Self-promotion and marketing your career
A punchy CV and tailored covering letter are essential if you want to make employers sit up and take notice, as Thomas Chalmers explains.
How do I go about marketing myself to potential employers?
Having a CV is a basic requirement when applying for a job, but it’s just the start of the process. While a good CV is important, what you do with it and how you market yourself are arguably more important.
The exact structure of your CV will depend on your experience and the nature of the role you are applying for.
You will find many CV template examples online, but some common features include the following:
- Put your work experience first, followed by academic qualifications, all in reverse chronological order, then list a few of your interests.
- State your role(s), what you were responsible for and, where appropriate, the experience you gained.
- Tailor your CV by highlighting skills and experiences relevant to the role in question.
- Try to keep it to two pages in length, or three at most. Recruiters and those interviewing for a position are busy people, so keep it short and punchy.
- Add in prearranged references or indicate that they are available on request.
- Avoid adding pictures, fancy fonts and superfluous details.
- Be honest.
- Note the importance of tailoring your CV to the role and organisation. Small tweaks that demonstrate the alignment of your skills, experience and personal qualities with that of the role and organisation can create a significant positive impression.
Your covering letter/email is vital. Spend time tailoring the covering letter so that you:
- Illustrate an understanding of the organisation and how you are aligned with its values, reputation, culture etc.
- Come across as being keen and enthusiastic.
- Demonstrate how your skills and experiences are well suited to the role you are applying for.
You can send your CV (with a suitable covering letter) on a reactive basis to those firms that are advertising a role you are interested in. However, it is better to adopt a more proactive mindset when you develop a plan to target those organisations/people you would like to work with.
Don’t make it such a narrow list that it limits your choice. However, if it’s too broad, you could lose focus and spread yourself too thin.
Use your network to gain insight and potential contact with your target organisations. Keep in mind that many roles are not advertised, so even if an organisation isn’t recruiting now, they may well be in the future.
Remember, too, that recruiters use social and business media such as LinkedIn, so make sure your LinkedIn page is up to date and that your profile reflects the skills and experiences that are relevant to the role you are seeking.
Thomas Chalmers is an Executive Coach and Partner of Leading Figures, a coaching consulting firm focusing on the finance and professional services sectors and one of the coaches delivering our ICAS Leadership Coaching Programmes.
ICAS has produced a range of free Career Help Guides to give our Students and Members support and advice at different stages of their careers. They are designed to help to navigate different topics and to support with career development.
We currently have six help sheets available, covering a variety of topics such as CV/Cover Letter Writing and Building an Online Network.
Through our training partner BPP, we also have a range of upcoming CPD courses to help support your skills development and to help you to build your personal brand, such as our How to create and develop your personal professional brand, Practical Networking and Marketing for Accountants courses.