Why call it a CV?
The truth is that “the CV” has become a shorthand description for an individual’s work history and experience. When completed well, it signposts the many experiences of the individual, usually in equal measure, and offers a wide but thin view of what they have done. This is then explored over numerous interviews until both parties are happy that the individual can step up into their new role.
The Interim faces a different challenge and business situation.
They have to demonstrate why they are the best in the market for a particular role. They are representing a business, not acting as an individual. They need to present a narrower, deeper version of their experience in order to prove without question that they can take on and solve the client’s challenges.
They have to choose what to put in the shop window….
What should be in an Interim CV?
In an interview with a Michelin-starred chef recently, the interviewer was praising him for his simple food. His reply?
“It takes eight of us, ten hours a day, to make the food this simple”
As with Economists, speak to three people and you will end up with forty opinions on how a CV should look and what they should contain. As somebody who has read thousands of CVs in the course of my career, I have to say that I no longer worry about whether it is two or three pages or what font it is in but I do worry about the content;
1. Your business is the starting point.
Most Interim Managers come to the profession in the seond half of their careers. They have a substantive record which often doesn’t lend itself to two or three sides of A4. How do you decide what to put in the CV?
Spend time considering what your business has been set up to achieve. What do you enjoy doing and what do you excel at? It is your business now, create it around what you enjoy.
Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you have to.
The factors at play here are the type of assignment, the nature of work, sector or industry choice, function and activity choice.
Ideally you have three to five key themes that you will use to build your CV.
At this stage, if you stay completely generalist, you will never convince on your expertise in a given area. If you present as a complete specialist, then you cut out most of the interim market. The balance is different for each profession. Food R&D is by its nature far more specialist than Human Resources so the balance point is different for each business.
2. Market your expertise.
Examine your career history for the work and experience that supports your themes. Your CV then will focus on those elements which directly support why a hirer should take you on to do the things that you love and are good at.
These become mini-case studies, usually two to three lines long that have all of the information needed to for you to make your case. Make sure you put all the relevant information in one place! The average reading time of a CV is 45 seconds.
I suggest you use the formula Activity-Measurement-Payoff in each bullet point. Not every activity has a payoff but as an interim, most should have. An example of this would be;
- Led the Retail team, with full P+L accountability. Responsible for strategy and operations, including: marketing, website, customer services and store processes. 2,000 colleagues in stores and central team of 30. Increased sales by 35% to £80m and improved bottom line profit by £5m.
Don’t make your “CV” a long list of everything you did in your last job. Select those elements of what you did that build your case.
Try to anticipate where the next hot issues will be in your sector. There might be legislation that is changing the way businesses work, Technology may be completely rewriting business models in your industry. There may be buzz words and phrases that actually carry a lot of weight and will make marketing your services easier and open doors for you.
Make sure these are also captured in the CV.
The longest CV I have ever been sent was 38 pages long. The person was keen for me to understand just how much they had achieved in their career. Personally I thought they could have achieved that in a couple of paragraphs (but that’s a different story).
The shortest CV in the world is two words – Bill Gates.
For the rest of us, it inevitably lies somewhere in between and the longest you can practically use is three pages.
A final couple of thoughts;
Make them relevant and avoid self-assessment. In 15 years of reading CVs I have never seen anybody admit to “average” interpersonal skills – everybody is apparently excellent if not outstanding.
“Strategizing, planning and implementing a range of operational transformation/re-engineering programs to standardise global process for cost improvement and customer service/order experience enhancement.”
…..will leave the reader cold, even if every word is perfectly sensible and well chosen.
The secret to a good CV is similar to that of good food. Intense preparation, planning and good ingredients but above all…..