New Year, New Job?
Making an Impact with your CV
Creating Your CV
Firstly you need to think about what you want to achieve from your CV. In today’s economic climate it is how you sell yourself and differentiate yourself from others that counts. Your CV is your advertising brochure, it should make an immediate impact, create interest and encourage the reader to find out more about you and ultimately, it should create interviews for you.
As your CV can create opportunities for you, it is well worth investing the necessary time to get it right. You need to ensure your CV sells you in the most effective way and that you have made it easy for the reader to find the relevant information.
You should ensure you understand the role you are applying for and make certain the content of your CV reflects the necessary skills and experience sought in a positive and concise way.
Whilst constructing your CV, you need to give thought to the type of role and practice you will be applying for (general practice; mixed or specific species, internships & specialist work, locum, charity practice, industry or government departments etc) as this will determine the information and the emphasis of the information that will be contained within your CV. You need to ensure you emphasise your most relevant skills, for example, there is no point highlighting skills and experience you gained in equine work, if you only wish to apply for and work with purely small animals. It is appropriate to mention this experience, but as your small animal experience is far more relevant, it should be this that you emphasise, and it should appear first on your CV followed by your other experience in order of relevance.
Remember CV’s are not read in detail, they are initially scanned for relevant information, and only when it catches the attention of the reader, will they then be encouraged to read your full CV. The reader needs to quickly find relevant information they can relate to and that matches their needs in order to encourage them to make a subconscious decision to read on or want to find out more about you (invite you to interview). It is therefore important that you don’t just regurgitate job descriptions, nor duties and responsibilities, and instead communicate achievements and benefits, along with what you have to offer. If you make it too difficult for the employer to find the relevant information, they could simply dismiss you. This is where layout and content become very important
First Impressions Count.. CV Presentation
As your key marketing tool, both the presentation and content of your CV is very important. You have literally seconds to create a positive and professional impression. Layout needs to be clear and the communication concise to enable whoever is screening your CV to extract relevant information very quickly.
Remember... presentation is everything!
...make sure you sell yourself to your target audience!
Your CV should contain only relevant information. It should be concise; containing enough information to generate interest and encourage and motivate the practice to find out more about you.
Ensure your CV is weighted in favour of your most recent and relevant experience and reflects what the practice is looking for.
Customising your CV
Your CV should be adapted and customised when applying to specific roles or different practice types, in order to highlight your most relevant experience and key achievements to the particular role in question.
It is important not to assume employers will know the amount of experience you have – you need to tell them!
Graduates vary significantly in the amount of practical experience they have gained and therefore it is important for you to emphasise and highlight this, to differentiate yourself. Detail the practical skills you gained: working voluntarily, seeing practice, EMS, holiday / weekend experience, locum work, etc. If you don’t document your experience employers will assume you are “an average graduate” with little or no real practical experience.
Developing Your CV
Your CV is representing and promoting you and therefore you need to have a clear idea of:-
Key Selling Messages...
You need to demonstrate your key skills (marketable & transferable). Think about your career so far (you may find it easier to break it down into different chunks, i.e 1st year at University, 2nd year and so on, or your individual practice placements, electives, EMS, voluntary work, etc). Think about each in turn and identify the experience gained and in turn the achievements you had within each one, and then think about the benefits those achievements delivered. These achievements and benefits are classed as your “key selling messages”.
Where possible quantify your achievements in terms of contributions to the practice, the team, the pet owner or the patient.
Key selling messages tell potential employers what you can do for them, hence giving them an incentive to buy you.
They also create a greater impact.
... a graduate, applying to an advert for a small animal vet where, the practice requires someone with good routine surgical skills:
Candidate 1 : "Graduate Veterinary Surgeon with strong interest in small animals, who has gained practical experience through small animal elective".
Candidate 2 : Graduate Veterinary Surgeon, competent with routine surgeries, able to contribute quickly, having performed over 60 routine surgical procedures (Spays, Neuters and lump removals).
