It’s true that much has changed in recruitment over the past few years, but your CV or resume is just as important today as it ever was. But how it’s reviewed has changed. Many CVs are processed via an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), held within a database or even reviewed by non-recruiters or hiring managers. So you need to make sure your CV is accessible no matter how it’s tracked and assessed.
I’ve worked in the recruitment industry and advised applicants on CV writing for many years, but even I found writing my own CV incredibly hard. It’s often even more difficult if you’ve worked with one company for many years but through a number of roles – or an expanded role.
These are my Top Tips for getting your CV to sell your skills and experience within Marketing:
1 Be clear about past employers. State what each past employer does and their industry sector; this will help recruiters match your knowledge to specific vacancies more quickly. For example, growing IT Services provider, circa £3million Turnover.
2 Show progression. If you’ve been with one company but progressed through a number of roles, show the entire time you worked with that company as your employment period and break down each specific role underneath. This demonstrates progression rather than suggesting ‘job hopping’.
3 Personalised profile. Write a short, punchy profile or summary which is specific for the job you’re applying for. Research the company, be clear on the skillset needed and demonstrate where your skills and experience are a good fit.
4 Keep the layout simple. Complicated or overly designed formats are less compatible with ATS or tracking systems. A confused layout or unusual font makes it difficult to read and draw out key information. Content is far more important than design (even for a designer!).
5 Cut the waffle. Use small, succinct paragraphs and bullet points to make content easy to navigate and digest.
6 Include achievements. Where relevant, include facts and figures to back up claims which make your achievements more believable, quantifiable and compelling. For example, a) Product development and account retention for two large clients with a combined value of circa £50m per annum or b) successfully set up and managed the press office and media programme resulting in a 250% increase in media coverage
7 Explain job titles if needed. Some job titles may not be representative of your actual role or not well understood to an external recruiter. Put an alternative in brackets by way of explanation, or include a sub heading to put your role into context ie. ‘Reporting to Marketing Director, managing a team of six ranging from Brand Managers to Marketing Executives across the UK and Ireland with a marketing budget of £x’. We recently came across ‘Marketing and Content Analyst’ (which was an event programme improvement role) and ‘Technical Innovation Lead’ which was actually Head of Product Marketing!
8 Include relevant industry keywords. Review the job description and use their language to create a natural connection. But don’t go overboard with jargon and in-house terms which will not be understood by an external recruiter. You should make it clear if your experience is B2B, B2C or both and if your role covered areas such as marketing, product development, product marketing, channel marketing, brand management, community management etc.
9 Keep cover letters short and sweet – unless requested otherwise. Include relevant information such as ‘being made redundant and looking to start ASAP’ or perhaps any personal connections with the employer which might help you stand out.
10 Don’t overlook the importance of accuracy, spelling and grammar. Be confident in selling your strengths and achievements, but be prepared to back up every statement you make. Poor spelling and grammar are rarely forgiven so use a spellchecker, check and double check, take a fresh look the next day and ask for help from trusted friends, family or colleagues as a set of ‘fresh eyes’.