Make your CV a STAR!

Do you want more success in your search for the ideal job? Is writing a better CV part of the process?

If this sounds like you, then ask yourself this question (repeatedly):

So what?

This is such a simple yet profound question when it comes to preparing your CV.

Applying this ‘acid test’ to each line of your document will force you to think about WHY the content matters.

To be blunt, your CV content has to stand up to the blowtorch that a savvy recruiter or potential employer will apply. This is especially the case when more senior roles are involved; the stakes are higher for both employer and employee as the level of responsibility and subsequent pay packet rises.

When putting together your CV, ask yourself the following questions about your work history and then apply the ‘so what?’ test:

  • what specifically did you achieve?
  • where are the metrics to support the claims?
  • why did that piece of work matter?
  • who are those previous employers, how big are they, who owns them, why do they matter?
  • who did your report to? who reported to you? – what was the budget you controlled?

Employers and recruiters on some level are going to be thinking only about what they need, and potentially how the person behind each CV can meet that need.

As they scan your CV, they too are asking themselves “so what?”

So how can you jump that hurdle of potential apathy? How can you bring your CV to life in a way that will grab people’s attention for all the right reasons?

Personally, I like taking the STAR approach. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and yet it’s something I rarely see (and I spend half my life ploughing through CVs!).

STAR goes like this:

  • SITUATION – What was the situation the business faced e.g. sales in our division had declined 20%
  • TASK – I was tasked with fixing the situation, and this is how I approached it
  • ACTIONS – these are the things I did (explain the tactics)
  • RESULT – Be open with the results you generated

A couple of things to remember if you’re going to make your CV a STAR.

They don’t need to be long; in fact, the more contained the better.

The answers also don’t need to be perfect; articulate the challenges you faced and explain how you overcame them. I’m always suspicious when someone tells me they tackled a significant project and had no issues along the way. The ‘struggle’ adds weight and credibility to your STAR story.

Give it a go and you too might make a STAR out of your CV!

Matt Harrison
Hope & Glory