The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Put your best foot forward

People take you at your own estimation of your worth. Present yourself as a valuable addition to someone’s business and you will be seen as such.

Of course, in order to do that, you need to be focused and committed. There is no such thing as being good enough when your career is at stake. Your CV, statement, website or email must be a perfect representation of who you are, what you have achieved, what vision and insight you bring to your work, how you manage the tasks, strategies and relationships you work with, and what you are likely to contribute in the future.

Anything less than that is unlikely to catch the eye, engage the mind and touch the heart of the people out there who are looking for someone like you to join them.

Life’s a mirror

It is a huge error to be lazy or casual about the way you present yourself; it is a common error to be inaccurate and very few people ask for too much from life — the most common fault is not to expect enough. Life is a mirror; what you put out has a relationship to what you get. You need to clearly establish your value; issues that might block your progress need to be dealt with in a mature way and not left until they become an embarrassing disclosure. Projects that you have started, and which show your potential, should be included, even if they are not yet complete.

Right time

When your CV arrives it will be looked at by people who can tell at a glance what it signifies. Make sure it sends them the right message and then reinforces it in a professional way.

There is one core distinction between people with exceptional careers and everyone else. The most effective ones generally take action when the time is right. Such people can prosper even if they start life without much in the way of qualifications. Sometimes they have been loyal to one or a few employers. They have proven themselves and been offered chances, which they have been well placed to take advantage of. Their approach to career issues reflects this maturity and they are clear about objectives, dignified in their contacts, impressive to others, able to ask the right questions and get the desired responses.

Ready to go

The rest of the population, by contrast, is never quite ready and always scrambling against a negative influence. Some have huge ideas, beyond their ability to deliver; some are always caught off-guard by takeovers, redundancies, movements in the marketplace; some have become complacent; many are angry at their own lack of achievements and their job applications contain a sulky righteousness that growls quietly through the text as a hidden sub-plot... and some are just hoping their distance learning MBA will fix the problem!

Perfect fit

As a CV writer, I always create a perfect template CV and very rarely change it for specific jobs because what is wrong with them is not what recruiters say is wrong at all... in general what is wrong is that they are boring, uncreative, poorly designed, badly prioritised and above all, lacking in a warm and convincing human narrative that gets the story across quickly.

Road ahead

Your CV needs to tell people why, how and with what result you did and will continue to do wonderful things you desire to do. If you can do this simple thing, you will establish a dialogue with recruiters and be able to present yourself as a successful find. If you cannot do this, then pay an expert to show you what it feels like to present a new and successful you. The confidence that can be derived from knowing how to present yourself will help to brighten your job search.

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