Do your online profiles and CV really do you justice?
So if your future job search needs to be viewed a sales and marketing campaign, your online profiles (including that within #TLH), CV/ resume and cover letters all have to be structured and designed to encourage the reader to take action.
To make direct contact with you and to start a conversation!
It is highly unlikely that you'll be able to conclude a 'deal' with your 'sales' materials, but you need to be careful not to close off the chance of a deal before you're even in the game! This is what many CV's/ online profiles do.
This session in the #TLH Essentials series takes you step by step through the process of developing your 'materials' that will allow you to stand out from the crowd and attract opportunities to you.
In the previous session, you identified the core value that you can deliver to your future clients/ employers. You also developed your 'elevator' pitch. Have these handy as you progress through this session as they will form an integral part of your 'sales materials'.
If you've not completed the "Understanding Your Proposition" session, go back and complete it now prior to starting this session!
A key premise in developing your new 'sales materials' is to understand this simple truth - clients and organisations are not interested in 'what you've done', they are only interested in 'what you can do for them'. This is where 95% of people get it wrong - they pack their CVs/ resumes with long descriptions of what they have done in the past, often highlighting lots of activities.
Honestly, hiring managers are not interested and find the process very frustrating to create a shortlist because most CVs/ Resumes look/ feel the same!
You need to start to look at things differently. You need to view things from the prospective of your client/ employer. You need to start talking about the value that you have delivered, you need to be clear about how your achievements supported the business objectives and enabled them to achieve their desired outputs.
The emphasis has to be on THEM, not you!
Grab a copy of your existing CV/ Resume and find a red pen and a highlighter. Now imagine that you received this CV from somebody looking to join your team. Go through the CV line by line and highlight all of the areas where you can see 'value' being delivered. Equally score out in red pen all of the statements that make you respond - 'So What!'
Remember, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of your CV. You need to remember that this is probably one of maybe 20/ 30 that you have to review. In situations like this, your focus is probably more on 'let's reduce the number by quickly rejecting CV's that don't jump out', rather than taking a more thoughtful, long read through all 20/30 CV's to hand!
How does you CV look now?
Experience suggests that 80% of you are looking at a minimum of 4/5 pages where over 80% of the content has been 'scored out' in red, 15% will have a equal portion of red and highlighter and no more than 5% will have significantly more highlighted than 'scored out' in red.
What's does yours look like?
Now do the same with your social media profiles, especially Linkedin and #TLH, given that these will be the two main areas that prospective clients/ employers will come and check you out. Consistency is the key across all of your sales materials.
What does good look like?
We will come to 'design' later but in terms of content, your CV/ resume needs to be rammed with statements that emphasise the value that you delivered, that answer the question WIIFM - (what's in it for me).
Remember the sole purpose of your CV/ resume is to open up a discussion and/or interview.
As such, you must do the thinking for the reader and make it easy for them to say - wow, that's interesting, I wonder....
Don't forget that we are all motivated by the two factors of moving away from Pain and moving towards Pleasure - ensure that each statement on your CV/ Resume/ profiles focus on at least one of these.
Let's demonstrate with a simple example;
A typical CV will include a statement such as; "Reviewed end to end process, removed duplication and reduced time to complete by 10%"
On the face of it, this highlights some element of value but if everyone is positioning themselves in this way, how do you stand out from the crowd?
To make this statement really stand out, let's really investigate what that 10% means to the client/ employer. Let's try to put a value on that 10% - how many man-hours did this save? what is the average cost of each man-hour? over the course of 12 months, what is the overall saving? how did this saving improve customer service? did this improvement result in higher levels of sales? These are the types of questions that you need to be asking.
Once you do this, you might find that the above statement can now read like; "Reduced costs by £348,560 p.a. whilst increasing average sales value to £432 (from £398) which will deliver circa £450k additional revenue in the next 12 months by simplifying and automating XYZ process"
If you have two CVs in front of you one including the first statement and one the second, which will you naturally want to talk to?
Let's quickly look at another example: "Introduced a staff engagement survey and moved the dial from 6 out of 10 to 8 out of 10 within 12 months". Again, think about the impact of this on the organisation - did the improvement in scores affect staff retention? did it support a recruitment process? did it have an impact on customer service?
An alternative way to describe this would be; "Reduced staff attrition rates by 20%, saving the company an estimated £175,000 p.a in recruitment/ induction costs, by designing & implementing a staff engagement survey and driving an action plan to improve the areas highlighted"
Go back to you CV/ resume and review every statement that you have made and attempt to rewrite each with the above process in mind. Some will not be easy to assign a £/$ value to, immediately. However, by asking some of the questions above, you probably can make an educated estimate at the financial value delivered. When doing so, look for both cost savings and revenue enhancements within each activity - in most cases you will be able to find both!
Don't worry if you need to drop any of the activities that you had in your CV/ resume because you can't attribute value in this way - these were not adding any value to your CV in any case!
