Making sense of your mixum-gatherum career, our weekly column from various newspapers around Ireland

Q: You’ve written on a number of occasions about portfolio careers. I think I may fall into that category. I work as an office manager for a medium-sized manufacturing firm three days a week, and the other two days I divide my time between playing in a band and doing some graphic design on a freelance basis. Plus, over the years, I have held many different types of part-time and full-time positions.

Now I am looking to leave my main job, though, to move to an account manager role with an event management company. If I got that, I’d have to give up my freelance graphic design work. I can cope with that. What’s causing me difficulty, though, is how I should present my CV? I’m conscious that my career path isn’t exactly straighforward.

Any tips?

A: People with portfolio careers frequently struggle to offer a clear definition of what they do. The key is to focus on the audience you’re speaking to – and then tailor your CV and interview performance accordingly.

So rather than slavishly listing your roles in chronological fashion, start instead with a page entitled ‘What the event management company are looking for.’ On it, write down their key needs, which might be:

  • Ability to multi-task;
  • Capacity to build relationships with people;
  • Coolness under pressure;
  • Outstanding time management skills;
  • Resourcefulness – that ability some people have to just find a way, to get things done by hook or by crook;
  • Strong communication skills and willingness to build rapport;
  • Decisiveness.

Then, beside each of those attributes, write down examples of when and where you have exhibited them in your career to date. You may have demonstrated coolness under pressure when completing graphic design projects against tight print deadlines, for example.

Your overall career should prove good time management skills and ability to multi-task. Systematically work through the attributes and see what kind of profile you build up of yourself.

When you’ve that done, you have the first half page of your CV almost written. To transfer it to your CV, create two headlines: 1. Personal Profile, 2. Key Skills, Achievements and Characteristics.

Drawing from what you have scribbled, flesh out both of those sections. Make them concrete by referring to specific elements of your career.

You could then move onto a third section called Relevant Work Experience – here you again list the job roles you’ve held that are most relevant to the event management role. Give detail of each role – there will be some crossover between here and the earlier sections, but that’s permissible.

When you’ve all of that done, you should have a really strong front page, and maybe a bit more of your CV. From there on, list Other Work Experience, Education, Hobbies & Community/Voluntary Involvement, and Referees. You could consider using your graphic design skills to present the CV in a fresh and professional manner.

You should then have a CV that gets the event management recruiter nodding their heads. It should be about 800 words and contained within two pages.

Be aware that event management like people with a broad range of skills because it is a broadly-based industry. So you’ve nothing to fear on that front. Best of luck with your application.

Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.