Three steps to CV Heaven

Posted in: Applications, Tips & Hints

Last time I wrote about the most common questions we are asked/advice that we give here in CV-Land at the Careers Service

Not-so-secret tips for your super CV

Today I just wanted to give you one short and snappy tip. It’s the tip that I give to almost every student coming in for CV help. It’s the tip that is written on many a post-it note, phone notes app and even, once, on the back of someone’s hand when the student left the CV appointment room.

And here it is…..

• What?

• So what?

• And what?

This is a model that I use when I have my Executive Coach hat on. It’s great for ensuring that clients build on what’s worked and avoid repeating mistakes. But I also know that the approach is just as relevant for you when you are wanting to make an impact in your CV and describing your work/volunteering experience.

Here’s how it works.

When you are constructing your “bullet point” sections to showcase your relevant experience, every bullet point needs to incorporate these three elements:

What?...... Did you do? This is the task, the job, the project, the activity that you – not “we” - actually did.

So what?...... So what was the impact/outcome/success/achievement which resulted from your action. This is where you should also be presenting the scope/size of the project and ideally any quantifiable results.

And what?.......And what is the transferable/technical skill demonstrated in that activity which you now have in your toolbox? (And potentially also what is the lesson learned).

If you wanted to use approach this in an interview situation to ring the changes with the much loved STAR model, you could also add here “Now what?”…. now what is your action plan going forward to build on the lessons learned?

Here are a couple of examples of how this structure can be used:

1. Successfully delegated key tasks to store checkout team (what) enabling us consistently to surpass weekly sales targets (so what). Used listening and coaching skills to ensure that staff were engaged with team objectives (and what).

2. Initiated, designed and delivered (what) 15 evening events for the society during 2018. Generated over £2k in income (so what) by negotiating bulk discounts for food supplies and persuading suppliers to deliver for free (and what).

Don’t feel the sentences have to follow this exact order each time – you want to avoid being too formulaic. Ring the changes and just make sure each bullet somehow addresses each of the three elements. If it doesn’t it probably means that you should replace it with an example that does!

Generally speaking employers don’t expect undergraduates or even Master’s students to have tons of relevant high level professional experience – after all that’s the whole point of placements, Spring weeks, insight days and even grad. schemes. However, they do want you to demonstrate that you have some relevant transferable skills. In using this three step model effectively you will ensure that yours are presented with clarity, impact and pride!

See also:

CV tips: Writing effective bullet points (Part 1)

CV Tips: Writing effective bullet points (Part 2)


Posted in: Applications, Tips & Hints


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