If you want to land a new assignment or ensure you show up in a ‘search', recruiters and clients will need to see evidence of your previous success and credentials. So, no matter what level you operate at, a CV is critical for making that key first impression.
But what makes a good CV?
I am sure every recruiter you speak to will give you a completely different idea on how to form a strong CV. The very subject creates a challenging debate, due to the vast amount of conflicting advice in the market. Whether it be from friends, colleagues or so-called ‘professionals’… someone will always have something different to say.
So, what makes our CV advice the ‘right’ advice?
As an Executive Search and Interim Management provider, we have access to over 250,000 Executive CV's in our global CRM. Meaning we have seen everything from the great, to the not so good. Using this insight, alongside our extensive experience in recruiting Interim Managers, we know what clients look for, giving us the ability to provide proven advice.
To take some of the pain away, EO have distilled our knowledge into a template, which we think will be beneficial to interim's wanting to highlight their experience in a competitive market. We believe that a good CV should follow two key rules…
The first rule is what we call ‘The Ten Second Rule’
You have probably heard that most clients take no longer than 10 seconds to read a CV.
Especially at the C-suite level, our clients are Senior Executives, with extremely tight schedules. They will be skimming your profile, so you need to ensure your key achievements and specific deliverables are visible. This will make it easier for the client to evaluate whether you are right for an initial screening, or to be taken through to the interview process.
The second rule is ‘All About Audience’
A good CV should appeal to a broad audience as your CV might be reviewed by a researcher, recruiter or member of the HR Department before the end client has the opportunity to view it. So, ensure its clear, concise and jargon free.
We suggest following this structure:
CV Structure - Name, Contact Details and Location
As with most things, simplicity is key here, as is clarity.
It may sound obvious but make sure that your name is on your CV... you would be surprised that it doesn’t always happen. Similarly, you need to make sure you are easily contactable. So, it is important to give a current phone number, and we would recommend a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile.
The first page should stand up as a document in its own right, while the additional pages are supplementing information that builds out more detail.
If the location of a potential assignment is key to you, ensure you detail your location on your CV – algorithms used by recruitment databases may use location as a key factor to highlight suitable individuals for an initial long-list.
Avoid having a huge education section. If you have any academic qualifications, we would recommend placing the letters directly after your name, and have a separate smaller education section at the end.
Remember the 10 second rule. If the first page of your CV was to be found by a perspective client, they should be able to tell from that page alone what your interim career is all about.
Career Objective or Mission Statement
The next section is where we see many experienced executives go wrong. Often senior executives tend to have a large, cumbersome personal profile section, which takes up at least a third to half of the first page.
Try to avoid the generic statements ‘I am a dynamic leader, proven executive, seasoned professional...’ This gets a bit tiresome when you are reading a number of identical CV's.
In our experience, clients, recruiters and decision-makers tend to avoid reading them if they aren't eye catching. Therefore, we suggest a statement/mission focus.
Our next recommendation is that you display six to eight key deliverables. These should be achievements you would want a prospective client to see first. Your CV needs impact and you really want to be hitting people early on with what you've done and achieved. Clients need to be able to easily see the ROI of engaging you on assignment – this is a good point to start getting 'in' the heavy hitting tangibles.
Coming back to the point about appealing to a broad audience, the next section should include six to eight technical and behavioural competencies. By listing your key competencies in this way, you are making it very easy for them to select you as a preferential candidate. The types of things here would be stakeholder management, influencing, leadership, adaptability, and more technical things if you're in a more technical field.
Interim Assignments / Summary
Once we've got to the bottom third of the first page, we suggest that you create a grid titled Interim History or Interim Journey (or something along those lines) with three simple sections:
Company | Assignment | Dates
This provides a clear snapshot of your interim journey, the clients you have supported and any repeat business (which is seen as a good sign). Demonstrating typical duration's of assignments is always helpful and shows you are doing something right, also I would want to know when you have delivered a similar project.
The Rest Of Your CV…
Beyond the first page we suggest you have three sections:
- Full Career History
This is where you can enter more details about the assignments have held and your key deliverables. I would typically use this section to explore previous projects that are relevant to the assignment that I am sourcing for. Although you don’t need to provide substantial information about your permanent career (if you are an established interim) it is still valuable to have context of the key roles as this helps to show what brought you to this point and key achievements which may be relevant.
It is good practice to include a full list of qualifications, certifications and membership of any societies. Add in any project or programme management qualifications, as these may be valuable if you are looking to work on large change/ transformation programmes.
This section is not always necessary, but it is good to include some short personal information about yourself on your CV, as often this is what brings a bit of personality to what can otherwise be quite a bland document. However, there is no point putting that you are a gym fanatic if you never go, as quite clearly this will come out down the line if you obtain the assignment!
Hopefully, the Interim CV template I have set out makes sense?
When a potential client or hiring lead is looking at this, they will get a good feel for your mission, deliverables and successes. You've got all the competencies they are looking for, and your document is optimised to give you the best chance of being found through hiring search algorithms. As a recruiter, we would have a good understanding of your interim journey in just one page.
Download Your Own Senior Executive CV Template
If you would like to lay out your CV in the same structure and style as we have described in this article, then you may wish to review our senior executive CV template below. Once you've completed it, don't forget to submit it to our executive database using this link.