Ask James Caan – Issue 78
I’d like to start by thanking everyone for all their contributions over the past few weeks. Yesterday, we welcomed the 65,000th member to the group, further consolidating it as one of the biggest UK recruitment groups on LinkedIn.
I’m starting to see many new faces join us – please feel free to take part in discussions or indeed start your own to see how we can help one another.
This week I’m tackling the issue of CV presentation and how to communicate expertise to land the interview you really want.
Take an email from Mike for example. Mike was a sales director for a start-up that helped businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.
He amassed a fantastic wealth of experience: from achieving affiliation with the Carbon Trust, securing high profile contracts, and maximising key business opportunities to managing a highly successful PR and marketing campaign.
However, he then received some bad news. His business partner – the sole shareholder – was unsuccessful in gaining further investment and the company ceased trading. As a result, since November he has been looking for a new job and has applied for 128 positions with no success. He believes his problem lies with his lack of professional qualifications and is suffering from a lack of confidence.
Mike, the unfortunate reality is – you’re not alone. Unemployment is at a record high and we’re seeing job seekers from all walks of life apply for hundreds of jobs.
As a result, you should be thinking of what you can do to distance yourself from everyone else in your situation. You have to stand out and find a way to harness those sales skills you have worked so hard to refine to sell your skill set.
When I read your email, I was impressed by your story and how you had used your time to maximise every opportunity. I was keen to review your CV and wondered what I could do to advise you where you could improve. At the back of my mind, however, I couldn’t understand how you had applied for nearly 130 jobs and not secured an interview.
Just look at the skills you’ve gained: policy writing, business development, marketing and PR, management, and leadership. On the face of it, you’re a start-up’s dream employee!
What concerns me, however, is that this passion doesn’t hit me in the first page of your CV. I have to go routing around to tease out this information – something that as a business owner, I don’t always have time for.
As a sales director you will know the importance of presentation and determination. Your first paragraph jumps straight in and tells the reader that the business didn’t work. This isn’t the best way to hook a reader in. You should be writing content that injects the same level of enthusiasm I experienced when reading your email.
Try re-working your key skills list to include your main accomplishments. Get your order book facts in there; include how you set up new contracts with high-profile clients – anything to reflect the tenacity you possess.
I’d also like to touch on professional qualifications. Personally, I don’t think you need qualifications to get back into the job market. They can do wonders for a CV, but they are not the be all, end all.
Of course it depends on the industry, but I know a great deal of sales people that have gone on to lead successful companies and the majority of these do not possess qualifications. How are they successful? They just know how to package their skills in a way that would make anyone sit up and take notice.
You have obviously worked hard to achieve what you have done so far. If you can master how to market yourself at the first stage, then the rest of the process should be plain sailing.
Best of luck,