Your CV should start with a personal statement or profile, which is supposed to be a summary of your career to date and why you are the right candidate for the role. In short – it's your chance to shine, to sell yourself and entice the employer or recruiter to read the rest of your CV.
The rest of your CV should be a document that highlights key achievements and gives an overview of your work history so much so that the reader will begin to visualise you in the role and offer you an interview as they want to find out more about you. It's the paper equivalent of carrot dangling.
It never ceases to concern me that so many job seekers, I believe, could have secured interviews and in turn, employment if only their CVs actually marketed their real skills. Let me explain…
Every day, I see similar profiles along the lines of this example:
“I am a hard working individual with a flexible attitude who takes pride in their work. I am self-motivated and have the ability to work on my own initiative or as part of a team. I am punctual, reliable and pay attention to detail. I have a proven track record of prioritising my workload and can work to tight deadlines ensuring standards are met. I have excellent customer service skills and would relish the chance to work for a company where I can utilise my skills.”
Well, that's lovely and just like the majority of CVs out there, BUT it doesn't tell the employer what you can do. What skills do you have? Why should they hire you? Are your top skills being reliable and punctual? Of course not! You are so much better than that!
Other vocabulary offenders are loyal, friendly, excellent communication skills, people person, perfectionist, passionate, dedicated, sociable and proactive. There are many more, but I am sure you are starting to get the picture. These words and phrases including the above example profile just don't tell the employer anything about you and makes you look the same as every other competing candidate out there.
It doesn't bode well if all your CV claims is that you are just a bog standard applicant who can only stipulate the basic requirements of most job roles as selling points. When you work for most companies, it's an expectation that you will be reliable, punctual, hard working and loyal. If you want to keep your job then the basic standards to achieve will be that you will prioritise your workload and meet deadlines or targets. Everything described above is a given – these words and phrases will not make you stand out from the crowd. Think of the poor reader who will be nodding off at the repetition of each CV and application form in their pile of doom.
Your CV or application is a marketing tool. It's your window of opportunity to shine.
There seems to be a current trend for including a section after the profile labelled “Key Skills.” If you have any key skills that are relevant to the job role, that will set you apart from other candidates, then by all means go ahead. Stating that your key skills are any of the above offending words or phrases such as cash handling, key holder or computer literate will not have any recruiter jumping for joy shouting “Hold all applications! I have found the perfect candidate! This person can handle money, lock doors and surf the internet!”
Absolutely every word or phrase on your CV or application should add value. It should show the potential employer how you will be of benefit to them and scream out why they need you. There is no need to add a key skills section unless you have something amazing to add that really needs to be highlighted outside of your profile. Resist the temptation to follow the crowd and stuff your CV or application full of unnecessary words that will only serve to detract from what you can actually do; how brilliant you are.
So, now's your chance to take a look at your CV and see if there are any vocabulary sins that just make you look like a carbon copy of the next person. Make the changes before your next application. Just think – if you show you are different from everyone else and highlight your real skills, your CV will escape the shredder and be placed firmly on the interview desk.
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Author Jules Halliday