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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  27 Jan 2009

MANAGEMENT: CEO's Again Writing Their CV's


Recent Western Cape Business News

Tough economic times and increased demands on top executives, have seen a flurry of change in the top echelons of corporate SA in the past year with more than 23 chief executives resigning or retiring in 2008 – nearly double the 12 of the previous year and ten times more than the two in 2005.

In recent months, more shake-ups due to retrenchment and side-lining of mediocre or poor performers, has resulted in mid and top management level professionals pounding the streets in search of executive jobs.

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, MD of Cape Town-based Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters says for those executives who need to get back into the job market, a good CV is key to opening new doors.

“They need this whether they intend remaining in SA where their corporate achievements and reputations might be well known, or are considering leaving the country and will need to start afresh with little or no network to rely on.”

She says there is an art to CV writing that even top executives get wrong from time to time.

“Job seekers at executive level are often either too humble or too blasé to note and highlight their achievements and accomplishments, which are essential in allowing a future employer or headhunter to differentiate their skills and talents from the rest.

“They often don’t consider the balance between excessive detail, which can make a CV too lengthy, and excessive summary, which may make it difficult for the employer to appreciate the range, depth and scope of their experience”.

She says the trick is to highlight achievements in order to grab the readers’ attention, but one also needs to provide ‘proof points’ of your achievements by providing enough detail to bring the words on your CV to life.

To attract the right attention, secure your position on the Headhunting Shortlist, and ensure your CV stays at the top of the candidate pile, here are easy to follow pointers from Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters:

Never lie. Don’t even over-exaggerate your experience and skills. If you get invited for an interview based on the information in your CV and it is discovered that you have been misleading in any way, your credibility will be immediately destroyed.  

Don’t be sloppy. There is nothing more off-putting as typo’s, bad grammar, poor spelling, and dates (of qualifications or tenure at various companies) that do not tie up. These mistakes indicate one of two things in a headhunter or employers’ mind - either you have no attention to detail or you do not care about the quality of your output. Neither of these options will get you a job offer.  

Motivate yourself. Your CV is the first opportunity for you to make a good impression on an organisation – think of it as your personal brand message, and try to accompany your CV with a motivating letter that gives the reader a good idea of who you are. Try not to fall into clichés – using adjectives like: ‘hard-working’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘driven’, ‘disciplined’ are likely to land you on the mediocre pile. Try to write something original and well thought out, with demonstrable examples of your personal qualities and achievements.  

Customise it. When responding to an advertisement, tailor your CV to meet with requirements of the job described. Make it easy for the individual screening CV’s to see how you might be suitable for the role by highlighting qualifications, skills and experience that are appropriate to the role advertised.

Bullet points. A CV in ‘bullet’ point format, as opposed to essay style is more pleasing on the eye and easier to scan.

Be contactable. Make sure that all your contact details are on the CV with as many vehicles of communication available as possible (cell, home and work phone lines, email).

Don’t embellish or include photos. It is absolutely unnecessary to use fancy fonts, colourful lettering, or other similar decorative paraphernalia. Some may think it makes a CV stand out but in fact it is often an annoying addition. Photographs are another unnecessary addition. If you want to indicate that you are a BEE candidate, include this information in the personal details in your CV.

Number the pages. If someone is printing out a CV to pass on and the pages get mixed up or go missing, your profile could end up looking quite different to how it was intended.

Pretend you are the viewer. Before sending out your CV, look at it objectively– is this document easy to read, sufficiently detailed to communicate your level of skill, achievements and experience but not too long?

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