Brand “You”: Making sure your message is consistent.
20 years ago, a true sign of a good CV was longevity and no breaks. You found an employer and you progressed through the ranks until you retired with a piece of cake and a handsome timepiece.
… Not today …
Generation Y and Z see things differently. To progress, gain experience, and become a well-rounded employee and human being moving around is not only tolerated; it is celebrated and encouraged. Life experience and grasping opportunities when they present themselves are key features of “you” and your personal brand.
When it comes to applying for a new job, you are your brand and it is imperative that you take charge of it. Your CV and online profiles such as LinkedIn are perhaps the most visible and available sources of information about you, so it is vital that all channels are speaking with the same voice. Ensure you broadcast a clear message that sells you and your skills to a prospective employer; career breaks and all. Maybe you took voluntary redundancy, or realised a lifelong dream of teaching children in Costa Rica. Or maybe you wanted to be a full-time parent for a while. Don’t leave these details off your profile or your CV. Dates matter, and unexplained gaps can raise questions. Just a few sentences about what happened during that period – giving an insight into the real person behind the black-and-white text – could be the difference between you and the next candidate.
A career gap can be used to your advantage
First things first
Your CV is the tool that should get you an interview so getting it right is key. On average a recruiter or employer will scan your CV for 6-8 seconds and will decide in that time if you are a potential candidate for the job. We’ve distilled a million-and-one tips on crafting the perfect CV into these few basic points:
1. Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for, this is very important. Pick out key words in the job description and ensure the corresponding information is on your CV and stands out. It may seem like more work in the short term, especially if you are sending out numerous CVs every day, but it could make all the difference.
2. Don’t make your CV too long or wordy. Relevance is the key. Each role will have an upper word-count threshold (delivery driver may require one page, Research Scientist a few more), but whatever you include, make sure the information is relevant.
3. Explain the gap. As with your online profiles, any discrepancies or gaps can give a bad impression. Don’t try to hide it; explain it! Was it a career break to have a family, redundancy, or time spent travelling? Ensure there are no holes.
4. Get it proof read! Mistakes with spelling and grammar are easy to make, but they really are a red flag for potential employer.
Next on the agenda
Make sure your online profile is up to date, relevant and well written. Moreover, make sure it reinforces what you say on your CV. A LinkedIn profile is an invaluable resource for employers as it is a 24/7 source of information on you. According to The Huffington Post 80% of employers will “Google” you before inviting you for interview.
If what they find online doesn’t marry with the CV on their desk, more often than not candidates won’t be invited to interview. So here are a few short actions to bring it up to speed.
1. Complete your profile. Take the time to add in all the information requested, join groups that are relevant to you and the sector you work in. Write an interesting profile with details about each of your past roles. What did you do, what did you achieve?
2.Make sure your picture looks professional. Selfies, holiday snaps, and clubbing shots are best kept to Facebook.
3. Cultivate a relevant list of contacts. You don’t need thousands (it’s not a competition!). Over 300 is ideal but it is important that these people are relevant to you.
4. Iron out any discrepancies. Make sure your dates match up and don’t allow for unexplained gaps in your career history. Even if you were doing something unrelated, make sure you include it.
Once you get to interview you can explain the 6 month break you took to follow your favourite rugby team on tour (for example). Most decent, modern employers would respect that and take an interest in your personal pursuits. However, getting to that stage and having that conversation depends on a consistent message across all your “channels”. Unexplained gaps will be noticed and remembered.
Don’t forget: you are master of your own career. If you make good use of your time, learn from each stage and ensure that every source of information on you is selling your brand well, then you can be assured you are doing all you can.
For more pointers on how to brush up your CV or to speak to one of our consultants about your next career move then call 01904 698 698 or contact our team.