19 out of 20 candidates simply fail to mention this fact in their CV. Which category do you fall into?
Any employer, no matter how kind and generous, is only interested in creating more value for their business.
In simple terms they have to receive more back from their investments in order to generate a profit and therefore remain in operation. Without doubt the most vital investments any company can make are in their employees. Businesses live or die based on whether or not their employees can create value and provide a return on the companies time and money.
So as a prospective employee it is your job to reflect this fact in your CV. An employee in which an employer “invests” £50,000 in salary, benefits and training in one year, but who returns £100,000 in measurable benefits to the company within that time, is an excellent investment. However, an employee in the same role who returns only £25,000 is not a good investment and the company will have to make a decision as to whether to remain patient or find a replacement who offers a better return on the time and money spent. Which employee are you?
If you want your CV to create maximum impact you simply must be able to demonstrate your value to a company in which you wish to secure a job. Simply talking about being hard-working, skilled and experienced for the job plus mentioning the fact that you enjoy listening to orchestral music and that you once won a prize at a science fair, is not building your value in the eyes of your potential new boss. You have to show an employer how and why an investment in you is going to earn them a profit and that they’d be foolish to allow one of their competitors to steal such a valuable asset, you, for itself.
Lack of demonstrated value is without a doubt the number one error made by 95% of all people who write their own CVs. Yes, that’s right – 19 out of 20 candidates simply don’t understand how to build value in their CV, and therefore miss the single most important theme that employers are desperately searching for when they review the multitudes of CVs that hit their email inbox or desk each day.
In fact to be fair most candidates make a half-hearted attempt at the value issue. They recognise its importance but they don’t know how to sell themselves, so they simply list their assets (education, job history, professional memberships, profile sections) hoping that it is enough to get them an interview. But is it?
No of course it is not. An asset list simply isn’t good enough because you have to show a potential employer how those assets can be used to generate a profitable return to the business in terms of time and money.
Putting sell into your CV
First of all, think of your CV as a 30-second television commercial to sell your benefits to a prospective boss. Not a 15-minute documentary that explains all that you do (which is how most candidates approach their CVs!) but a 30-second advertising spot that clearly demonstrates why you are the best person for the job. This means you are selling, not telling so avoid the fluff to obscure your basic message. The best way to get right down to business is to always ensure that you are stressing benefits, not features.
Examples of turning features into benefits
The trick is to turn the features of your job into benefits. So instead of saying that you possess strong skills for closing sales in the telecommunications industry, stress the benefit instead. ‘Increased sales 49% year-on-year by generating an extra £380,000 in business for the company’. As a prospective employer, which of the two statements sounds more attractive to you?
However, perhaps you’re in an industry where you feel it is difficult to quantify your results and benefits with hard numbers and percentages. The truth is you have to start to view yourself differently. Think about what you can highlight. Is it your efficiency, accuracy or dedication? How have all these impacted the business as a whole?
If you can inject sales messages like this throughout your CV, you are marketing yourself as a real asset.
Writing to sell
Writing to sell is a difficult skill to master. Candidates who have good writing skills can produce excellent reports, memos, and newsletters, but often fall flat on their face when trying to sell themselves. Even those candidates who are skilled at selling with words, such as advertising copywriters, drop the ball when they are asked to sell themselves in a two- or three-page document. But why is it so hard to do? Many people feel that selling is somehow “bad.” In fact, it is something that most of us avoid doing partly because we are all hounded by cold callers both at work and at home. Be honest; have you hung up on that person offering you a FREE holiday, quotation for your bill, or a survey? Yes of course you have. So most candidates try too hard not to sell themselves.
Other candidates go in the opposite direction and turn their CV into the worst kind of self-promotional document imaginable, and fail to understand that “BUY – BUY – BUY!” is nowhere near as effective as presenting benefits.
The ultimate sell
A CV must be professional in its selling, including its look and feel, its language, and its overall presentation. Every part of the document must be well presented and convey a positive and professional approach. Check your CV for spelling or grammatical errors. After all, would you buy a product from a company that advertises “Excellent quantites, limited stock so hurrie fast!”
The same comment goes for the format of the CV: Avoid changing formats, font types, or sizes during the CV. Advertise yourself consistently over the two-or three-page document.
Never be boring in your CV. Even when you are writing something that seems boring (such as a description of what you did on a day-to-day basis at your last job). Make every effort to ensure that it is interesting and exciting to read. When your descriptive writing holds the reader’s attention, and you insert well-written benefits at frequent and regular intervals, you stand the maximum chance of retaining the employer’s attention and motivating him or her to invite you to attend an interview.
How does your CV stack up when measured against these criteria?
Overall Look – When an employer picks up your CV, does it look inviting and readable, or is it a mass of confusing and cluttered information spread over far too many pages?
Presentation – Are you presenting yourself in a professional way? Are you using a readable font in a consistent way throughout the document?
Personal Details – Does the reader understand who you are and how they can get in touch with you? Do they have to squint to see your contact details, and are you providing all possible means of reaching you?
Capabilities – Can the reader see what your capabilities are with one easy glance, and are they phrased in a way that show how they build value for an employer? Do your capabilities tell the employer what you can do for him or her rather than what you want for yourself?
Career History – Is your job history clear and concise, with well-developed company descriptions, job duties, and notable achievements all showcased for the reader to see what a tremendous asset you can be to the company?
Education – Have you provided details of your education so that an employer can gauge your intelligence, training, and “trainability” in future roles at the company?
Message – Is the overall message of the CV one of “I am a qualified and talented employee who will help you make money if you invest in me!” or “Here’s what I’ve done – what do you think?”
Remember that you only have 20 seconds to make a winning first impression, and only one interview is granted for every 50 to 100 CVs received by the average employer.
Maximise your chances of being in that lucky 1-2% by following the suggestions in this article. If you have any concerns about the strength and selling power of your CV, simply get Sarah Berry or one of her trained consultants to write or assess your CV for you.
Simply CLICK HERE for more details.