CV Guidelines and Helpful Hints
What should your CV contain?
Remember: clients only look at your CV for 30 to 60 seconds, so a strong front page is critical.
Your contact details
- Your mobile and home phone numbers
- Your home address, including the county or region of the UK, even if you live in a large city. Royal Mail may only need a post code but we require more detailed information. If you have more than one address in the UK, provide both, as this may spell the difference between winning and not winning an assignment. A client may require a candidate to work in a particular part of the country but doesn’t want to pay expenses.
- If you live or have another home in or outside the UK, specify where it is. We often look for candidates who live overseas or have to live within commutable distance of the assignment.
Your profile should be at the top of your CV as a snapshot of who you are and your expertise. It should sum up your sector experience, responsibilities and achievements and specify your ideal functional role.
Your chronological career history, including competencies
Your interim work experience is the most valuable part of your CV for the interim market. The most recent five to ten years of your career is the period clients are most interested in. This information helps them determine whether you have the recent and relevant sector and functional experience they currently need.
- Include the dates you worked for an organisation in months and years. If you carried out several different roles for the company during this period, list them separately, even if they overlap.
- Briefly describe each organisation you worked for. Was it a limited company, plc, partnership, government organisation or big household name?
- What were your responsibilities and achievements within each organisation? Quantify your achievements in pounds or percentage terms. How many people did you manage, and in what parts of the business? Be specific. If you managed a large team, how many direct reports did you have helping you?
- If you have strong experience in any of the following areas, flag it up, as clients will be looking for specific phrases when scanning your CV.
- Business Process Reengineering
- Management buyout or management buy-in
- Merger and acquisition
- Organisational development
- Post-acquisition integration
- Strategic planning and turnaround
- Key competencies are vital in interim management, so highlight particular strengths in any of the following:
- Planning and organisation
- Results orientation
- Coaching and mentoring
- Use specific functional titles to describe what you did, such as Chief Executive, Programme Director or Finance Director. Roles such as Senior Manager, Director, Vice-President, Interim Manager or Consultant are too general. If necessary, change the title you were given to more accurately reflect what you did, and give specific details of your role.
Education, qualifications and personal information
- Your university and functional qualifications, including the dates you received them, are important. You should list them at the end of your CV, following your work history.
- School qualifications and personal details, including hobbies, are of little interest. If you have represented your country in the Olympics, written a best-selling book, or hold a world record, you might want to mention it. If your interests are gardening, the theatre and golf, as most people’s are, then leave them off.
- Only mention languages if you are business fluent.
- If you have recent international experience and would like to live or work overseas, highlight it. Specify the countries and regions of the world where you have strong experience. But you need to have lived there for two months or more for it to count, as the client will expect you to have in-depth knowledge of that country’s culture, employment law and market drivers.
- Size is important. There are many views on how long a CV should be. The CV we have on our register is likely to be longer than the more focused and tailored CV you will submit for a specific role. A three page CV would be about the right length to cover the most recent five-to-ten year period that most clients are interested in.
- Make it readable
- The first few words of every bullet point or sentence should tell a story.
- Short sentences make more of an impact.
- Write in the past tense, in the third person, not “I”.
- Read your CV aloud and you will see what you need to correct. Alternatively, ask a friend or relation to look at it: they are more likely to be objective than you are, particularly when it comes to your achievements.
- Install a spell check for UK English and keep using it.
- Make it easy for us
- We need your CV in Word format, not as a PDF file. We don’t want to have to download it from your website either. Ariel 10pt is ideal.
- Please don’t put your CV into tables or a similar format. We store Word documents on our register, and this is the format in which we send them to our clients, as they are easy to scroll through and view. We aim for speed and efficiency in retrieving and sending documents.
- Keep it up to date
- As you work on an interim project, record what you are doing. Then, when you update your CV, you will have the information to hand rather than trying to remember the details of what might have been a lengthy assignment.
- Note your achievements in particular, along with the value you have added to the client’s business, in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
- Avoid repetition. You can describe a sector, responsibility or achievement in a number of different ways, so use this to maximise your exposure opposed to repeating the same words. The easy way to prevent this is to carry out a Word check as you edit it.
- Keep the same layout for your permanent and interim career. But describing two years of interim management experience in three lines doesn’t give the respective roles you have performed the weight or merit they require.
- Registering and continually updating your CV via the Impact Executives website (www.impactexecutives.com) enables you to accurately record your sector and functional experience.
Other communication tools
- Have a personal and informative mobile phone voice message rather than relying on an electronic one.
- Does your business card provide a good snapshot of who you are and what you have to offer in your interim career? It could be one of many someone is handed at an event. Personalise it by having a line or two on the back about you and your relevant experience.
- Including professional qualifications beside your name on your card and your CV will provide an instant guide to at least some of your experience.
- On your email sign-off, include your full name and mobile phone number.