application access regardless of location.000 desktops across multiple divisions to enable an employee from any of those countries to have the same desktop application access regardless of location. please find below a CV template with examples of content.biz © 2012 Genium Selection 6 . which should always be the end result. Example 2 “I programme managed the implementation of upgraded desktop IT for the company.biz Tel: 01934 863012 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . rather that you are employed to improve technology that will deliver benefits to the business. I managed a team of 10 Project Managers and a budget of £Xm. you may prefer to organise this into Results. How should you write for each example? The answer depends on the size of achievement and its relevance to the vacancy. governance. You may have multiple achievements delivered over 12 months in different areas and therefore each one can be detailed in approximately 4 or 5 lines of text. Was it for small office for 2 people or for 2000 employees in the UK or globally? Each of these roles would be very different with different challenges and it is likely that an employer would not think the person who had managed the upgrade for a small office could manage the upgrade for 15.Remember that while you may work in technology. This programme was delivered within budget and in 12 months as planned. If you keep it too brief then you make the task look less significant and reduce the scale of the achievement. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss your CV once you have re-written it. Documented in full gives a much better picture… The company had different desktop applications in each division and country. Task and Actions As Programme Manager.000 desktops in several countries. provided stakeholder management.www. It’s the detail that makes the reader start to think of all the things you had to accomplish to deliver and start to imagine you being successful in their organisation. Alternatively. As Programme Manager. my role was the manage the delivery of a single desktop experience in 10 countries with 15. You are welcome to forward your new CV to me for review to: vickidouglas@genium.
risk.genium.Present) As Programme Manager. Now looking for a new challenging opportunity in IT Programme Management. with project resource teams of up to X people and budgets of £Xm. If you have been there longer than 3 years then write three quarters of a page. with budgets in excess of £5m. my role was to deliver…. issue. I managed a team of 10 Project Managers and a budget of £Xm. Why? Well if this job is most relevant to the vacancy applied for and therefore the main reason to hire you. negotiating and team leading skills applied to achieve results. It is possible that roles you were doing 6 or more years ago have less relevance now. Successfully delivered IT Infrastructure and Application programmes. employing 15. Project Manager (May 2006 – December 2008) As Project Manager. Certification in…) Career History ABC International May 2006.1996 University Of X .John Smith 14 West Street.000 desktops across multiple divisions to enable an employee from any of those countries to have the same desktop application access regardless of location. governance. Germany. managed third party suppliers and successfully delivered within a multi-cultural environment. UK and Poland. How much text should you write for each job? For your most recent job you should write minimum half a page.Present (Format – first give 1-2 lines summarising the employer – who are they? service / product + size to set the scene) ABC is a global plastics manufacturer operating in France. stakeholder management. I have successfully delivered a number of IT programmes through the full programmes lifecycle on time and to budget. Examples of projects include: Delivered a Programme in 12 months with a budget of £Xm for the provision of a single desktop experience to 10 countries with 15. governance.BSc in Abc 2i Other industry qualifications that are a job requirement put here – eg Prince2. often operating at board level and always ensuring the business receives the full benefits of implementations. Home tel.biz © 2012 Genium Selection . therefore reduce amount of space dedicated to these to max 2 paragraphs if they are not relevant 7 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . Expertise of the full programme lifecycle including planning. budget management applying Prince2 to deliver on time and to budget. Town.www. Proven leadership. influencing. Qualifications (Put in what is relevant to the job – put full details on back page) 1993 . Postcode (keep this on one line – its not a reason to interview you) Mobile. America. the Programme Planning.000 people with a turnover of £500m. MCIPT. email address Profile An experienced IT Programme Manager with a strong track record of Programme delivery within the Financial Services Sector.) (Next is a short summary of your role…what is your purpose in the organisation?) IT Programme Manager (2009. County. my role is to deliver a variety of IT programmes across all locations in both IT Infrastructure and Applications. resource management. provided stakeholder management.
XYZ Ltd (Jan 1996. Reporting to the Financial Director I made a number of improvements and upgrades to the systems which included: Put examples in using STAR Infrastructure Team Leader (March 2000 – December 2002) Follow the format above IT Analyst (May 1997 – February 2000) Follow the format above Service Desk Analyst (March 1996 – April 2007) (As this role is over 10 years ago.genium. To do so I managed a team of 5. it is necessary to include it so the reader can understand your background. Exchange) and a variety of applications including Agresso. etc. across 5 UK sites and one in France to 1100 IT users. jogging and playing five-a-side football. infrastructure and applications. telecoms. SAP. my role was to ensure the provision of all IT Services.Not a pre-requisite) Interests I enjoy walking. While it is not now relevant.www.2 lines unless it is of key relevance to the job applied for. I managed the Microsoft infrastructure ( Wins 7.) Education (Include details of education if they are relevant and required by the job. IT Manager (Jan 2003 – April 2006) As I Manager. it should be summarised in about 1 . MS Server.biz © 2012 Genium Selection .April 2006) XYZ provides A and B IT Products to the F market with a turnover of £X and 1200 employees in the UK. It is unlikely before A levels is relevant/ a reason to hire you now) Additional Information Clean driving license Date of Birth (Optional . (please keep this to a max 2 lines as it is not the reason someone will hire you…too many and the reader will wonder when you have time to work) 8 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition .
professional conduct and fair practice. recognising that each client.biz © 2012 Genium Selection . Our clients choose us as we provide IT candidates who truly have the right expertise for their vacancies. from IT Graduate to IT / IS Director. 9 Expertise in IT Recruitment & IT Talent Acquisition . people enable business success and they are an organisation's greatest asset. counter offers and keep in touch with candidates until they join the team. candidate and vacancy has its own unique requirements. Pay attention to detail. As a member of REC.genium. both technical and behavioural competencies. We have successfully placed IT professionals with SMEs to FTSE 250 companies across a range of technologies and roles.About Genium Selection Genium provides IT Recruitment and IT Talent Acquisition consultancy. we adhere to the REC Code of Practice which has been developed to ensure clients and candidates receive the highest principles of ethics. helping organisations recruit talented IT professionals who add value to team and company performance. both locally in Bristol / South West and nationally. integrity. with clear and honest representation. ensuring the time dedicated to interviewing is worthwhile Prepare candidates for interview – making sure they know everything so it doesn’t need explained again Manage offer negotiation. considering employer branding Meticulously interview candidates. including our name which is derived from the Latin 'Ingenium' meaning 'talent'. For us. We are successful in IT Recruitment as we: Take the time to understand your goals and motivations. Sourcing talented people is at our core. on a permanent and contract basis.www. equity. whether client or candidate Understand an organisation’s culture and the detailed requirements of the IT vacancy Turn vacancies into career opportunities to attract the best IT Talent and make the opportunity stand out from the crowd Source IT candidates specifically for each vacancy as each IT vacancy is unique Honestly represent organisations and vacancies.
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