Optimising your CV summary for maximum exposure in 2023
Publish Date:Posted 5 months ago
The start of a fresh year marks a time where many people take stock of the previous 12 months and look ahead to their aims for the next. Not only can this lead to a wave of gym subscriptions and a drop in alcohol sales, it can also result in a surge in job applications, as people realign their goals, expectations and desires.
This occurrence has become more common than ever over the past few years in the wake of the ongoing phenomenon of The Great Resignation. The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we live and work, and for many led to a complete reset in what they wanted to get out of life. Cue a spike in resignations as large sections of the workforce adopted to change jobs, change careers or take time out for themselves.
We’ve also seen the rise of ‘Quiet Quitting’, where employees feel disengaged with their roles and cease to go ‘above and beyond’, rather do the bare minimum that’s required.
With many organisations ramping up their hiring in January as they look to hit their targets for the following year, it’s the perfect time to sharpen the CV and look for that new role. Whether you’re looking for a change of business, change of role or complete career pivot, it’s important to tailor your CV with your goal in mind. While January is a great time for vacancies, it’s also a busy time for hiring managers, and making sure your CV stands out in the pile is more important than ever.
For those coming back from a career break or looking to change their career path entirely, organising your CV is particularly crucial to making sure it best allows you to sell yourself. Particularly if you’re making a career pivot, paying attention to structure and ‘front loading’ your CV is important. This is where the summary section is key.
What to include in your CV summary section
The most important elements are your experience, skills and achievements
If you’re looking to make a career pivot, the summary section of your CV will be crucial in encouraging hiring managers to spend time reading the rest of your application. The chronological summary of employment isn’t the most important element, as in the case of a transition this will likely not be relevant in the new field or industry.
With that in mind, top load your CV with your strongest assets. Focus on the broader achievements, experience, and skills. If you’ve spent time managing people in your current or previous job, highlight this as a leading point. Highlight the skills that you have, the things you have achieved, and even what you are known for personally. For roles that receive a high volume of applications, many hiring managers won’t make it past the summary paragraph, so make sure it’s filled with relevant information.
Mirror the job description
When reading the job description of the role that you’re applying for, take the time to analyse the key points and skills required to be a successful applicant. Pick out a handful of key points that are particularly important and then tailor you introduction to yourself accordingly. Consider the below example job brief description:
We are looking for a Project Engineer / Project Manager to join our business within the house construction industry. As Project Manager you will: • Manage equipment supply projects from initial design, through procurement, manufacture, inspection and testing, to delivery, construction and commissioning. • Manage several projects simultaneously, ensure equipment and materials are procured and received on schedule, manage and engage with suppliers and fabricators • Ensure that projects meet agreed budget, schedule, safety and performance targets, and comply with all applicable legislation.
Highlighted in bold are some example key points to make clear from your CV summary. Even though the role falls within the house building sector, this role is a key example of a role where transferable skills from other areas of construction. Tailor your introduction accordingly.
Emphasise leadership skills
If there are one set of skills that have the highest potential for transferability across different sectors and roles it’s leadership skills. According to a survey, almost half (47%) of UK adults think leadership is by far the most important skill for their manager to possess.
Some key leadership skills that hiring managers look for include:
Analytical decision making Analytical decision makers use facts from a variety of sources to inform the decisions they make. This could require research, analysis and stakeholder engagement to ensure that the decisions you make are the correct ones for the larger business.
Communication Effective communication, both written and verbal, is important at all levels of business. From a managerial point of view, it’s important to be clear with your team on their goals, targets and purpose. Hiring managers look for those able to effectively communicate with those above you in the hierarchy, such as senior managers and the c-suite in order to understand and effectively interpret the wider business mission.
Adaptability and problem solving While mission, purpose and values usually remain static, goals, targets and processes often change, sometimes rapidly. This can be a result of problems emerging or short term goals changing. Being adept at adapting to these is key and will cascade down to your team members.
Strategic thinking As part of a businesses overarching purpose and values, thinking flexibly and astutely, bringing elements such as competitor analysis and goals into the mix, to think strategically is another key element of leadership. It enables you to drive forwards with a goal in mind and drive your team to the same ends.
Relationship building No man is an island. The same applies to people in positions of leadership. Building effective and efficient relationships between stakeholders at all levels is crucial. On your CV, perhaps highlight examples of where you’ve forged relationships with other employees at all levels of the business, even outside of an actual leadership role.
Motivational skills Effectively motivating your team is one the essentials of good leadership. This could include goal setting and providing support and encouragement to empower their teams to the best possible results, particularly in times of high pressure.
Consider highlighting examples of the above in your CV summary to encourage hiring managers to read on through the rest of your application and be sure to include examples of these in the body of your CV through each of your previous roles, particularly if you’re looking to transition into a new field where your academic achievements may be less important or relevant.
General CV writing tips
Some other quick CV writing tips include:
Read the job description… and research the business It might seem self-explanatory, but read the description thoroughly to highlight the key points. Also take the time to research the company you’re applying for, if it’s known. What values do they have, and how might you align to them?
Format your CV correctly Nothing puts hiring managers off more than a messy, confusing and poorly formatted CV. Make it clear, concise and neat. Consider extensive use of bullet points, and keep in mind your CV may be inputted into an Applicant Tracking System which automates the CV selection process, so consider these tips to best tailor it with that in mind.
Don’t waste space Keeping your CV length to a minimum is also important. Be economic with the information you select to present. For example, no hiring manager needs to see a complete rundown of every GCSE subject you took – simply list how many A* to C grades you received. Also, don’t feel the need to include references. Employers should only request the names and contact details of your references when the job has been offered.
Following these tips is sure to set your 2023 job search off on the right track.