How to let your personality shine through in your CV
We want all of our candidates to excel both on paper and in person, so in this article we will be talking about something equally as important as your skills and experience when it comes to the screening process. Yes, your personality – nowadays companies are concentrating much more attention on the extent to which they feel a candidate will fit into their culture. So if you’ve applied for a role and you know that your values match those of the company, we’re here to give you our top tips to make sure you show them this by helping you get your personality across both on paper and in interview.
Let’s start with the CV:
Don’t be a buzzword copycat
Like your career history, your personality is unique. Nobody has the same behavioural make-up as you, and yet so many CVs read just like job descriptions and give very little away when it comes to the person behind the piece of paper. Employers want to visualise you becoming part of their teams and will need to see the real person behind the skills and experience to do that.
We recommend that, although you must demonstrate you have the key competencies and skills an employer is looking for, try to write like a real person who has learned lessons and developed experience from them. Giving a brief story-like scenario for each example of your work experience is a wise idea.
Here’s the dilemma. You want your CV to stand out and yet at the same time, you – like many – are afraid of saying anything that might, well…stand you out? The trick is not to be outrageous, but rather, refreshing. Put yourselves in the shoes of your employer and try to include something that may spark an interesting conversation with them in an interview. Some examples may include a project you’ve worked on that is unique to you, or a learning experience you’ve had travelling on business with your company.
Use the professional profile at the beginning of your CV.
This is the best section to immediately give employers a flavour for you as a person. Your experience will come across in later sections, use the profile to explain who you are and what you’re doing at the moment and then add in a bit about something you’ve recently read or a lecture you’ve watched that inspired you to do X, Y or Z. This will be a refreshing conversation starter and leave employers more inclined to get you in for an interview.
Find words that best describe your personal attributes
Don’t use the typical ‘good communicator’, ‘passionate’, ‘ambitious’ adjectives to describe yourself unless you really don’t have anything else to use. Interviewers see this every day – if you really want to stand out, better alternatives would be ‘excellent at turning a negative situation into a positive.’ You see? Conversation starter! Your interviewer will obviously then be inclined to ask you for an example of this, and in turn, will see that you are passionate enough about what you do that you will work hard to keep teams and colleagues thinking positively in challenging situations. Much more interesting!
Marketers like myself might say; “define your personal brand!” This isn’t merely conjuring up unsupportable statements, it means defining what makes you good at your job. Write these out as a rough list, using plain English, and add on an example of this in the workplace – and voila!
It can be difficult to write about yourself, the trick is to not guess about yourself – instead, ask people who you trust to give you a true answer on what you are really like. This isn’t asking your friends, ask people in the workplace who have experience with you as a professional. Ask them to exemplify their answers and this gives you some easy to use content to tailor your CV around your personal brand. What might be refreshing to include in a ‘stand-out CV’ could be a section titled ‘How people find working with me.’ You don’t see this a lot and this is a great way to give employers raw, first-hand peer knowledge of your work etiquette.
Take home thoughts:
- Avoid clichés. Anyone can say they have great ‘communication’ or ‘organisational’ skills on paper. This looks like wallpaper to recruiters. Don’t be wallpaper – be a feature wall, or a water fountain! Stand out and use evidence to back it up!
- Be bold in expressing your personal qualities. Give employers something original to work with.
- Use the profile uniquely. A great space to kick-off your CV with a refreshing insight into your recent interest, current enjoyment of your role, and what you like about the company you’re applying for.
- Utilise the people around you. Get trusted feedback from your colleagues to help you create original content that will spark conversation and can be well-evidenced.