I recently noticed that a decent chunk of my client base are marketing and communications professionals. Yes, people who write snappy prose for a living are seeking my help with their CV.
Which I think proves a general point - that nearly everyone is terrible at self-promotion. Selling yourself and your achievements is a tricky thing to do. So how can you make sure you are doing it well?
Have a meeting
You need to consider yourself as a product or service, and then brainstorm how to best promote yourself. And it's best not to do this alone - so book in some time with a friend (or colleague or family member) to work on your CV. Work-shopping with others to gain different perspectives is much more effective than doing it alone. And a friend is likely to call you out when you talk down your skills and achievements.
For your meeting agenda consider:
your strengths and weaknesses
what parts you like about work (which will probably align with your strengths)
what you achieved in each job role
Refine your message
The next step is to work on your brand message.
What are you calling yourself? (This could be a job title or a series of job titles/descriptions.)
What do you do and how does what you do help the organisation?
What are your top 3 strengths or skills that you bring to the workplace?
What industry or sector are you targeting?
Bring these points together into your professional profile (or elevator pitch). Keep refining the wording. Make it succinct and snappy. Once you've nailed it, place the profile at the top of your CV. You can also re-word it and make it the summary of your LinkedIn profile.
You'll also want to refine your skills/strengths list and a decide on a couple of key achievements that highlight these. These will reinforce your key message on the front page of your CV.
Consider your channels
It's not just your CV you need to think about. Your LinkedIn profile will also be accessed by potential employers and recruiters, so make sure it's also on-brand and reflects your CV. (Noting that your LinkedIn profile can show more of your personality and be a bit chattier.)
Also think about other public channels. Are your social media profiles public and easy to find by a prospective employer? Do you have a profile on a work website that needs updating?
Evaluate your campaign
Once you have updated your CV and LinkedIn with your new, on-brand messaging, it's time to book another meeting. This time you and a friend (or friends) will evaluate its effectiveness. Consider these questions about your new CV:
Is it clear what you do?
Is it clear what your tops skills are?
Does it highlight achievements?
Is the format punchy and easy to read?
Could it sell or promote you better?
Continual refinement using feedback from others will help you to really sell yourself to future employers.