Common sense I know, but it’s worth reiterating that your CV is your shop window and should reflect, as succinctly and professionally as possible, all of your relevant achievements and experience to date.
Remember that when a headhunter or recruiter reads a CV we speed-read it, looking for all the key words that are relevant to our current search, often only reviewing the first page before we make an initial decision. At this stage we are in information overload, often reading or reviewing hundreds of profiles on and offline to settle on three piles – ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’!
The ‘yes’ pile probably holds our shortlist and your CV needs to be in there!
So what should you focus on?
Every headhunter has their own personal preferences but I believe that you need to start with a strong positioning statement describing your potential role or roles with supporting information which is relevant to the role that you are applying for, to make us read further e.g:
‘A CEO who has founded, grown and exited a software business taking it from £0 to £60m turnover before the sale to…”
“An experienced VP Sales in the Enterprise software space having worked for…and managed teams of up to 40 sales professionals…”
Starting with your current company/position you can then chronologically list dates and details of employment, making careful notes to show consistency, following the format below:
Current Company – e.g. Dell
Role – e.g. Director of Software Engineering
Remit -To deliver x software project to time and to budget managing three teams of 20 software engineers
Achievements - Delivered x, y and Z…probably as succinct bullet points.
There are various formats/templates available on the web but try to avoid over complicating it with tables and graphs. A plain white background is best, with a maximum of 3 pages and don’t use more than 2 different font styles. A one page resume is useful to have but often will not contain enough information about achievements etc to open the required door to that next opportunity.A photo is often useful but make sure that it is clear, recent and professional! Personal information can be left to the end of the CV but don’t forget to put your name and phone number on each page in case the pages become disconnected after printing.
Remember that you may be approached by a headhunter when you least expect it and that you always need to have an up-to-date document ready to go. The danger with spending too long preparing/updating your CV is that you may miss the deadline for shortlisting and thus the opportunity.
For challenging, difficult to fill, politically sensitive or very senior roles, Executive Search is still the most widely used approach after networking and most senior executives move jobs in this way.
Caroline Hayward, CEO