The power of a personal summary

The power of a personal summary

You're at a recruitment event for product people.  You join the queue to get a coffee and I'm stood in front of you.  You spot my name badge which says "Head of Talent, Product Management @ The Exciting Company" 

I've never met you before.  I know nothing about you.  I'm at the event as I need to hire a Product Manager.  You want a new job as a Product Manager.  How do you get me interested in finding out more about you in the thirty seconds before my coffee is served?

This is a physical world example, of the CV problem. 

In the CV problem your CV finds itself in front of the recruiter (as you do in the coffee queue), and the recruiter has limited time to read every part of every CV (just as I don't have time before my coffee is served).

What can you say in your CV to make the recruiter not move on to the next thing and want to spend more time finding out about you?

Your personal summary is your personal elevator pitch

If you're in an elevator, or if you're in a coffee shop queue, you've got a small window in which to get across the key points.  This means you cut the irrelevant, you discard anything that isn't key to the message, and you focus on the most important aspects.

To do this you need to consider your audience and what they want to know.  Start thinking like a product manager and put your user (i.e. the recruiter) at the centre of your product (i.e. your CV)

If they're hiring for a product manager role in an analytics company, then when they are reading a CV they will want to imagine that person working within their company in that role.

They want to know about the product skills.  They want to know about analytics experience.  They want to know that you'll add value.

A summary from a CV I read recently said:

"Making and Breaking Products. Talk scaling,revenue and startups."

Does this really help the recruiter picture the person working inside their organisation?

After some adjustment, we changed the summary to:

"Growth focused Product Manager, and former start-up founder, experienced in scaling user bases, product adoption and revenue. Manager who has grown teams 300%+ across multiple continents, with an empathetic and trusting style, focused on development and results."

Which can you picture someone saying a version of when they're in a coffee shop queue and getting someone's attention (for the right reason)?

"Hi, I'm Rob and I'm a product manager and former startup founder, who focuses on growing the number of users a product has, improving the adoption of products, and ultimately growing revenue.  I've done this in teams around the world by focusing them on results but delivering it with an empathetic style.  It would be great if you could space a minute to talk to me about roles in your organisation."

One CV does not fit all

One tendency we have is to write one CV and use it for all occasions, however, not all recruiters are looking for the same thing and we can use our personal summary to pull out some of the particular skills that will be of interest to different people.

For example, with the summary we saw above, if we were to apply to an organisation that wasn't in a particular growth stage then we might replace our start up founder and growth focus with something from our skill set that was more focused on maintaining performance, test and learn, or driving efficiencies.

If we were to apply to an organisation that wasn't global and consisted of just 10 team members, then we might lose our experience of growing teams across continents and talk more about our startup skills, our ability to get stuck in and try our hand at all aspects of the role, or a passion for creating new things.

The basics of your CV remain the same.  You've got the same education, you've had the same jobs for the same periods of time, but a few adjustments for what's important can help you become more of the picture they have in their mind of what they need.

Your exercise

Go to your CV.

Do you have a personal summary?

If no, write one.

If yes, does it bring out the key skills that will be needed in the next role that you want? If not, how can you change that?

Do you want your CV reviewing?

If you are frustrated within not getting invited to interview, then maybe your CV needs a bit of a shake up to get the right messages across. With CV Feedback, an experienced recruiter and product person will review your CV and provide you with pointers to make the improvements you need.