With most things in life the attitude that we take into a task defines not just how effective we are within that task but also how much personal satisfaction we get from the process.
So, I am going to be controversial and assert that, as we enter 2019, we should all be embracing re-writing our CV! We should be enjoying the process and relishing the results! We should be setting aside an afternoon or evening. Engaging our brain, switching off our phones and locking the kids in a cupboard (ok not that one).
And yet almost universally this seems to be a job we hate. Like cleaning the oven, sorting out insurance, completing tax returns it fills us with dread! So, we don’t do it.
BUT we are wrong!
Really engaging in re-writing your CV can truly be cathartic. It can be enjoyable. But above all it can be motivational, it can re-fill you with passion for your career and it is the first step to career coaching / self-coaching.
And that applies not just to the xx% of people planning to move job in 2019. But to all of us who are building our careers or portfolios, feel demotivated, pushing for promotion, have a training plan, want a pay rise, considering a mid/long term change etc. So, in short most of us.
For 20+ years I have been reading CV’s, interviewing job hunters and helping them to sell themselves. Almost to the person when you raise the subject of re-writing the CV shoulders slump and hearts sink.
“It’s on my to do list!”, “Do I really need too!”, “I have Linkedin!”, “I don’t know what to write!”, “I am sure its fine as it is”, “ I don’t have time to spend on it”, “People in my industry know me!”, “I have added a version of my job description that will be ok”, “Its already 3 pages long”, “I am not currently jobhunting”, “I get approached by recruiters all the time so don’t need too!”, “Aren’t there agencies that can do it for me?”, “I hate writing/talking about myself”………..
…… “WHATS THE POINT??”
The answer is in the process as much as the resulting document. Whilst there are numerous reasons why the document should always be current and punchy that’s not my point here. Rather, it’s the impact of the process. It can truly help you to develop a blueprint for moving forward. Yes, for getting a new role, but also for motivation, getting out of a slump, giving you the ammo for a salary negotiation or promotion, for boosting confidence, +, +, +!
Career coaching is about looking backwards and harnessing the essence of what makes you great and then applying that to your future goals. Having a physical blueprint, a summary, a sales document, a report of that greatness is essential.
However before highlighting how to achieve this epiphany on paper it’s worth pointing out what a CV is and isn’t;
First and foremost a CV/Resume is a personal document so make it your own. I am not talking about writing in fancy fonts or different colours or creating funky formats. That’s bad. In fact, that will probably distract from the content and so hinder your chances of getting your dream role. What I mean is this document is the essence of the professional you in writing. Don’t make it bland, boring, one dimensional – unless of course that’s a fair representation of you!! It’s a sales document. We want the reader to look at this piece of paper and think “this person is amazing!” The key is making it content rich. A job description of each role will not suffice. The reader probably understands the requirements of the job you do, they just don’t know if you are any good at it. The CV should - “sell” your achievements, “sell” your knowledge, “sell” your passion…
And therein lies the benefit. You are condensing in a few pages everything that makes you great! The document is fantastic but the process of creating it is better.
I defy anyone to walk away from this process lacking oomph or fire.
Will it be easy? – no.
Will you be comfortable singing your own praises? – probably not we are British!
Will it involve you confronting your career self? – Yes.
Will it involve facing your weaknesses as well as your strengths? – Yes.
Will it change the way you think of “career-you”? – probably!
But that is all positive. Even the negatives are positive as they highlight where action is required. And from there we can build!
So, you are in the room, kids are in the cupboard (still joking!), what should you do?
Its about taking yourself back. Visualising yourself in previous roles. I suggest that you take an A4 piece of paper for each role. As you are visualising yourself in each role write down everything that you can remember. The good, the bad. The clients. The promotions. The milestones. The training. The campaigns, projects, portfolio, teams, ideas, awards etc etc.
Think about what made you great in that role. Were you the no1 performer? Did you get positive appraisals each quarter or year? What did you learn? Did you handle the biggest clients? Were you the youngest to be promoted?
Please enjoy this part. Get up and walk around if it helps – it does for me. Smile when you remember the team. Feel proud at your accomplishments. Re-live the challenges. Bask in your glory. Take yourself to your happy place....
Phew. You have just downloaded the essence of “career you”! Although I think it works best to do it the old-fashioned way on paper.
You are surrounded by A4 sheets and it’s time to construct the document. Now you can switch on the laptop and turn all that passion and paper into a sales document. I would suggest, if this is your first epiphany, that you write a Master Document that includes everything (that is RELEVANT). You can always tailor it when necessary. The Master doc will be the “most passionate” version. Relevant is an important word. Please don’t feel the need to include everything on the sea of paper surrounding you. Include the facts & achievements that are relevant to where you are standing now and where you want to get to.
This is not a CV writing article, so I am not going to give a lengthy description on structure. However, make it fact heavy, include some description to help the reader understand the context, but put the real effort into the salesy bullet points.
Please remember that whilst this is a historical document, its purpose is very forward focused. Its designed to get your dream job, your promotion, your payrise etc. So, make sure you use the language, key words and attitude that relates to where you want to be rather than where you came from.
And there it is. The blueprint of what makes you great.
Finally, as you are sat at your laptop and we are in the world of the tinternet, remember to use a tailored version of this blueprint (sanitised for public consumption) for your Linkedin, website or other digital channels as they offer an amazing shopfront for how great you are.
And relax. Step one on your personal development plan has been achieved.
Its now time to let the kids out of the cupboard (still kidding) and take that new-found passion into the real world.