Q. I haven’t written a CV in 32 years, would you believe, for the simple reason that I haven’t needed one? I got a job immediately after leaving school and, as far as I can recall, my CV back then was a simple one-page affair. I stayed within the same company for 17 years and then got offered another job somewhere else without doing an interview as I knew the owner. In what ways have CVs changed since last I wrote one? (EC, email).
A. CVs, like almost everything else to do with careers, have changed enormously since 1990, a time when the communications revolution was just beginning to stir itself. The CV of today will appear as fresh and as unpredictable to you as a capital city does to a prisoner released after 32 years behind the big wall.
Here, I offer some pointers as you set about crafting a CV that will stand to you for the next phase of your career:
- CVs tend to be longer these days. Back then, as you say, there were a lot of one-page CVs around the place, merely citing facts such as dates of education and work experience, along with a passing doff of the cab to your sporting or community interests. These days, CVs are much more focused on giving detail that allows the reader to get a feel for you.
- Achievements are at the heart of the modern So, don’t just tell me you worked in a company for 17 years; tell me what you achieved there. Did you help the department to grow? By how much? Did you introduce new systems to make the place run smoother? Did you successfully train in a plethora of new people? So, when preparing your CV, think about what you achieved as opposed to just listing what you did. And quantify those achievements with figures, where possible.
- The modern CV also outlines skills in some detail. In the old days, a simple one word would do to indicate that you had, for example, typing or (showing my age here) shorthand. These days you need to give evidence of the skill – the level of proficiency you have at Excel, how well you know the graphic design package QuarkXPress, or the extent of your experience with the Salesforce software. Be prepared to list certifications and anything else that demonstrate your skills and expertise. If it’s true, you could mention that colleagues in the office turn to you for guidance when they have a difficulty in the area you list.
- Your community interests, sporting or other achievements can be of enormous value in the modern CV. But you need to do more here than just observing that you captained this team or excelled in that sport. Show what your sporting involvement or achievements indicate – they prove your leadership skills as you were a captain chosen by the team management; that you can commit to a project as shown by your completion of a Mizen to Malin fundraiser on the bike; or that you are good with figures as demonstrated by the fact that you are treasurer for a major local community development.
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