5 mistakes interims make on their CV

| 15 March 2023

When it comes to creating a standout CV, even the most experienced interim managers can make mistakes.

The interim market is crowded, so it’s important to ensure your CV stands out from the crowd. And whilst, an interim CV follows the usual guidelines of a permanent CV, there are some key considerations and mistakes to avoid when tailoring your CV.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes that interim managers make on their CVs, so you can avoid them and make a winning impression.


MISTAKE 1 – Focusing too much on job duties and not enough on achievements

It may seem obvious, but the amount of CVs I see that miss off the results and impact of their assignments is astounding. This is the good stuff that will really help you stand out. Do not write your CV like job description of responsibilities. These literally have no impact at all. Here’s a few tips to consider when adding to your CV:

  • Use quantifiable metrics: Whenever possible, use specific numbers to demonstrate your achievements. For example, instead of writing “Improved sales,” write “Increased sales by 20% within 6 months through the implementation of a new sales strategy.” As an interim, you will typically have these type of KPIs documented when you finish as assignment – so make sure you add them into your CV too!
  • Highlight key accomplishments: Think about the key accomplishments you achieved in each role and include those in your CV. For example, “Successfully managed the integration of two companies, resulting in a streamlined operation and increased efficiency.”
  • Emphasise the challenges you faced: As an interim, you will have likely come into a business to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. This is one of the key things clients will be looking to understand your skillset around. Ensure you have clearly communicated what this challenge was and how you overcame it. For example, “Led the turnaround of a struggling division, achieving profitability within 12 months through cost-cutting measures and process improvements.”


MISTAKE 2 – Not tailoring the CV for each assignment

Tailoring your CV is an important step when looking for your next assignment, especially if you’re an interim with lots of assignments under your belt. Each assignment will have its own merits, but it’s important to pull out your most relevant skills and experience from each. It can be laborious to have to revisit each for each, but it will really communicate to the client that you understand the challenge they are facing and are the right person to take it on.

It’s worthwhile having a ‘master’ CV that you can tailor to each new role – keeping in only what’s relevant. This is a particularly useful idea for interims where a quick turnaround is needed. Clients often request relevant CVs in 24 hours.


MISTAKE 3 – Including every single assignment in date order

Closely related to the above, due to the nature of interim work, you’ll likely have a really lengthy CV. It can be a lot of a client to read through. To make this quick, I also suggest adding a section at the top of the CV covering the most relevant roles. List them and your core achievements so that this is the first thing they read. Then they can go on to read the rest of the CV.

Also, remember you don’t have to go into detail on every single role when writing a CV. It is ok to just list old roles with no relevance. But, be surebring forward the ones with relevance.


MISTAKE 4 – Not being entirely honest

CV embellishment is something that occurs both in the interim market and more broadly across the whole recruitment sector. Did you really lead the project or were you part of the team? This usually all comes to light when the client deep dives into your CV at the interview stage. This wastes the client’s time, your time and my time. Once a client has flagged this with us, you could end up with a black mark against your name and ultimately end up on missing future projects.

And if this isn’t picked up during the interview, you still need to be very wary about landing a role that you are not qualified for. It won’t be good for you or the client, if you don’t meet expectations. Of course, it’s always great to be pushed in a role, and rising to the occasion, but it is important that the client knows that, rather than finding out you don’t actually have the skills required to do the job.


MISTAKE 5 – Overloading the CV with information

It’s important to keep in mind who will be reading your CV. Do not tell me a long-winded story. If I see a chunk of writing like a story, I assure you no one is reading it.

For an interim position, it will likely be a time-poor executive who will want to scan through your CV. Research shows that recruiters spend 6-8 seconds deciding if someone is suitable for a job; you can be sure that a senior executive will spend even less time.

A clear and concise CV is your best option to ensure your reader sees the value you would bring to the role, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. Consider the layout, using headings and sub-heading and bullet points to clearly communicate the key skills and experiences you want the reader to know about you.

I often advise interim candidate to follow this formula. First, focus on the role – what did you come in to do? Make this sharp and to the point. Then, focus on your achievements. Bullet point them. This is by far the easiest and most digestible way to break down the role in to individual achievements and impact.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that your CV makes a great impression and helps you stand out from other interim manager candidates!


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