The most obvious reason you might need a CV is when you are looking for a job. However, there are many other reasons you might want to put together a CV now, even if you are not seeking new employment just now.
Your work situation can change in a heartbeat. For instance, the company could be acquired, or sold, or go into administration. A great supervisor could leave for a new role, and he wants you to come with him. Alternatively, maybe his replacement wants to bring in new people.
Even if you do not need a CV to apply for a position online, it is useful to have a well-organised, neatly formatted document to hand to the hiring manager at the beginning of an interview. The CV can also serve as “talking points” to guide the content of an interview. The time invested in compiling information on your credentials, skills, and accomplishments can also help prepare you for the job interview itself.
Your current employer may even request a CV from you. It could be to include in a proposal the company is preparing for a new contract. It is not uncommon for key personnel bios to be included in a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) or applications for grants.
If you intend to apply for an internal promotion or transfer, you may not think a CV would be required, but often, it is. An internal recruiter or a hiring manager in a different part of a big company will not be familiar with all the aspects of what you do. Even if they have access to the job description for your position, that won’t tell them about the specific contributions you have made in your current role. It is your job to quantify and document your achievements — and a CV is a good way to do that, even for an internal position.
A good time to create or update your CV is when you are preparing for an annual appraisal or performance review. Documenting your accomplishments can help you prepare to show your manager how you’ve added value to your position — and department — since your last review. The CV development process is also a good time for self-assessment. A well-written CV tells the “story” of your career and demonstrates consistent themes and supports information that highlights your qualifications for the target job while omitting irrelevant information and positions.
Outside of an employment context, you may also be asked for a CV if you are going to be a speaker for an organisation or an event, so they can use the CV to create your bio and speaker’s introduction.
Individuals being considered for a political appointment, such as a state government committee or board will be asked for their CV. The same is true for individuals being considered for key volunteer roles. If you are asked to be on a non-profit organisation’s board of directors.
You may also be asked for a CV when you are considered for an award or given an award that recognises your work or volunteer efforts.
CVs are also tools for networking. Someone you just met who is interested in learning more about you may ask for your CV. This contact may help lead you to unadvertised job openings. In the same way, getting your CV in the hands of someone who knows you well can also lead to new opportunities. They can use the CV to pass along to other people who might be in a position to hire you, or to use as a “door opener” to introduce you to other people who might be useful in your job search.
The CV is a tool to market your skills and experience. If you work in a service-oriented position, your skills, education, and expertise are a critical part of what makes you credible to potential clients. Having a CV or a bio-based on your CV that communicates why you are a good choice to provide the service can help fill your appointment book, especially for therapists, clinicians, coaches, and teachers. A document that showcases your credentials can be an important part of your company or practice’s marketing materials.
CVs are important at any age. A CV can be an excellent resource for secondary school students applying for scholarships and to include with college or university applications. It can be updated throughout the college years and be used to apply for internships and part-time jobs. Once you graduate, you will need a CV to apply for your first job.
It’s also important to note that a LinkedIn profile is not a substitute for a CV. Because a LinkedIn profile is public (even if you have your privacy settings locked down on LinkedIn, someone can still take a screenshot of your profile or create a PDF of it), there may be information you do not want to include on your LinkedIn profile that can help demonstrate your accomplishments to a prospective employer. In addition, a CV can be customised to target a particular position while LinkedIn only allow you to have one profile.
A well-written CV can help you populate your LinkedIn profile, making it easy to complete the “Work Experience” and “Education” sections.
Why Update Your CV Now
One of the most common reasons to update your CV when you are not actively looking for a job is because you do not have a good feeling about your current situation. Is there much turnover in your current job or the company? Have there been rumours of layoffs, or did the company just lose a big contract? Both can signal a need for a CV update.
What if your department or your company is doing well? In that case, you may be contacted by competitors — or recruiters working for competitive companies — looking to hire you away from your current job.
Putting together your CV can also help you determine where you want to go next in your career. Sometimes, looking at your work history can help you identify a pattern in your employment history that will help you determine where you want to go next in your career. An effective CV communicates both your current skills and qualifications and your future potential. Identifying a common thread in your experience and accomplishments can help you decide the next step in your career.
The same exercise can also help you identify where you may need to enhance your current skills or education. If you are putting together your CV and you realise your last certification or in-depth training was more than 10 years ago, it may prompt you to look at how you can bring your skills up to date in a key area.
A CV can also help you if you are considering a career change. Your CV can highlight transferable skills targeted towards a new career goal. The new document can also help you identify any deficiencies you may need to work on strengthening as you pursue a different type of job or career path.
Having your CV prepared by a professional CV writer can also provide you with a sense of how you are seen by others. A third-party validation of your accomplishments put together in an attractive, easy-to-read, modern format can give you confidence. It can also provide reassurance you have marketable skills and that you would land on your feet should your current position be eliminated.
Why Keep Your CV Updated
The main reason to create and maintain an updated CV is that it takes time to put a good CV together whether you are writing it yourself or having a professional prepare it for you. A CV is not just an “obituary” of your work history — it is not a summary of everything you’ve done and a strategic marketing document that showcases your value to a prospective employer.
It is easier to maintain a CV than to scramble to put one together, especially when a new opportunity arises and you need to give someone your CV on short notice. Even if you do not keep your CV completely updated, keep track of your accomplishments. Use a work journal to track your accomplishments (including a file folder to keep copies of emails or letters of appreciation from customers, co-workers, or your boss). You can also maintain an electronic record: forward “kudos” emails to your personal email address (change the subject line to make it easy to find these later) and email yourself notes about project specifics, such as scope-and-scale information like percentages, numbers, and dollar figures.
As often as necessary, you should you update your accomplishments. This might be weekly updates if you are working on a series of projects or it might be a quarterly assessment. Whether daily, weekly, or monthly, do it regularly and remind yourself via an alarm or task reminder on your calendar. This will make it much easier to update your CV later.
Coming up with accomplishments will also help you prepare for a job interview. Any time you are asked to “describe a time when you…” or “give me an example of when you…” that is an opportunity to share a story in CAR format: Challenge-Action-Result.
First, describe the Challenge — or situation — that you faced. Next, identify and articulate the specific Actions you took to resolve the situation. Finally, outline the Results your actions brought about. Accurately quantify them in terms of measurable numbers, percentages, or pounds/euros, when possible. Include CAR statements on your CV and prepare to discuss them in an interview. This is a valuable exercise.
Even if you keep your CV updated, you may still need to re-target it for different opportunities that may arise, but it is easier to re-work an existing CV than to start from scratch. You may decide to keep a “master” CV document that contains all of your credentials (including a full list of your continuing education classes and workshops) and then edit the list to meet the needs of a particular position.
If you don’t have a CV, it’s time to get one. If you have one that has not been updated in a while, now is the time to bring it up to date. You never know when you might need your CV, so you want it ready when you do.