Writing a CV is far from a straightforward task, it represents who you are and more importantly who you want to be. People say ‘dress for the job you want not the job you have’, the same can be said for your CV here are 5 tips to dress your CV for success.
1. Know what you want
Before you start have a clear idea of the kind of role you are looking for and tailor your CV to this. A broad CV that could be used for a multitude of applications can appear generic and a confused message will not make you stand out.
When working with recruitment agencies knowing what you want means that they can focus on that specific area and not offer you roles you aren’t really interested in.
Tailoring your CV is very important if you are looking to progress from more technical roles into senior management. Employers looking to fill these roles want to see that you not only have the technical skills and experience but also solid leadership and business skills. When talking about your achievements try to think of them from a strategic level – what was the business impact and can you quantify it.
2. Speak the right language
Is the tech language barrier holding your CV back? The person reading your CV may not be a technical executive, is your CV to understand from this perspective? Ask someone to read it who is not an IS professional.
Remember just because you are applying for a job at a tech organisation it doesn’t mean they want all the technical details. Not everyone in the organisation will ‘speak tech’, that is why they are hiring you. As an IS worker you will be reporting to or working with non-technical staff, show that you are capable of translating information security and risk issues.
As mentioned above to move into senior management you should show both technical and business skills. To speak the right language consider the business impact if your achievements.
3. Skills Match
With business talking about the IT skills gap, they are willing to be more competitive over securing the right talent. If you have these ‘hard to find skills’ it is important to make them stand out.
Have you made it clear that your skills match the job? With multiple applications to read for every vacancy, employers may be skimming for keyword skills – this may make them overlook your CV if you haven’t highlighted them. Consider your language, are you using the same terms that recruiters use with regards to skills. Using the wrong phrasing could also mean that you are not found from searches.
If you say you have a skill or achievement then back it, instead of saying you have a skill say what you did with it. Try to talk about your achievement, saying what you were required to do does not demonstrate that you did those duties or excelled at them. What did you do, where did you succeed and can you give a value – 10% increased market share etc.
Don’t make assumptions about what is important to the employer. When using a recruiter ask questions about the role you have been put forward for and what skills they want. They will have spoken to the hiring manager and will have more insight of the specifications and who will be reading your CV than can be seen from job advert. Does the CV you have sent give all the information they need to ‘sell’ you.
4. Sales & Marketing
When job hunting, you are looking to sell yourself into organisations. In the same way as a successful marketing campaign you need to think about your USPs (unique selling points), the competition, your target market and your sales channels.
What is it that separates you from everyone else Information Security or Security sales? What do you want to be known for doing? Where do you see yourself working – companies, sector, county? What is your ‘route to market’ – networking, jobsearch, specialist recruiters? These are important questions to ask yourself.
5. Clear and Concise
If finding a job is a sales and marketing campaign then your CV is your advertisement. Remember most people are sold a product from the advertisement not from the instruction manual. Try not to get carried away with in-depth technical details, you may think that by cutting down your CV that something is missing, but you can always expand on these points in your interview.
All the information that proves you are the best person for the job needs to be the first page – relevant skills and experience. You need to have their attention within the first 30seconds – if you can do it in the first sentence then even better.
Tor Macleod, Director at Via Resource
Tor is Director and Founder of the information security recruitment consultancy Via Resource Group. He writes about InfoSec, security trends and IT Security careers. You can follow him on Twitter @ViaResource or read his security blog.