How To Write A Stand-Out Interim CV
If you were in a lift with a potential client, could you sum up what you do before arriving at the top floor? Try it and you might find you need to hone your proposition. A great interim CV is the first step, so here is some advice from the Alium Partners team.
Keep it concise
It’s not unusual for interim managers to present CVs that are 6, 8 or even 10 pages long. They might have had 10 different positions in the last five years; it’s just the nature of the work. However clients tend to skim read, so there is such a thing as too much detail.
Bullet points are as useful for entry-level staff as they are for highly-specialised interims. They convey information in bite-sized chunks, and don’t lend themselves to wordiness or over-explanation. Use them under each position to list responsibilities and key achievements.
It’s still a good idea to include an introductory summary or profile written in paragraph format. Just keep your message targeted and avoid writing more than a few sentences.
Include facts and figures
Don’t be tempted to skimp on hard facts. Rather than writing “managed large budget”, opt-for “managed £1m budget”. Instead of “oversaw whole project management team”, say “oversaw team of 25 project managers”. Numbers add weight to your successes and in this context, are more descriptive than general adjectives. Wherever a bullet point can be quantified, make sure it is.
Many interims include company descriptions on their CVs. This can be useful, especially if the companies are small or niche, but these descriptions should be objective and factual. Include sector, size and turnover figures wherever possible. If a company is a household name, it probably doesn’t need a description.
Firstly, fill in any gaps between positions. People have gaps in their careers for all sort of reasons – long-term travel, redundancy or breaks between contracts – and it is always better to explain them than not. Clients will value your honesty and move on to more important aspects of the CV, rather than ponder what you were doing between X and Y dates.
In addition, make sure your Linkedin profile matches your CV. Job titles and dates should be consistent as clients will often look at both.
Structure for purpose
The CV of a career interim is different to that of a life-long permanent employee. Interims tend to have a lot more content to squeeze in and sometimes even jobs that overlap. Nonetheless, a chronological list is the best approach. Put your interim company name at the top, then below it, write up all the assignments you have done from most recent to least. It might be appealing to use a summary table on top of this, but this usually just adds unnecessary bulk.
Another nice way to structure an interim CV is to have a section for “interim assignments” and another for “permanent career”. If there is a clear line between the two, this is logical format. It is fine to be brief on early career roles – many senior interims simply list company names, titles and dates for these. The focus should be on the most relevant and recent positions at the top of your CV.
Words like “dynamic” and “hard-working” carry very little weight on any CV, but even less so on an interim one. Not only are they overused, a good interim manager should possess these qualities by default.
The opening paragraph is where clichés are used most often. It is a difficult section to write, as it needs to make a good first impression and sum you up professionally. As with the rest of the CV, a factual and objective tone is most effective. Avoiding clichés but including specifics – such as names of key clients, years’ experience and number of assignments completed – is a good way to demonstrate gravitas. A well-built career history section will further illustrate your work ethic and seniority.