Now you have a clear understanding of your Value Proposition, you have your "Elevator Pitch' sorted and a list of 'Value focused' experiences ready to drop into your CV/ profiles, you're all set to go. Aren't you?
To really change the rules of the game and to stand out from the crowd, you need to make your CV/ resume/ online profiles look and feel different. What you have done so far is to ensure that once you've got the attention of a recruiter, a hiring manager or a potential client, the way that you describe the value that you can deliver will encourage action and the start of a discussion. However, that is all wasted time if you can't grab their attention in the first place! As they are looking through the list of 20/30 CVs/resumes, yours needs to jump out at them - it needs to be different, it needs to shout - STOP, YOU NEED TO INVESTIGATE THIS FURTHER!
Take a look at Option A & Option B - which one grabs your attention immediately?
Option A is better than most CVs/ Resumes that we see, but I'm sure that you will agree that Option B is more attention grabbing - and that's before you get into the detail.
Option B would be further enhanced by having a 'head and shoulders' image included. You may feel uncomfortable in including such an image but remember what is the purpose of your CV/ resume - it is simply to get the reader to think - I need to meet/ open up a dialogue with this person.
We are attracted to faces - so utilise this natural attraction grabber within your CV/ resume - take advantage of this fact, don't shy away from it!
Now that we are clear about the style - you can download a template that we think works best - you need to start to think about what you should include. Again, think about your CV/ Resume as your sales brochure. There is a proven marketing approach that is equally relevant here - AIDA;
A= Attention - you need to grab the attention of the reader
I = Interest - once you have their attention, you need to build interest quickly
D = Desire - now that you've got them interested, you need to get them to think - "wow, I really need to see this person"
A - Action - you have got to get them to take action so make it easy for them
Let's have a look at the CV below and consider where/ how you can integrate AIDA into your marketing materials...
Which elements of this resume grab your attention?
The Image - we are all attracted to a smiling face
Executive Summary - this would be a version of your 'Elevator Pitch'
Relevant Achievements - these will be tailored to the specific role/ organisation
Which elements are aimed at building the interest of the reader?
Relevant Achievements - if relevant to their needs, these will build interest quickly
Experience - notice that we lead with the company name - again people are attracted to those people that have worked with similar or well known companies
You build desire within your reader via;
Executive Summary - your elevator pitch needs to speak direct to them.
Experience - 3/4 bullet points against each role, all focused on the value that you delivered, not the activity itself.
Every part of your CV/ Resume should direct the reader to take action - to want to get in touch with you for a deeper discussion about your experience and the specific role that they are looking to fill. Making it easy for them to contact you with multiple contact points is critical but often forgotten element.
Your CV/ Resume shouldn't be any longer than one to two pages, ideally one. With your cover letter, you can indicate that you can provide additional information on each of the roles if required. Equally, some recruitment agents will want to receive a CV in a more standard format, so that they can easily 'cut and paste' onto their in-house style prior to shortlisting. As such, it may be worth having a more detailed version available upon request.
Utilise the template provided or develop something similar yourself and restructure your CV/ resume as discussed above. Whenever you start questioning whether to include something or not, put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and ask the question - will this help me to stand out from the crowd in respect to the specific role/ organisation that I'm targeting? If the answer is Yes - include it as discussed above. If the answer is No or Not Sure, leave it out!
You need to leave sufficient space on the sheet of paper to allow the eyes to focus on the important aspects - the things that you want the recipient to read and embrace - this is definitely the place where 'less is more'.
Remember that we are not looking for a 'one size fits all' approach, rather we are looking for a CV that is tailored to the identified needs of the role/ organisation. As such, a pick 'n' mix approach is more relevant where you choose the most relevant areas to focus on dependent upon the role/ organisation.
Remember, the best CVs/ resumes 'speak' to prospective clients/ employers!
The Importance of a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a personal sales letter and like all good sales letters, the focus has to be on the reader. It has to tap into their hopes (moving towards pleasure) and fears (moving away from pain). Your CV/ resume will by definition focus on your past achievements and will provide some indication of the future value that you could deliver. The Cover Letter provides you with an opportunity to inject some rocket fuel.
Lots of people either don't send a cover letter or when they do, it's so generic that in reality it is a waste of the paper that it's written on or the 'bytes' that it utilises if electronic! Used correctly though and it will propel you to the top of the list of those people the hiring manager wants to see.
Your cover letter should;
The AIDA principle applied here as well - see the example within the Downloads sesction above.
Let's analyse what a great cover letter consists of;
All of the material that you have developed for your cover letter and CV/ resume - i.e. your sales materials can now be repurposed within your online profiles, especially those on #TLH and Linkedin.
Your headline should be your elevator pitch.
Your key achievements should be at the very top of your profile description
The 2/3 bullet points outlining the value that you have delivered within each of your roles should be included (and nothing else)
A more focused session on Linkedin is being developed and will be made available to you soon.
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