This One Change Will Instantly Make Your CV More Appealing
There are so many considerations that go into creating an effective CV: making sure that everything is formatted just right, properly tailoring your CV to the position, using the right keywords…the list goes on.
These are really CV basics, which everyone who’s serious about getting hired in the charity sector should master. But as we all know, the basics only get you so far. You need to up your game in a world where one job could have hundreds of applicants.
If you’ve been getting a muted response to your CV, it’s time to ask yourself whether you’re really putting your best foot forward. You need to ask whether your CV showcases your achievements.
The one change you can make to instantly make your CV more appealing is to review its contents and find ways to better highlight your achievements. This applies to anyone, from the novice job seeker to professional with 20+ years of experience.
Why are achievements so important for a CV?
One of the biggest mistakes people make in the work experience section of their CVs is to just list the responsibilities of past jobs.
The problem with this is two-fold. First, a hiring manager probably already knows the responsibilities of certain jobs, especially since the jobs you list on your CV should be relevant to the position you’re pursuing.
Second, listing your responsibilities offers zero indication of your competencies with certain tasks or the results you can deliver.
Here’s an example of a CV that just lists job responsibilities:
- Reach out to potential clients over the phone or email
- Maintain relationships with existing company clients and upsell relevant products
- Tracking and reporting on leads in CRM
Great, but what happened when you called clients? Did you persuade them to make a purchase? How often did you make a sale?
Providing employers with a clear sense of the results you can deliver is especially important in the charity sector, where organisations tend to have smaller teams and leaner budgets.
Recruiters for non-profits want to know how many funds you can raise, the communications reach or publicity you can secure, or the number of partnerships you can build.
Adding achievements to your work experience/volunteering
Under your Work Experience and Volunteer sections, you will likely have a series of bullet points providing detail on these experiences. Take a close look at these bullets to see if they represent your achievements.
Here are a couple of examples of clear achievement-based descriptions on CVs:
- Revamped Organisation X’s social media accounts, improving user engagement by over 60% on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Updated the copy for Organisation X’s website, increasing conversions by 20%.
- Secured two new funding agreements with Organisation Y and Organisation Z, totalling £250,000 and increasing the Organisation X’s annual operating budget by 10%.
- Launched a partnership program involving 4 implementation partners from across Europe that supports the delivery of school lunches to 150,000 children across Africa.
Keep in mind that you don’t need every single point under each of your jobs to mark an achievement. Some will be more descriptive of your responsibilities, and that’s fine.
Achievements in your CV summary
Now, here’s the icing on the cake. In your CV summary at the top of your CV, which recruiters are most likely to read first, you want to include your most impressive (but relevant) career achievement.
Doing so creates the best possible ‘hook’ for your CV, immediately drawing in your reader by telling him/her that you’re proven to deliver meaningful results.
Here’s a CV summary example to serve as inspiration:
Experienced project manager with 5+ years of work experience in the charity sector. Oversaw the on-time delivery of Organisation X’s ten-year strategy while coordinating inputs from a 20-person cross-department team.
Boom! Whoever is reading your CV immediately knows you know how to organise people around a big project and keep them on track to deliver on time.
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Doing an achievement audit
To some people, listing your achievements might not come naturally. You may feel like you’re boasting. You should never lie on your CV, but you should absolutely show off a little bit.
Conduct an ‘achievement audit’ by going through your CV summary, work experience and volunteer sections line-by-line to see if you’ve listed a responsibility that can be qualified with achievements or results.
Also, consider removing bullet points that are descriptive of responsibilities that an employer could reasonably assume you fulfilled. Replace these with ones focused on specific projects or initiatives you worked on that produced great results for your organisation.
Achievements = job application gold. And even the most experienced CV writers can find room for improvement by either adding more achievements or getting more specific about those they’ve already listed on their CVs.
Andrei Kurtuy is Co-founder & Chief Communications Officer of Novoresume. Novoresume’s mission is to fight galactic unemployment, by producing high-quality career content and helping people create resumes, CVs, and cover letters that get noticed.