Advice for young Marketers looking to update and improve their CV

On Thursday 12 April  a live written debate took place on the Guardian Careers website discussing how to ‘hit the ground running’ after graduation; Job seeking before you graduate: live Q&A.

I saw this as an opportunity to speak with recruitment specilists from well known companies such as John Lewis, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CareerWorx and O2; about updating and improving my CV as I look to go into my final year of university. I have decided to submit this blog post as a reference for those who are in a similar position to me and might appreciate the advice.

As you may or may not remember, I am currently a third year marketing student, working for an international events company as a Marketing Coordinator as part of a 12 month industry placement scheme. I’m sure there are plently more sandwich course students currently in my position looking for advice on how to move forward from a years worth of work experience. Personally, I am looking for advice on how to update my CV with new skills and whether it’s neccessary to change the overall focus of my CV from how it was before.

I put forward the following question to the panel of experts;

I am currently on a 12 month Marketing Placement and I was wonder whether you could provide me with some tips for updating my CV after my placement? My CV currently focuses on skills learnt in the first 2 years of my degree, should I minimise this and focus mainly on the new experiences and skills I have gained whilst on placement? I am looking to find 1-2 week work experience to fill August / Sept before going back to uni for my final year – how should I focus my CV when applying for stuff like this?

Education Verses Experience

I received my first piece of advice from Dr Bill Nichols, a marketing and public relations specialist who joined the faculty at Bucks New University as a senior lecturer in marketing in 2009. He also recently developed and co-founded, as deputy director, the university’s new Centre for Health Communications Research (CHCR).

The 12-month placement should help you a lot. You should probably start thinking about your CV as a flexible tool. There is no standard job in marketing and each will call for a different mix of specific skills as well as the general foundations. So be prepared to tailor your CV a little to suit each different job. If you think about the segmentation-targeting-positioning process you will have learnt in marketing, now apply it to yourself and your opportunities – Good luck!

STP – Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning

Helen Stringer, careers services manager, at the University of Warwick’s Student Careers & Skills spoke second and provided the following advice;

CV writing is more art, than science and is quite a subjective business. That said, I would encourage you to keep to a fairly conventional style, with places your education first but then focusses on your recent work experience. Use this section to draw out the relevant skills and competencies you have gained & developed. It can also help to include some tangible outcomes/achievements as these will help your CV stand out e.g. did you manage a project during your work placement. Recruiters like to see specifics, so avoid sounding too vague & woolly. Keep the language tight & professional – Some recruiters like a personal profile but I would tend to avoid including one unless you are really confident, that is provides a USP. 

A Unique Selling Point Helps You Stand Out From The Crowd

Lisa LaRue, career development practitioner also contributed with the following response. With more than 12 years experience helping people plan and manage their careers Lisa’s career consultancy, CareerWorx, operates in the Surrey and London areas as well as providing web-based career counselling and coaching to clients around the world.

That’s fantastic you have a twelve month marketing placement under your belt well done! I would absolutely make sure this information is on the front page of your CV along with your key skills/competencies. Depending on how extensive your current list of skills is you may find you need to condense this down.

Your CV will evolve throughout your career and should be updated constantly as you gain new skills, work on new projects, obtain new qualifications etc. Things that seemed good to have in your CV during the early years of your career might become irrelevant/obsolete as you progress and gain superior skills, experience and qualifications.

As for how to focus your CV when applying for work experience placements, I would state your desire to obtain work experience in your opening statement on your CV. This can be easily updated/changed as required depending on the purpose of your CV at any given time. I usually advise clients to have multiple versions of their CV for different purposes so they can be tailored to suit – Best of luck Emma!

Finally Kath Houston, careers adviser, career coach, published career management author and senior fellow of employability and enterprise at the University of Central Lancashire agreed with Helen Stringer’s comment and added;

Hi Emma – I agree with Helen but would also suggest that you create a resume CV – that is a one page CV – just for the purpose of securing a short work experience placement in August/Sept. This takes some doing but if you just put brief details of your course, more about your 12 month placement and a Skills section that highlights your skills especially those extended most recently through your placement, this will be easy for a recruiter to know the essence of what you can offer. This concise CV if well formatted will be perfect for gaining short term work.

Why Would You Send A One Page Resume?

As a blogger, I was also interested in finding out whether mentioning my blog would be advisable in my CV. I asked the experts whether it would be a good idea to include and talk about my personal blog? Or should this sort of info be saved for interview processes when your asked more questions about how you spend your personal time? My blog is marketing focused but also touches on events and days out which I just write about for fun. I try and apply social media marketing tactics to promote it so I guess it reflects my interest in Marketing futher. Helen Stringer and Bill Nichols provide me with some aposing but very useful advice…

Helen sharing her recommendation;

This is a personal view but I’d probably refrain from linking to your blog if the content blurs the professional & personal. Your CV is a marketing document and space is limited, so it’s crucial that every word, link, phrase adds value. I suppose you could include it in an ‘interests’ section but ask yourself first: what impression will this convey? – Others may disagree!

And Bill followed with his opinion;

I think your personal blog may have one or more of three values:
(1) demonstrating your ability to communicate in a clear, compelling way,
(2) illustrating your marketing knowledge, and
(3), the big one, potentially as a case study to show how you market Brand Emma.
Every marketer gets asked the question at some point… If you can’t sell yourself, why should I hire you to sell this business?

How To Market Brand Me

Whether you’ve got 12 months work experience under your belt or not, all the experts on the panel focused their CV advice around two things, one, make sure you have a super CV that stands out from the crowd, and two, create cover letter templates that sell your value to employers – one aimed at advertised roles and a speculative letter for approaching employers you want to work for.

If you want to be kept up to date with more live Q&As from the Guardian Careers and / or advice features and job seeking resources, you can now sign up here for free here. All you have to do is let them know the sectors and topics you’re interested in and they’ll email you a weekly round-up of what’s new on the Careers site, along with exclusive advice and content each month. You can follow the Guardian Careers on Twitter as well @GuardianCareers for more expert advice, discussions and comments for graduate job seekers and career changers.

I hope the summary above was of use to you and you are able to apply some of the feedback I was given. In the meantime, good luck with whatever career pathway you end up taking!