18 Top Tips for a Senior Candidate’s CV

Posted by Lawrence Bond August 9, 2019

Senior candidates don’t need help with their CV…..If only this was true!

Given the time investment, a CV tends to become a very personal document and anything except positive comments on this ‘work of art’, can often cause resistance or even offence.

In one of my other earlier articles, I mentioned that I’m very wary about giving advice on what can be considered by some as ‘basic’ areas as this could be mistaken as patronising.

I hate that thought and I’m conscious that at your level, you’re likely to have reviewed more than your fair share of CVs too.

Between us, we will have seen the good, the bad and the ugly and I thought it sensible to share a few common pitfalls and some tips. Let me know if you agree?

Cover letter or not?

1) As most CV’s tend to be sent by email, the equivalent of the cover letter is now an email and many job application portals don’t have the facility to add a note. If you are going to
send your CV with a note, think about what’s most likely to get your CV noticed.

As you may realise by now, I always try to get into the mind of the other party. This could be an MD, an HR Director, A CFO/FD or a Recruitment Consultant (internal or external).

2) Sometimes, the differing level of recipient will mean that they have different motivators so if you can see a name, job title etc, have a look at them on LinkedIn. It may give you a common ground to mention, an insight into what area to highlight and you can message them to let them know that your CV is on the way. It takes a minute or two but if someone did this to you, would it make you more likely to reply or give their CV consideration?

Regardless of which of these contacts is reviewing your CV though, the quicker you can get their attention and highlight your relevance, the more likely you are to spike the recipients interest and get your CV considered.

3) My theory is that a CV should be tailored to each role.

4) If you know the business is locally based, in a sector you’ve had exposure to, is a similar size to previous roles you’ve had, is experiencing growth (or the opposite) and you have encountered that, mention this in your first paragraph.

You get the idea – Highlight the fact that you’ve considered the requirements of the role and that you’re tailoring your approach.

Easy to Contact?

5) Add your LinkedIn profile to your contact details and keep an eye on who’s viewed your profile. Then follow up.

6) Make it easy for the reader to get in touch, but don’t feel the need to put your full address – The chances are no-body is going to write to you without you talking to them.

Is your personal profile personal?

7) At the senior level, personal profiles tend to be informative, however, if your profile has generic phrases, it’s certainly not personal and won’t get the level of attention or interest you want. Either change it to support the factors that are relevant to that role or Company, or even remove it and get straight to other key, relevant points.

8) Although curriculum vitae is Latin for ‘the story of your life’, keep this (and the entire CV content), brief and reader friendly – we see lots of senior candidates who want to say everything they feel is important and end up with a massive block of text. In truth though, not many readers will still be reading by the end!

9) If your qualifications and education are particularly strong, try to have this prominent on your CV. If it’s no better than the next candidate, put this towards the end as we want to keep the reader interested and excited by everything they’re seeing.

10) If you have relevant language, I.T. skills etc, highlight this in your profile too.

Abbreviations/Jargon…. or Ab’s/Jarg as we call these!

11) We see so many CVs where there are typos and abbreviations. Again, it’s just my personal opinion, but there’s really no need to shorten June to Jun, or 2018 to 18 etc. It doesn’t save time and given that an important factor for Accounting professionals is their attention to detail, please try to get that right.

12) We also see CVs where there’s a lack of consistency e.g. changes of font, some parts in italic, underlined or bold in some areas and not others etc. Proof reading is an art but checking this won’t take long and it’s well worth reviewing this.

Checklist

These may be part of that ‘egg-sucking’ exercise, but just check you haven’t fallen into any of these traps!

13) Don’t just spell check. We see CFO/COO CV’s with Americanised spellings or should I say ‘Americanized’? You haven’t been ‘specializing’ or socializing’!

14) Add a very brief overview of what your previous companies do, their size etc. A link to their website is sensible, especially if its relevant to the role or company you’re approaching.

15) Adapt your CV to the specific role, to make the most relevant skills and experience as prominent as possible. It definitely increases the chances of you getting a call if your CV immediately resonates with a job description.

16) When you last updated your CV, did you change the previous role to the past tense?

17) Don’t turn a positive into a negative. If you’ve been at one company for a while but have held different titles/roles, make it clear that it was one stint at one company with ongoing progression, as opposed to making it look like separate jobs.

18) Don’t be afraid to show personality, especially in the interest section.

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