So, if my inbox over the past few weeks is anything to go by, we must be in a New year and people are getting their usual January Job itches.
“Barry, would you mind having a look at the attached CV, I think it may time for my next challenge”
“Barry, what is the executive market looking like- much out there for someone like me?”
“I’m not a celebrity, but please get me out of here!” (genuine opening to an e-mail last week-you know you you are). Needless to say, before I start looking for something for them, I will make them eat a witchety grub and crawl around in underground dungeons full of rats and spiders!
But the biggest request over the past few weeks has been from my executive clients and candidates (Director, Exec Director or CEO) to check over their CVs, ready for a year of “New year, New Job” (god I hate that strap-line that all recruiters use at this time of year- it makes me shudder!), so I thought I’d write a few blogs covering some of the main things to consider.
I suppose the first question is whether the rules for writing an executive CV or a CV for an operational officer differ, and the answer is both yes and no.
The principles of writing a CV for any level of professional are the same. I wrote a series on how to create a great CV last year and can be found here. However, there are some other considerations or approaches you can use as an executive to help you to stand out of the crowd, because you’ll need to- the market is very “applicant heavy” and so no matter how good you are, you need to give your CV and job applications due attention.
To give you an idea of the current market, I recruited a permanent Chief Executive at the end of last year and even though it was December (apparently no-one looks for jobs in December!?!?), and even though the salary wasn’t as high as many others in the market, we received interest from over 100 applicants, full applications from 76 people and of those, 37 were worth consideration. 10 years ago, you would probably get 10 applications and 5 would have merited going through the process.
Barry’s top 3 Tips to make your Executive CV shine…
- Drop the personal profile
Instead of a standard Personal Profile description, consider using that space as a Career Objective or Mission Statement. If you operate at Director Level or above, you won’t be brought in to keep a seat warm or carry out functions within a process. If someone asks me to find them a Director of Housing for example, they are talking about where the business is, and where it is going, and then they type of experience and personality they need to take them there. Therefore, it makes sense that you should play to that. Pitch yourself as the person with the relevant experience and personality/values to deliver their objectives. It is a subtle difference but make it a statement of intent rather than a generic description of capabilities.
2. Develop your Key Achievements
In my other blog regarding standard CV writing, I talk about the importance of including 3-5 Key Achievements, and this is still the case, but you may want to develop them a bit further. For example, a rents officer may write:
“Reduced arrears by 35% within 3 months”- that is great, it shows the impact of that person, and there is likely a few processes behind this that has helped that person to achieve that.
An Executive level person often needs to summarise complex issues in a soundbite and there can be multiple ways of arriving at the result. I suggest using the CAR framework (Challenge Action Result) to help keep it concise.
- Think of your Personal Brand
This is critical in not only aligning your CV appropriately, but this awareness will save you time in applying for the right roles that align with your skills. When I meet with Directors or Chief Executives to discuss their next move, I’ll often ask them why they are moving on, what they are looking for. I am not exaggerating when I say I think at least 95% will respond with something to the affect of, “looking for a challenge/need a new challenge”. We then have to peel that back to discover what represents that challenge and what floats their boat. This self-awareness is key and most people at this level know what their strengths and weaknesses are, so make sure this is reflected through out your CV (and also on your other social networks, especially Linkedin).
Lets face it, how many CVs have you read that give you no answers as to who the person is and what they are about? If you start to think of the above, it should hopefully start to re-align your CV from a standard, function and skill CV, to a more motivational, visionary document which will excite, rather than bore the reader (i.e. your future employer!)
A CV is a sales document, not an enyclopedia!
Barry Forsythe is Manager of Greenacre Midlands Division, overseeing the Executive/Senior Level candidacy and vacancies across the East & West Midlands region. Barry has worked in recruitment for over 16 years and works alongside organisations to deliver advice, insights and experience to housing and associated industry professionals throughout the UK.