I was getting stale in my latest position until I found the everywoman workbook 'Writing a CV to get promoted.' It led me to completely refresh my CV, giving me the confidence to express my achievements and ultimately land that new role.
I had been at my company for just over 18 years and had moved around a lot in that time. By 2016, I’d been in a particular role and team for about three years — one of the longest times I’d spent in one place — and had got to the stage where I wanted to do something different.
I hadn’t seen a job I specifically wanted — it was more of a case of, “I’m going to start looking about to see what there is.” But I also didn’t want to be peering at the vacancies page for weeks on end waiting for the right job to come up.
So I decided to spruce up my CV, which hadn't been touched for some time, and go out to some of my network to let them know that I was looking for a change.
I was aware that we had the everywoman portal link via our company intranet and it was an area I knew I could go to research the best way to do this. So I started hunting on the site to find materials and stumbled across the How to Write a CV to get Promoted workbook.
When I look back at what my old CV looked like, it was horrendous. In the past, I had always tried to spruce up my old one by just reworking a few things — but if you take that approach, you never really take a radical look at your CV.
This time round, I was determined only to reference my old CV for the dates where I had worked at places, and my education details. I started with a blank page and the workbook, which I read from top-to-bottom, earmarking the concepts that I wanted to do something with.
On my old CV I had listed a load of responsibilities that I had had in former roles, rather than achievements. In this way I had just told people what my job descriptions were, rather than what I had done to make a difference in those roles.
Other sections that stood out included one on using active verbs, personal brand and how your CV should be a marketing tool rather than just a career history list, which was very helpful.
Even some of the basic recommendations transformed my thinking, such as not writing CV at the top of the page — just your name — adding links to LinkedIn and online profiles and tailoring a CV for the type of role you’re looking for.
The workbook also prompted me to make a list of the things I love to do from a work perspective, and understand where I’ve found those. For example, I like working with a lot of people but don’t enjoy managing people that much; likewise, I can do the ‘thinking stuff’ but prefer the delivery and problem solving in a quick, put-out-the-fire kind of way.
In this way, when I went to talk to my network about finding a new role I could be really confident about communicating what I love to do and know I am good at, instead of looking at job adverts and thinking, “Well, I could probably fit that.”
The result of my CV revamp was that I was proud to share it with people because I knew I’d done a good job and taken my time. It gave me more confidence in approaching people.
And I ended up with so much choice through my networking — I was offered six roles pretty much all suited to what I wanted to do — that I couldn’t decide.
Importantly, doing this didn’t just impact on that particular career move, it had an influence in finding the next role after it, too, as the fresh conversations with people in my network, who I hadn’t checked in with for a few years, meant I was uppermost in their mind when opportunities arose.
I think I would have ended up roughly where I am without doing the workbook but it would have taken longer — I could have been in my initial role for another 12-18 months — and I would have relied more on other people offering me things if I had not been proactive.
I would definitely recommend using the workbook and have sent it — plus my old and new CVs to illustrate it — to at least three other colleagues. Looking at it from the other side, I’ve just advertised for six roles and screened over 80 applicants in the last few days — staring at CVs one after another I know what I look for as a recruiter, and how impactful a good one can be.
When I’ve talked about this to younger colleagues, who are looking for their next step, I advise them to focus on understanding what they love to do and where they have delivered the best performance.
For me, the reflective aspect of the process of reworking my CV was one of the most important. I am a firm believer in strengths-based management and designing roles around people. I think people are happier when they are doing things they love.