Everyone knows how important a CV can be to your employment prospects, but in spite of that, there are so many different rules people have been told about how to put theirs together – and a lot of them are massively out of date. Here, then, based on our experience earned as recruitment consultants at IT Works, is our ERP CV Guide for 2022.
Understanding the Process
A CV is often treated like an afterthought by either highly qualified, very experienced candidates or complete beginners. The beginners are easily explained; they don’t realise how important it can be.
For the experienced candidates, there seems to be a different theory. An employer would be lucky to have them; their skills should speak for themselves; therefore they don’t need to invest the effort.
We agree on one count – an employer would be lucky to have you!
But your skills can’t speak for themselves unless they have a chance to be heard – and without a strong CV you won’t get your foot through the door. And unfortunately, that means investing effort in your CVs.
Yes, CVs. Most people already know that tailoring your CV for your specific audience has become a standard part of the process, but there’s often a lot of resistance to the idea.
But let’s look at it from another angle.
Ahead of your interview, you’d stop and do some research on the company you’re interviewing for. If you know who’s going to be interviewing you, you might look them up on LinkedIn, and make some mental notes about mutual interests in case the opportunity to bring them up presents itself.
There’s no real difference between how you present yourself in the interview and how you present yourself in a CV; both of them deserve customisation.
To begin with, just focus on writing one CV. Save this with the word ‘Baseline’ or something similar as part of the filename. We also recommend including the date (at least to month level) in the filename – this is going to be vitally important to version control.
Even the filename can be an important part of the CV’s presentation with modern electronic submissions. Granted, some companies will remove names and other identifying details before presenting the CV for review, and some recruiters may have a recommended style or simply save their on-file version of your CV with a new filename in line with their system.
All the same, there will be occasions where your potential future employer sees the filename you gave your CV – and this may form part of their judgement.
The single most important tip we can give you here is to include your name. Yes, they’ll be able to read that (and get your contact details) from the document itself, but you want to make it easy for hiring managers to find your file. (You also want to send a message to them that you’ve thought about this.)
However, there’s a little more to think about.
Joe Bloggs CV.docx
Try something like
Joe Bloggs – CV – 202203.docx (this example CV was saved in March 2022)
This sends several signals. First and foremost, you can tell at a glance what your name is and that the CV was written in March 2022 – so it’s probably up to date!
It also shows that you understand the importance of version control. When you’re the only one working with a given file structure, it’s not as important – but when you’re part of a team, it’s vital that everyone can tell which is the newest version and that a record is kept of past versions.
Demonstrating these soft skills from the beginning can give you a huge advantage compared to the competition.
On top of all that, of course, it’s going to make it much easier for you to find the CV draft you want!
When you’re preparing new CVs from your master CV, don’t forget to save them distinctively.
Think carefully about using the company name as part of your labelling for each file. It can work well – they know you’ve spent effort on applying to them specifically. It can also become negative – some hiring managers hate thinking they’re not your only active application, and naming the file for them can make them think about other places you’re interviewing.
Honesty vs. Salesmanship: Walking the Line
We’ve all had to answer the question: What can you prove? What can you claim?
There’s an expectation in British jobhunting that your CV will list everything you can prove, but will also push those limits a little. Working with spreadsheets from time to time becomes Excel expertise.
That may be expected, but it can be risky; a number of ‘gotcha’ questions in interviews have been designed specifically to counter this behaviour. It’s important to make sure there’s nothing on your CV (even by implication) that you can’t back up.
Qualifications and certification should be real, and anything you claim to be able to do, you need to be able to answer clear questions on. Exaggeration might get your CV on the shortlist but if it leads to you bombing out in the interview, you’ve actually just wasted more time failing to get a job you were never going to land.
Details for Decision Makers
What’s the most important thing to have on your CV?
It may read like a trick question, but it isn’t – the most important thing on your CV is whatever gets you selected for an interview.
Just keep in mind that this isn’t going to be where you’ve worked (former Google developers excluded) – what you’ve done there is much more important. It isn’t always easy to look at your CV through the eyes of a decision-maker, but it’s important. Think back to the people you interviewed for your last job and consider your supervisors and line managers. What matters most to them?
You can break your career down into individual companies, positions, and into projects within those positions. For a decision maker, though, these are a generic shorthand for what you’ve done. Much better are your specific achievements.
