How to Build a Winning CV that Positions your Personal Brand Powerfully

| Saturday, March 27, 2010

Build a 
Winning CV that Positions your Personal Brand Powerfully
Build a Winning CV that Positions your Personal Brand Powerfully

The words "Curriculum Vitae" translated literally mean "the story of your life." Your CV is a very important document: With it rest your hopes and dreams for the future, that next step up the career ladder, a better position, more money, new challenges, etc. Therefore, if you do not want to miss out on that 'dream opportunity,' your CV has to represent the best you can offer. Writing a CV that has the potential to be short-listed and/or make a positive impact is a skill and requires expertise. Many brilliant professionals and top brains haven't been able to make it to the top or get the desired results in their careers only because they couldn't position their talents, skills, knowledge and experience positively.

  1. Step 1
    Please spend quality time to research the organizations and the roles you are applying for.

    This is the most basic (yet most critical) step and surprisingly, the most ignored aspect of career management. The company web site and other public domain information do offer some important cues. They will help you understand some key themes that should show up in your CV.
  2. Step 2
    Build multiple versions of your CV suited to the relevant industry, organization, role, etc.

    It makes an immediate impact. A good CV should never be one-dimensional and you should never take a "single version fits all" approach.
  3. Step 3
    Ensure that you highlight the 'right' things and manage around the gaps/non-strengths.

    The first page of your CV should capture your profile highlights (educational, experiential and personality strengths) and major professional accomplishments (tailored to intersect well with the role/organization requirements). This is not a manipulative process but a subtle attempt to position your best self, authentically, while not concealing any important facts. Trust me, the interviewer will be better off knowing what you can do, rather than what all you can't do. A key learning from the study of behavioral economics is that brand recall is not just a factor of the best features, price, etc., but the ability to build an emotional connection with the consumer. In this context, your personal brand needs to make that connection with the prospective recruiter
  4. Step 4
    Examine the job ad carefully.

    It usually contains some vital information regarding the role deliverables and the expected skill, knowledge and experience profile. Also, most ads will describe certain personality attributes that the organization feels will help the person succeed in the job environment. There is an entire school of thought which discounts the value of this information provided, especially regarding the personality attributes, and most CVs ignore this. This is an opportunity lost.
  5. Step 5
    Leverage this opportunity and differentiate yourself by weaving these themes/attributes into the way you are describing yourself and your experience, skills, etc. It is the least emphasized aspect and needs some skills and effort, but can pay huge dividends in creating strong brand equity.
  6. Step 6
    Explain your strengths smartly and clearly.

    A positive psychology-based approach offers you better chances of success. Understanding your differentiating strengths and being able to clearly articulate the same requires effort and skill, and this is very often the last mile that most people are not able to run, much to their detriment. Let's not forget what Peter Drucker once said, "Most people feel that they know what their strengths are, and they are mostly wrong." This is an aspect of self-awareness and introspection that matters a lot. You need to be able to master this piece, and soon. The best way to do this is to put down your thoughts around your key successes and the inherent strengths that enabled those successes.
  7. Step 7
    Write down your successes and strengths as an independent, introspective exercise and give it quality time.

    You can then add this just after the profile highlights. This usually is a tough process and my review of over 5000 CVs clearly tells me that most people do a pretty shoddy job of this. Finally, be conscious and intelligent about what you want to position and how you want to position it. Don't over-position, don't under-position--you need to "just-right-position."

    The best way to do this is to weave your key skills, knowledge, experience and personality strengths while explaining your major achievements/successes. This strategy is a lot more powerful that just churning out reams of paper explaining all the great work that you have done and then somewhere in a remote, nondescript section of your CV, trying to explain your strengths, etc. Most CVs lack connectivity and alignment of perspectives. That's what a great CV brings to attention, instantaneously

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