Happy UN Career Podcast / Episode 9

Why You Always Want to Have an Updated CV!

Happy UN Career Podcast / Episode 9

Episode 9 / 10 November 2020


Hello, and welcome to this 2nd episode in a small series I’ve called: “Professional Development – Job Hunting and CVs”.

In the previous episode (the one I called “Keep Your UN Career Open – Look for Jobs”) I talked about the importance of staying open to new opportunities and regularly looking at vacancies and applying. You can find that episode at www.barbarakandersen.com/8.

In that last episode, I also promised that I would share some guiding principles on CV writing, but while preparing for that I realised that there’s an important point I wanted to bring up first.

And that’s:

Why you should always have an updated CV!

So, here’s a short episode on that.

The thing is, I’ve yet to meet a person who told me they enjoy CV writing. And I know that I certainly dreaded that task myself for many years.

So maybe you recognize this situation:

You have been in the same job for the last good many years. You made an effort when you dusted off your CV for the application for the job, you’re currently in. And then you were relieved to leave the CV at the bottom of your drawer once you had signed your contract. And it has stayed at the bottom of your drawer ever since.

There was that situation a few years ago where somebody mentioned an interesting job you thought you ought to apply for. You were very busy at work at the time, but you decided you’d still give it a shot.

But then you had to work late on the day of the application deadline. And when you thought about the updates you needed to do to your CV, you entirely lost steam – and confidence. And you decided that you just didn’t have the time (and honestly, you couldn’t muster the energy) to make the application. And so, you didn’t.

Or maybe you recognize this situation:

You applied for a job recently because it sounded really interesting and was a good match for your skills. And, lately, you’ve been feeling that it’s about time to move on.

But you were so busy with work and so exhausted when you came home in the evening that it was hard to really put in the necessary time to update your old CV.

So, in the end, all you had time and energy for was to add a paragraph about your current job experience and then throw in some keywords from the vacancy announcement. Hoping that it would still catch the eyes of the people doing the long listing.

As you finished your CV with tired eyes shortly before midnight, you suddenly remembered that you learned in a seminar once that it’s important to write something about your key achievements in your CV…

But you were so tired that you just knew that either the CV was going to be sent as it was – or you were not going to make it.

So, you sent it off as it was. Hoping that the recruiters would still be able to spot what a hardworking and competent professional you are – just right for the job.

But not actually feeling super professional in terms of the application you’d just made…

What’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that when your CV is not updated, that means you’re not ready to apply when an opportunity suddenly appears. And most times these opportunities are unexpected. It’s rare that we see great job opportunities appear on the horizon with plenty of time for us to get ourselves into gear and take half a day off (or more!) to prepare.

And the thing is that when you can’t – or don’t – want to share your CV at short notice, that can not only be limiting for your job search. But it can unfortunately also leave you feeling a bit unprofessional!

3 Symptoms of Not Having an Updated CV
  1. Applying for a job seems extraordinarily overwhelming because you’re keenly aware of all the work it’ll take for you to get ready.
  2. You feel embarrassed (or even stressed out) if somebody suggests that you share your CV with them. Or if you know that somebody will be checking you out on LinkedIn.
  3. When people ask about your career history and special interests and skills, and you’re suddenly a bit hesitant to respond and maybe you ramble a bit.
Keep Your CV Updated CV

The solution is of course to make sure that you always have your CV updated.

And it doesn’t need to be as troublesome as you might think when you use this tip:

Use the annual review or appraisal process with your supervisor as a prompt and a help!

You probably already spend a lot of time preparing for the appraisal, reviewing your goals and documenting your achievements. And in the same process thinking about your future career goals and professional development needs and desires.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to get out your CV and update it at the same time. Only remember that whenever you add something to your CV you most likely need to reduce it at the “back-end” in order to still keep it crisp and professional looking.

And, of course, do remember to update your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it.

5 Problems a Good CV Solves

So, you could say that there are 5 benefits of having a crisp, updated CV:

  1. You’re ready – and you feel ready – to apply for new jobs with a moderate amount of effort. This is a confidence booster and adds to your professional self-respect. Which we can always use!
  2. You’ve cleared the cobweb off your CV, and maybe also off yourself through the CV writing process where you’ve reconnected with your ambitions, your preferences and needs. And you’ve had an opportunity to acknowledge all the experience, skills and competencies you’ve acquired over the years. Which is actually a nice experience!
  3. You can easily and confidently share your CV with your network or new contacts when it’s relevant to let them know that you’re interested in a particular job, organisation, or development opportunity.
  4. If you feel that maybe it’s time to start looking ahead and find professional development in a new position, the updated CV will help kick-start – and fuel – that process.
  5. If you’re working on your CV outside of the appraisal season, there is a good chance that your CV work will inspire ideas and content that will feed back into your appraisal file.

You will feel differently after working on your CV. I can promise you that!

But don’t’ take my word for it. Try it out. I really encourage you to set aside time to update and polish your CV.

Maybe you want to spend some dedicated hours on the weekend? Or maybe it works better for you to dedicate 30 minutes before work each morning for the next week to make your CV professional and attractive? It doesn’t matter which way you do it – as long as you find a way that works for you.

Get Help

If it’s hard to get going on this one, you know what I’m going to say. 🙂

Find someone who’ll support you. Maybe you know somebody else who’d also like to get that accomplished and professional feeling from having a great CV ready to go.

If you feel self-conscious about it, you don’t need to show your CV’s to each other. Just agree that you’ll both be working on each your updates and help each other get finished.

But you shouldn’t feel self-conscious, you should feel proud of everything you’ve done and – if anything – eager to get help to shine a light on that in your CV.

What’s the Next Step?

In a coming episode I’ll talk about some essential guiding principles for writing a CV you’ll feel proud of – and that you’ll be happy to share with your network and send with your applications.

However, before that, I’m planning to share an interview with you with a wonderful – and wise – former colleague who started out as an intern and then spent more than 25 years with UNDP across 3 continents.

And appears to have enjoyed all of it!

There’s a lot for all of us to learn from it, so if I can get the technical part to work, I really look forward to sharing that with you next time.