Lay out your employment section with each company in chronological order (newest first). Include your job title, then add some space for bullet points. Note down your core responsibilities and add any significant achievements – and if you can, quantify the results!
Led the team working on custom code to connect the client’s IFS implementation to their bespoke accountancy software. The project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule. Testing confirmed no dropped data, while the previous approach needed roughly 3% of all activity to be entered manually.
Is better than:
Worked on custom code to connect the IFS implementation with bespoke accountancy software.
It’s more specific, it lays out achievements that decision makers love to see (faster than expected and demonstrating improved efficiency as a result) and it suggests you can direct a team where needed.
As a general rule, you should spend more time discussing your recent work – but for your core document, work through each job role thoroughly. Every general rule has its exceptions, and if you have a standout achievement from an older role that’s relevant to the job description you’re applying for, it should be on the version of the CV you put in. Having them pre-written helps massively with that.
Certifications aren’t everything, but they can be the bare minimum. By that, we mean that having a specific certification may be the bare minimum to avoid your CV being eliminated without being read.
Set aside a space on your CV that covers your certifications, and make sure it stands out from the rest. We wouldn’t say it has to be at the top of the front page, but it must be somewhere it’ll be seen quickly.
This should also be presented as a bullet-pointed list, but when you’re preparing a CV for a given role, again, this list should be trimmed down to relevant certifications and possibly 1-2 of the more impressive other qualifications.
Remember, your CV will probably not be read just by people in your field. General managers, hiring managers and more might be decision-makers.
How much technical jargon to include in a CV and cover letter can be a difficult line to walk. A CV with little or no jargon says “I have at best a surface-level understanding of this topic” – something you really can’t get away with in ERP applications; only subject matter experts will be hired.
On the other hand, a CV that’s full of jargon may say “I can’t communicate my knowledge to people who aren’t already in the field”.
That’s not a dealbreaker for all possible roles, but it can be for many of them. We recommend that you write your CV first with jargon – the way that it’ll make the most sense to you, and you’ll have the easiest time remembering everything you need to add.
Once that’s done, though, make a pass through your draft and mark out every instance of jargon, and every time you mention software (except for your specialist ERP) by name. Which of these need clarifying? (Everyone knows what PowerPoint is, or Sage. If you’ve worked with something more obscure, that might need explanation.)
Which of them isn’t going to make any sense to a hiring manager without a technical background?
Make the changes as you go, but keep in anything that will say to an experienced reader ‘this candidate knows their stuff’.
Qualifications & Certification
Lead with professional certifications and qualifications. These are much more likely to be relevant to the role. That means in turn that they’re much more important than your academic qualifications, even if those might have been much harder work and mean more to you.
Make sure you note when you achieved each certification. Decision makers will want to know whether the course is likely to have changed since then, and of course some certifications lapse over time. Don’t try claiming any which are officially lapsed! Instead, simply list the skills they taught you under job roles where you’ve used them.
Delivering to Spec
As we’ve already noted, what this gives us is a baseline CV to be tweaked and adjusted for your needs as each application comes up.
Just as we talked about using your CV filename to show soft skills concerning version control, the way you customise your CV can show another key skill; your ability to deliver work to specification.
Your career path should still be presented chronologically, but you will want to showcase your key skills at the top of the page as a candidate statement.
In each job’s bullet point list, you should also take the relevant skill sections and move them to the top of the list.
The same process of emphasis should be carried out on your qualifications and extracurriculars. Make sure that when decision makers first skim your CV they can’t help but see you’ve got the relevant experience and skills.
ERP industry jobs tend to be filled by those who pay attention to details, double- and even triple-check their work, and have a clear understanding of the problems they’re working on at any given time.
The best way to show these skills in your CV is by including clear examples, ideally with figures showing the benefit of your actions to your employer. But the second best way to show them is through customising your CV.
Build your baseline CV to use as a central reference, but write it with all the technical language you want to include. Just be ready to dial that down while you customise the piece.
More than in most industries, do your research into the role, the company and – if you can find out – the decision makers on the hire. You will want to speak directly to them in your CV, and to do that you have to know them,
If you’re applying through a recruitment agency you’ll often be able to get more detailed and extensive knowledge concerning role, company, and especially decision-makers. Make sure you pay attention to all the information we can offer – it’s there to help you get the right role with the right company for the right money.
And above all, good luck!