Your CV is your first impression, and your chance to make a mark on a prospective employer. Getting it right is critical to making it past the first stage of the recruitment process.
If you’re applying for a senior or executive-level position, chances are you have a lot of experience under your belt already. If you include it all, your CV could be three or four pages long before you know it.
Employers will already be expecting big things from anyone applying for their open position. Giving them this much to digest is a sure-fire way to cause them to lose interest and move to the next document in the pile.
To position yourself favourably in the recruitment process, your CV needs to be watertight, include your most relevant experience, and set you up as a frontrunner for the position.
Here are our top tips on how to make sure your CV stands out for the right reasons.
1. Tailor your CV to the specific position you are applying for
If you are applying for more than one position, there could be similarities between them – they could use the same job title or be in the same industry. However, the reality is that each role will have its own individual requirements.
To stand out and demonstrate you are the perfect candidate, your CV needs to be tailored to reflect what the recruiter is looking for.
Take the time to study the job description so you understand the requirements of the role. Then place the most emphasis on the skills and experience you have that are a close match.
2. Include real results
When applying for senior and executive-level positions, the more specific you can get, the better. It is no longer enough to state the kind of tasks and duties you have carried out in the past. Tangible examples of success are key.
Include numbers as much as possible – percentages, budgets you’ve worked with, and quantifiable results are crucial to highlight your competencies effectively.
Relevant statistics will depend on the specific role you are applying for, but could include:
- Revenue earned
- Return on Investment (ROI) achieved
- Profit margin growth
- Efficiency improvements
You should also detail the size of the teams you have managed, if appropriate.
If you can, make sure each of your examples is relatively recent, too. You might have an excellent result from a decade ago, but unfortunately, it may no longer be relevant to the position you are applying for. The world has moved on so much and industries are constantly evolving. You need to show that you can keep up, rather than giving the impression you’re stuck in the past.
3. Refresh your key skills section
The Key Skills section on a CV is where an employer will expect to see your most important competencies, so maximising this small space is key.
It all leads back to the individual job advert. What technical experience and skills does the position require? With a close study, you will be able to easily understand what they expect to see here.
We recommend showing your seniority by listing the specific skills you have accumulated over time. Don’t include any points around ‘good communication’, ‘team player’ or ‘time management’. These skills have no place on a senior CV because they are expected qualities. The information you include needs to help you stand out from the other applicants.
4. Show that you’ve gone above and beyond
This is particularly important if you are interested in making a change but aren’t actively looking for a new role yet.
One of the best ways you can build your CV without leaving your current position is to try and make the most of any internal opportunities you have available.
You need to think-long term – even if you aren’t planning on sticking around!
Talk to your current manager about your ambitions and try to build extra experience where you can. Prove to them that you have initiative and exciting projects could arise as a result.
Then within your CV, detail this experience. It could be that you’ve rolled out relevant strategies within your team, or you’ve made the effort to upskill with certifications and training.
No matter what, the fact that you’ve gone the extra mile won’t go unnoticed by prospective employers.
5. Don’t forget your Professional Profile
Your Professional Profile is a small section at the very beginning of your CV, which you should use to essentially write a summary of what you have to offer as a candidate.
This is the first portion of your CV that an employer will see, and it is your opportunity to grab their attention and encourage them to keep reading.
A Professional Profile should be, at maximum, eight sentences in length. When you have lots of experience, it can be daunting to try and condense years of experience into such a short paragraph.
Our advice is to use this as an opportunity to drill down into only the most essential information. The first sentence should introduce who you are and your Unique Selling Points (USPs). From there, you can add a little more detail – for example, your leadership experience, qualifications, campaigns you’ve worked on, and areas of expertise.
This section needs to be specifically tailored to the role, so keep in mind what the employer is looking for at all times.
6. Make your journey clear
Your CV is all about providing a snapshot of your career journey so far, to help the employer understand that you will be a valuable asset to their team.
One of the most effective ways to prove your worth is to show how you’ve progressed over time.
Explain your leadership experience clearly and concisely and try to tie each of your previous positions together with a common thread. The better you highlight your strengths, the more effectively you demonstrate why you’ve been able to reach senior levels of experience and authority.
7. Include your most important qualifications
By the time you’re applying for senior and executive-level positions, your school examination results won’t be relevant anymore. Depending on what you studied at university, you may not need to include your degree either!
Instead, you need to laser in on specific qualifications you have that are relevant to the role you are applying for. Perhaps you have undertaken industry-specific training or completed qualifications that tie in with your discipline. This is the information the employer will want to see, as it shows your dedication to improvement and progression within your field.
Regardless, we recommend that you include education in a short section at the very end of your CV. In many respects, it will be the least important information in the document, so make sure it doesn’t take up unnecessary space.
We hope this guide has given you some useful pointers to help you start thinking about creating your CV more strategically. The best thing you can do is understand the job description inside out, as your CV will then reflect that you are the best candidate for the position.
Do you have a clear vision of where you want your career to go next?
If you want to partner with a recruitment consultancy who are committed to finding the right role for you, we would love to have a conversation.
Send us your CV today and one of our experienced recruitment specialists will get in touch to arrange a confidential chat. Or pop into our Glasgow City Centre office – we can promise a great cup of coffee!