It’s all very well being able to get your CV past a computer algorithm. But how can you make sure it packs a punch when it lands in front of a human?
In my previous article, I discussed the power of using the right keywords to make sure your CV gets past the recruitment gates. With more recruiters than ever using digital searching and algorithms for creating candidate long-lists, you want to be sure that your CV stands up digitally.
Now let’s assume you’ve got your CV past the robots, and in front of a real, live human being. Impressing the robots isn’t nearly enough, we need to get a human on side too! You want to be sure that, having got the CV past the algorithm, a human is going to be suitably impressed, and invite you to meet face-to-face.
While the last piece was just as relevant for LinkedIn, this article is much more applicable to CVs. LinkedIn has very different requirements, so applying the premise of this article to it should be done carefully.
We’ll look at a couple of things in this article that should help your prospective recruiter or employer find the most relevant information to them, in as fast a time as possible.
At this stage it’s still key to have the right keywords in place. Whether formal or subconscious, our human will have made a list of things they are looking for. Whether they are reading or just scanning your CV, I guarantee there will be phrases they are looking for.
You need to ask yourself, “What is the searcher looking for? How can I show that in an easy to find and accessible way?”
If you deliver that in your CV, your CV will make the “long-list” more often, giving your CV more chances.
Your keywords are the backbone of the CV. You identify your keywords, your core skills and competencies, and then build your CV around that to demonstrate that you are the right person for the role. The only two things a CV can ever positively demonstrate are:
- What you’ve done
- How well you’ve done it
What we are trying to do is lay out your skills in an achievement-focused, concise manner. Remember, the reader’s attention might be as short as 3-5 seconds for recruiters, and 7-10 seconds for HR or line managers.
So how do you put across what you’ve done in a professional, concise and achievement focused manner? The good news is Procurement is one of the easiest sectors to be able to do this. Bear with me!
How to Structure a Bullet Point
If you follow this structure your CV will be easy for people to pick out what they are looking for.
Word 1: Pro-active language
The use of pro-active language as the first word in each bullet point allows you to be more concise. It also gives the reader the impression you are a “get up and go” personality without you having you say it.
Use words like:
- Took ownership for
There are obviously hundreds more, but you want it to make it obvious you took the bull by the horns, and YOU did whatever it was.
Word 2-5: Subject
Putting the subject second in the structure allows someone looking for something specific to skip the rest of the line if this isn’t what they are looking for. You only get 10 seconds to make your impact, make sure they are looking at what you want them looking at for that 10 seconds.
For example, “Drove marketing spend consolidation”.
Words 5-10: Achievement or Responsibility
If you are writing your CV with separate Responsibility and Achievement sections, then you will need to vary this.
In Responsibility section
- Pro-active language
- Subject – responsibility
- Pro-active language
Make sure you put meat on the bones here and use quantitative numbers. You wouldn’t sell your boss a project to “save some money”. You would say something along the lines of “with an investment here we can save 10 per cent or £30,000”.
The 4 groups of people you are trying to communicate with are Procurement, Board level executives, recruiters or HR. All of these groups are highly numerate and commercial.
HR can be less so, but quantitative deliver more information and are hardly ever detrimental (as long as your CV doesn’t turn into a Suduko puzzle!). Use their language to your advantage.
The quantitatives don’t even need to be value based – they could be man-hours, supplier consolidations, or times. But people remember numbers (that’s why politicians use them) so put them in. It will also make your CV more concise.
For example, “Drove marketing spend consolidation with senior stakeholder and supplier engagement saving £500,000 annually.”
Always put your CV in the past tense. If you forget to add an achievement, or can’t find one, then just being in the past tense (with the right language) implies success.
If you do those 4 things consistently your CV will be a document that will be easy to read and interpret as well as look professional and put across a massive amount of your success and delivery.
Building on over a decade of corporate recruitment (and reading in the region of 250,000 CVs), Andy Wilkinson set up The Chameleon Career Consultancy to coach CV Writing, Interview Technique and LinkedIn Profile writing.