How to condense the vast amount of information, gained from life and work, into an easily readable format.
Most people, as they grow older, simply add more and more information to their CV, regardless of the number of pages filled. It’s not unusual to find CVs of four, five, six or seven pages. The largest presented to me was around 40 pages. Admittedly it did have a title page, two pages of contents, a three page index and a list of published articles as long as your arm!
It was a challenge, reducing it to two pages, common sense said that it would never have been read in its original state.
What we tend to do is list all our experience and achievements in the fond hope the reader will browse through the document and pull out, from that mass of information, the things they are interested in. Not so.
Bearing in mind the twenty second test, these CVs will fall by the wayside very quickly.
We also think, with all the experience we have, the reader will see us not as a “Jack of All Trades” but a “Master of All”.
All we do is to cause confusion in the reader’s mind. They know what they are looking for. They do not want to employ someone who can do many jobs around their company fairly well. They want someone who can do one job extremely well, or, at least, that is their original intention.
So in drafting the CV, we must aim very closely at the target and set out our experience, skills and achievements to hit that target in the bull’s-eye, and only in the bull’s-eye.
We may be very proud of achievements gained in an earlier career, which do not relate to the job on offer, but feel we have to demonstrate them to show what an all round “good guy” we are. The problem is, the reader may well gain the impression, “Yes, I can do the job you want us to. But look at all the other things I have done in the past and I could do these for you to prevent me getting bored”.
Or, more likely, “Look what I can also do and I’ll stick my nose in where not wanted to show you how to do things the way I used to”.
OK, so the company may get some benefit from that, later on! The point is they aren’t employing you for that right now!
So target, target, target!
Only show what they are looking for.
If the things they are looking for occurred in the most recent past, on the CV show only the recent past in any detail. Soft peddle the mid to distant past stuff.
If you’re wanting to highlight something you did in a previous job, use the functional style CV and run earlier jobs together in a heading “Previous Career included:-”
You can do it.
Two pages might be too much, so be prepared to produce a one page “briefing”.
Remember the purpose of the CV is to make sure you’re invited to the interview, not to get the job!