Why your CV needs to know where it’s going

Q: I’m a jack-of-all-trades in my work. I do everything and anything yet sometimes when my husband asks me what I did all day, I don’t know what to say. My job title is Marketing Executive, but, in reality, I do a whole lot more than that. I quite like the fact that my role is so varied, but I am worried about how it can all make sense on my CV? (AG, email ).

A: I can feel the confusion in your words, writes LIAM HORAN, CAREER COACH, BALLINROBE.

The first question to ask yourself is ‘what kind of job am I likely to go for next?’ That will determine how you depict your current role – or previous roles – in your CV.

A CV is heavily influenced by your immediate and long-term career plans. Without knowing where you’re going, even in general terms, it will not alone be difficult for you to write your CV, but it will also be difficult for the reader to grasp.

Do you wish to stay within marketing (in which case you focus on your marketing experience in your CV ) or are you drawn towards the more wide-ranging operations manager type role you describe above?

If it’s the latter, capturing the full extent of what you do in your current role would be a good idea. Try this for a simple line early in your CV: “My current job title is Marketing Executive, but on a day-to-day basis my job description is much broader” and then go on to elaborate on the jack-of-all-trades items you touch on above.

But without knowing where you want to go next, you will almost certainly be caught between two stools in your CV. A savvy recruiter will pick up on the doubt. Resolve the bigger question and writing the CV will become a much easier task than it is currently proving to be.

Make it real to make it work

Q: In a recent job interview, I was asked to name my greatest professional achievement. I blurted out something about getting promotion on three occasions in my last company. I didn’t know what to say. Any tips on how I – or any of your readers – might handle that question again? (TK, email ).

A: My view is that the emphasis here should be on concrete achievements that brought value to your employers – not just to you, writes SABINA TRENCH, CAREER COACH, WESTPORT.

The fact you got successive promotions does suggest a high level of performance, but your emphasis in interview should be on the evidence of that performance, rather than the promotion it created.

Why were you promoted?

Did you sell more than everybody else? And, if yes, how much did you sell? Did you expand the business into a new region? Did your team score the highest in customer reviews? And, if yes, what was that score?

Did you reduce costs by 4 per cent? Did you introduce a new process that increased productivity? Did you launch a new product? Did you stage a successful event?

There is a need for facts and figures to support your candidature. Let the interview panel see real evidence that they can evaluate. Give them reason to believe you will soon be bringing similar, tangible value to their company.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport ), Dublin, Limerick, Sligoand Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway

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