Your CV Should Not Be About YOU.....

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 by Stephen ThompsonNo comments

Your CV Should Not Be About YOU..... 

Does that come as a surprise? Don't worry - you're not alone. Most people also think the opposite, as you probably do at the moment. But you're wrong. Here's why: 

When prospective employers read your CV, they want to know how you will make THEM money, save THEM money, increase THEIR profits or market penetration, reduce THEIR costs or expenses, speed up or streamline THEIR processes, reduce THEIR waste and staff attrition, and so on.

In essence, you need to be playing their favourite radio station “WII FM” – “What’s In It for Me?” 

Get it? It should be all about THEM.

IMPORTANT! You don’t achieve this by trotting out a job description.   This is what most of your competitors for the position will do. That’s why their CVs will hit the circular file very quickly. We don’t want yours to join them… 

You need to think instead about 'Features and Benefits', and the difference between them. 

Let me explain what they are. 

Very simply, features describe what something IS. Benefits describe what that something DOES.  

The English sales trainer and renowned business author Andy Bounds, in his acclaimed book, “The Snowball Effect”, says the following:  “Be Benefits-Based, not Features-Focused”. 

In the context of CV writing, this means that you need to be describing all of your considerable abilities in terms that tell the prospective employer how you will help him or her, or contribute to their organisation. Not WHAT you do, but HOW you do what you do, and what RESULTS you get. 

Think about it.

The employer already knows all the job description stuff; if he or she is advertising for a warehouse operative, for example, it’s a ‘given’ that you will be able to locate inventory or stock, operate a conveyor belt, and pick/pack an order for dispatch. Indeed, they’ve almost certainly listed those attributes on the job advertisement in the first place.

There will be an assumption, therefore, that everybody represented in the mountain of CVs they received will be able to carry out these tasks. Those that can’t (and there are always a huge number of applicants that just apply for anything, regardless of whether they have the necessary skills or experience), will have been discarded on the initial sift. 

Despite this logical and accepted assumption, the vast majority of applicants will still use up to 80% of the available real estate on their CV to confirm this; listing task-centric information in job description type language that tells the employer nothing new.

So only about 20% of the information will be used to personalise their experience or attempt to convince the employer to interview them.  

Madness. Think of the impact your CV will have if you reverse those numbers and make only 20% of the content task-focused (there is an argument that there must be some of this type of information to let the employer know you have those skills), and use the much larger (80%) proportion to tell them how YOU will use those skills to positively impact THEIR business? 

Do you think that will make a difference?  Of course it will!

It will instantly separate you as a real contender. In other words, put another way, unless you describe the “how” of what you do to achieve those tasks, and quantify any results, then your CV will be almost identical to the next 100 in the pile. Going nowhere. Fast. 

So, going back to our hypothetical warehouse operative vacancy, how about this… 

Instead of stating that you are able to locate inventory or stock, you could say, for example, that you “Identified, sorted, and located 375 mixed products into appropriately barcoded bays, and arranged them in FIF0 (first in first out) order to make it easy for pickers and packers to quickly match them to orders.” 

You should also note two additional elements in this benefits laden statement; the way that ‘action verbs’ (identified, sorted and located) started the sentence, and that the sentence itself was not structured in a narrative style.

In other words, you didn’t turn the sentence into a story, such as “Every morning, after clocking in, I would identify, sort, etc”. You told the employer what they wanted to hear.  For the sake of clarity, let’s treat another skill in the same way. 

Skill: Operate a conveyor belt. [This may be another of the warehouse operative skills that were listed in the job advertisement or vacancy posting].  

Benefit statement:  Moved large cases of goods, using a powered conveyor belt and pallet trucks, in full compliance with the company’s policies and operating procedures, and applicable health and safety legislation.  

Do you understand how we’ve satisfied the requirements of the ad, but enhanced the way we ‘operate a conveyor belt’ by describing how we’ve used it (moved large cases of goods), and also told the employer that we can work safely and follow company procedures?

If every other CV simply mentions or lists that the applicant can operate a conveyor belt, there is absolutely nothing to separate them.  So how will the employer make a choice?  

By contrast your CV will stand out like the proverbial ‘sore thumb’ and immediately push you ahead of the rest.

How much more powerful will your CV be if you describe all of your skills and attributes in this way – and in civilian language?  

I hope you can see the difference between the way the skill is described (i.e. in benefit terms, rather than features) and the way it is actually put onto paper (or, of course, its digital equivalent). 

Construct your whole CV like this and you will instantly push yourself clear of the 'also rans'.   

Article kindly provided by Stephen Thompson at Armed Forces CVs

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