Based simply on the above information candidate 2 looks far more proactive and therefore the better hire. Candidate 2 made an immediate impact and the employer can quickly see the benefits of hiring them. Consider also that Candidate 1 & 2 could equally be the same person, highlighting even more so, the importance of customising your CV and ensuring you market yourself effectively.
Think about producing a list of “key selling messages” for the roles/placements that you have held, these can be inserted and removed and even re arranged within your CV, in order of relevance and importance to the role you are applying for. This way you do not have to rewrite your CV from scratch each time you apply for a new role. Think of your electronic CV as an electronic filing cabinet storing a selection of key achievements and key selling messages that you can quickly utilise, to customise your CV.
It is worth spending time to produce your “Key selling Messages” as not only will you use them in your CV, you can also use then at interview to demonstrate your key skills and experience, as well as in covering letters to sell yourself more effectively.
Composing Your CV
When composing your CV you may find it easier to start with a job title, listing the duties and responsibilities for that role. Next identify the skills required to carry out those duties and responsibilities. Finally you need to identify your achievements that will demonstrate those required skills. It is these achievements (key selling messages) that will appear on your CV and not duties and responsibilities. This will sell you more effectively.
The secret is to sell yourself in the most effective manner; take time to think carefully about the key skills that would be required for the role you are applying for, or the practice you are speculatively applying to. Remember there are different types of skills sought by employers i.e. the skills sought for a small animal surgical vet, will differ from those required of a consulting small animal vet, providing mainly first opinion care. If your CV demonstrates your surgical achievements, and you apply for a first opinion role, you are sending out unnecessary negative signals (will you be motivated and challenged delivering first opinion treatment, or is this just a job to you and not your ideal role and therefore how long are you likely to stay in the role?) which, could result in the practice not relating to, nor buying into your experience straight away.
You are therefore not selling yourself in the most effective way nor are you making the greatest impact... first impressions count!
Remember you will be up against other competition and if they sell themselves and sell the right skills by speaking the right language, they will appear more relevant and are more likely to be invited to interview.
Reviewing your CV
On completion of your first draft, review your CV. Be critical... look through the eyes of a potential employer!
On completing your CV ask a trusted friend to review it for spelling, grammar and also to gain their thoughts on how it looks and reads.
Now you have a completed CV and are ready to enthusiastically market yourself, don’t forget to keep a record of the applications you make: who you sent your CV to, the position you applied for, the date of your application, and the responses received back. This will prevent you duplicating applications and enable you to be better informed when following up applications and indeed for subsequent interviews.
Profile : This is your advertising banner – use it to promote yourself by communicating what you can offer to your target audience (practice types). Your profile should gain attention and generate interest. It can be used to customise applications to highlight particularly relevant skills and expertise when applying for specific roles or to practice types.
Key Skills Summary
Current (or most recent) practice/placements and dates
Provide a brief overview of the Practice: i.e) Busy, Modern, Tier Status, Referral, Practice Type etc
Current job title and dates
Provide a brief overview of your role objective (no more than two lines). Provide a summary of your key responsibilities and achievements whilst there. Ensure that they are aligned to your key skills summary.
Name previous practices/placements and dates
Provide a brief overview of the practice(s). Provide a brief overview of your role objective (no more than two lines)
Here highlight any relevant experience you gained seeing practice, working on a voluntary basis prior to attending University. Use this section to briefly promote your additional experience. (Working at stables prior to becoming an equine vet is not only relevant and adds more depth to your experience but also demonstrates commitment to your chosen field).
Education and qualifications
Place your highest level of qualification first (if you have a professional qualification or hold professional status provide highest level first)
Training and development
Training/CPD should be included before education if it is more relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are applying to an Exotics practice and have completed CPD in this area this is more relevant as an assumption will be made that you will hold a Veterinary Degree. Provide relevant course details and dates completed.
Date of Birth:
This article was provided by Recruit 4U - Veterinary recruitment specialists and providers of VetGrad.co.uk's FREE CV reading service:
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