Six tips to writing a great digital CV

 
Writing a great CV is hard. Really hard. When we start looking for a job we expect ourselves to remember every one of our responsibilities; every single thing we have achieved, and cram it all into one or two pages, ready to be sent out.
 
The challenge is compounded by the amount of conflicting advice on what makes a good CV; career advisors, recruiters, internet columns and the rest all have a different opinion. And besides, why would you want to write a CV that is the same as all the others? Your CV should make you stand out from the crowd, not blend in.
 
The field of digital marketing is a new enough discipline that there’s not yet a convention on CV format, nor expectations from hiring managers. Many roles a candidate will apply for will involve digital change management and often a line manager will be looking to learn from the candidate. So given that; how should your CV look?
 
I can’t tell you what makes the perfect digital CV, and I can’t guarantee that the CV will land you the perfect job, but after many years recruiting digital roles, I have six tips that have worked for me:
 

1. Consider your CV as the landing page of your own personal website

 
If you think about it, a CV has a lot of parallels with a website. A website needs to be easy to navigate, well signposted, keyword dense but not over stuffed. When a website is selling a product, as your CV should, it needs to mention both features and benefits. Like a website, a well structured CV will encourage the reader to want to know more and generate a conversation.
 

2. Consider your audience

 
When designing a website you’d start with some audience analysis. Within the digital space this is particularly important because the audience for your CV will be broadly split as follows: 30% HR/generalist recruitment, 30% line managers without digital expertise, 30% line managers with strong digital understanding. Given that the larger proportion of your audience may well have limited digital knowledge you need to ensure that you are listing specific channels and quoting achievements wherever possible. For example they don’t need to know how SEO is done but will be impressed if you can show where you’ve successfully achieved improvements in SEO.
 

3. Lay out your stall

 
For a good digital CV, start with a profile. In our website parallel, this is equivalent to an ‘About Us’ page. It should be short and sweet and allow the reader to understand what the product (you) offers without reading another word. Keep it to a few lines, stay away from fluffy adjectives and stick to functional skills you can back up with experience.
 
Bad example:
X is a passionate and highly driven individual, who thrives on a challenge and has a wealth of experience in different industries.
 
Good example:
X is a B2B and B2C digital marketing professional, with experience of both client and agency side in a variety of digital channels including, social media, email marketing and SEO.
 

4. Signpost your CV

 
Once you have your profile you can move onto the skills section. This performs the same action as the breadcrumbs on a website and should signpost the topics you are going to demonstrate later in your CV. It should span as many channels as possible, as digital roles will often require an unusual combination of channel experience. Bullet points usually work best. 
 
The order you list your skills is important, just as the content highest on a webpage is most important. If your list begins with ‘Content Editor’ your audience will subconsciously suspect that it is your primary quality and list you as a content candidate, even if in reality most of your abilities are more senior strategy skills. As a rule of thumb, the more difficult/senior the skill-set, the higher up the list you should place it.
 
Six tips to writing a great digital CV
 

5. Focus on achievements

 
Before digital was less well defined, it was perfectly acceptable for a social media candidate to list the channels they had used. Now the best social media candidates not only list the channels, but also the proportional growth in followers and engagement as well as the impact it has had on website traffic and conversions and bottom line sales. Your audience may not be aware of how to grow social media presence but will be acutely aware of whether you’ve previously done it well.
 
Roles are best listed with the most recent first, with more space dedicated to recent roles. Rather than listing achievements in a separate section, include them as a subtitle within each individual role, akin to a product description on a website. After including business, dates and job title, most people will add a list of key responsibilities. It is easy to fall into the trap of talking a lot about how you did things rather than what you achieved. You achievements are far more compelling for your audience.
 
I’d recommend splitting each role into responsibilities and achievements, with bullet-points for both. Your achievements should include either numbers or the implementation of something you managed; in a perfect world, both.
 
Strong achievements could include; growth in traffic, increase in time spent on page, growth in leads, reduction in costs, increase in followers, growth in sales and average order value, reduction in bounce rate. 
 

6. Check your work

 
It may sound obvious but I can recall many instances of CVs being rejected for spelling mistakes or formatting errors. Make sure you check the content as well; for every skill you have listed you should have provided an achievement to back it up. If you don’t have one then it may be worth removing that skill rather than risk the embarrassment of being asked for an example in interview. Don’t let simple mistakes cost you a chance at a great new opportunity.
 
So there you have it. If you’ve followed along you should now have a CV with a keyword dense ‘About Us’ section, breadcrumbs signposting, quality content above the fold and tangible evidence on the benefits of your ‘product.’ Your CV should be easier to read and be more likely to attract the attention of digital recruiters and hiring managers alike. Writing a great CV is tough, but I promise it’s worth it.
 
For a confidential conversation about opportunities in the Digital sector contact Richard Cobbold, manager at Michael Page Digital.
 
T: +44 1932 264146
 
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