There comes a point when you have to declare your CV finished, at least for now. Once you have challenged your content and completed a thorough proofread, there comes a point where you need to test it out. Constant fiddling and tweaking can make you go word blind; you can lose perspective, and you may even ruin your CV.
External feedback, good or bad, can help you to shape and improve your CV. But where should you go to seek it? Here are five sources of CV feedback to consider.
An impartial third party review can help to improve your final edit. But who should you ask to glance over your completed CV? How about asking your chosen referees? It’s good practice for them to be familiar with it anyhow, giving them a strong insight into how you are portraying yourself in your job search.
Aside from using your referee’s fresh eyes to check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes, why not ask them to sanity check the message your CV conveys? Here are some sample questions to ask.
If you are happy for your referee to edit your CV, send them a Microsoft Word file with the ‘track changes’ function enabled, so that you can easily see what they change. Otherwise, send a PDF and invite comments by email or telephone.
This kind of feedback isn’t as direct but can speak volumes about the quality of your CV. If you are sending out your CV and receiving callbacks or emails from recruiters or target companies, you must be doing something right. If you’re waiting intently to the sound of crickets or watching tumbleweed float by, it could be that you aren’t targeting the right roles, or your CV needs improvement.
Callbacks or crickets, it’s feedback you can’t afford to ignore.
If your CV is getting you invited to interview, that’s great. However, there are still insights to gleam that you can use to enhance your CV. What parts of your CV are mentioned and asked about at interview? What parts never get mentioned? The content that sparks discussion (unless it’s negative in tone) is obviously working. If certain aspects of your CV aren’t touched upon, it could be that they are self-explanatory, or it could be that they are just dull. Review them to work out the truth and change boring parts if necessary.
Your LinkedIn network can help you to test your professional positioning, CV messages, and keywords. For example, you could use your LinkedIn Headline to test out your brand statement. Set it and then assess the response. What kind of connections, messages, or feedback do you attract? Does a different headline invite a different kind of response?
Similarly, use your LinkedIn Summary to set out your professional offering and career direction. Assess the feedback you get, including direct feedback, profile views, connection requests, etc. Are the people inviting you to connect the kind you want to attract?
The Skills section is a good place to test out the keywords you are using to brand yourself. Which Skills do connections endorse you for? It’s interesting to understand what others perceive your skills to be. If your most endorsed Skills are not those you would associate with your professional brand, reorder your Skills list and even delete those that don’t further your goals.
As the creator and subject of your CV, you are best placed to know whether it represents you correctly. I’d recommend putting some distance between yourself and your document before you review it, allowing you to gain vital perspective. Leave it a couple of days or a week if you can, then carry out a critical and thorough CV review. Subscribe to Giraffe CVs’ newsletter and use your bonus, a free DIY CV checklist, to evaluate and improve your CV.
Download my book, Ace Your CV, Elevate Your Career on Kindle.
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