We get many requests for assistance with CV preparation and this short article will help answer your questions.

Firstly, the importance of an impactful CV should not be underestimated. There are various very short time frames cited for how long anyone recruiting to a position looks at a CV and some of them are as frighteningly low as 6 seconds.

For the types of roles that you might be applying for, and we are recruiting to, let’s hope that the time spent looking at your CV by us and by the CEO or Board Chair is longer than this!  But the message is the same whatever the level of the role – make your CV impactful, relevant, as concise as needs be, full of facts and honest.

How do you do this? Well lucky for you we have looked at many, many CV’s and here are some tips from the best ones.

1. Have a great cover page

Make your name big and bold enough to notice easily, have all contact details close to your name and make it easy to get a snapshot of you on the first page. You can achieve the following on a good first page:

  • Name and contact details
  • Professional profile
    • Short and sharp. Write in the first person and include key strengths and capabilities.
  • Qualifications
    • Important in the health industry is to include your professional undergraduate qualifications and all post-graduate qualifications attained. In the case of a PhD include the subject of your dissertation. Leave the details of any training and development for within the body of the CV.
  • Career summary
    • On the front page include the title of the position, the organisation and the dates of employment, in reverse chronological order. Leave the details of each role and achievements within these roles for within the CV.

2. Be Relevant

We work in the health industry so make your CV industry specific. Use language, concepts and describe models of service delivery relevant to Health. People looking at your c.v know what ABF is, they know what the KPI’s are that are important to meeting performance targets, so don’t be afraid to use the language of the system.

Also be aware if you list referees (and you will be asked for them at some point) that you do include your most recent line manager. The Panel will want to hear from them and if you do not wish to use them for whatever reason you should be ready to explain why not. At the least you should include a very recent direct line manager in your referee mix.

3. Be Concise

How long is too long? More than 5 pages is probably too long. With a good cover page this should be achievable. There are some exceptions to this rule and they are for clinicians, academics and researchers who may legitimately want to list publications, conference presentations and grants received. List all positions held in reverse chronological order and provide details on responsibilities and achievements for around the last three. Past that it is sufficient to list the position title, organisation and dates held.

What are the other things that might be useful to list? These are not always applicable but in many cases do contribute to a complete picture of you as a person and a potential candidate for a role:

  • Training and development
  • Community participation
  • Board and Committee representation
  • Awards and Achievements
  • Professional contributions

4. Provide Facts

People looking at your CV want to know details about size and scope of the organisations that you have led or worked in (FTE, Budget size, number of health services and bed numbers) also the size and scope of budgets and FTE in roles you have held direct responsibility for, any savings initiatives that you have delivered on in dollar terms or complex projects you have led and delivered on. Don’t make them look for it or need to wait to ask you because these facts could be the difference between making the shortlist or not, purely because of uncertainty about the facts.

5. Be Honest

The saying goes ‘honesty is the best policy’ and this stands true for CV’s. Don’t leave gaps in your employment history – the Panel will pick this and want to know why. If you have a large number of short term contracts explain the reason why.

“Honesty is the best policy”

If you were working for a consultancy firm or for yourself as a self-employed contractor, explain this. It looks better than 5 years with 10 positions within this time. Don’t exaggerate or embellish your status or achievements but at the same time don’t undersell your achievements. These are things easily verified through referees and will be once you get to the pointy end of a recruitment process.

Perhaps it is time to review your CV against the above 5 tips. It shouldn’t take long and could held you stand out against the crowd applying for that position which is really the next step in your career. Finally, you are not alone and there are some fabulous (free and for a fee) on-line templates available to help you in your CV overhaul. I hope this has been helpful for the next time you need to write, or overhaul your CV.