An Interview with Victoria McLean, The CV Queen and CEO of CityCV

Victoria established City CV in 2008, following a successful career that included steering recruitment at two of the world’s largest investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.  As a former Head of Recruitment, she identified a gap in the market for high-quality resume / CV writing, career development and interview skills training for professionals at every level. Since then, City CV has flourished, employing experts across a vast array of industry sectors.

As a strategic thinker, Victoria has an impeccable understanding of what employers are looking for, both in a CV and at interview. Her strength lies in her ability to empathise with clients, in eliciting their professional experience, competencies and achievements, and translating these into a winning format, both on paper and face-to-face.

As a highly successful City business woman, with a secure career, what prompted you to start your own business?

It was the birth of my first child that made me start thinking about doing something different.  I didn’t want to work in the corporate world any more.  There were all sorts of things that determined where I went next:  I’ve always loved words, loved reading and writing and playing with words, making them work for me; I’ve always been committed to helping others; and I’d had a long career in recruitment and know how recruiters think and what they’re looking for.  So, City CV grew almost organically from that.

I’ve had experience of the agency world and I didn’t want to be just another recruitment company.  Agencies are focused entirely on the clients and meeting their requirements.  So, with City CV, I decided we would come at it from completely the other side, make the candidates our clients and help them to reach their goals.

Is there a secret to a good CV?

Traditionally where people go wrong when they put a CV together is that they write a history, a long list of their work experience. But it’s your future role you have to keep at the forefront of your mind, the one you’re applying for and you have to write your CV for the future employer.  What do they expect/need? And what can you deliver?

Your CV is a marketing document – selling you.  You mustn’t forget the audience you’re addressing with your CV and you need to adapt it accordingly.  So, a CV for a Project Manager role will be different to that for an EA role.  The employer has a particular gap to be filled or a problem to be solved, and if you can offer that function or skill, then you will get the job.

The best predictor of future performance is past performance. 

So many people write a list of their past responsibilities and what they’ve done.  But what the employer wants to see are the results that you’ve delivered and how you can transfer those skills to repeat that success for them.  Did you save your company time or generate revenue?  Did you enable the boss to deliver more, by saving him/her time?  The outcomes and commercial impact are more important than accreditation.

The role of the PA/EA is changing rapidly.  What advice can you give our members on how to ride that change?

The role of the PA/EA is expanding with the advent of AI and better technology.  As a PA, you have to be ahead of that and demonstrate that you are keeping pace with the changing business environment.  Your CV has to demonstrate that you are aware and able to manage the change.

I think it’s great, really exciting, when someone reaches the decision that it’s time to move on and into other areas.  You probably need two CVs at that stage: each focusing on activities relevant to the new role you’re looking for.  You need always to be thinking about the outcomes of that target role and the key words which will resonate with that audience.

LinkedIn is becoming huge as a source of jobs and candidates for jobs.  How can we make ourselves visible in that enormous market place?

About 80% of the jobs advertised online have a built-in tracking system which auto screens the application and will screen out those which don’t contain certain key words or are not formatted correctly.  We get a lot of calls from people who say they’ve never had a response to an application – and that’s why.  They are rejected straight away and the candidate will never know that their CV was never even seen by a real person.

There are tricks we can show you on how to get around this.  It’s – initially anyway – not about how good you are but about how you’ve designed and set out your CV.

We have a dedicated PA Club page on our website, offering members a reduced fee for CV writing and LinkedIn services.

City CV and The PA Club Free Webinars

Victoria Mclean and The PA Club are running a series of webinars, at 13:00 on the first Tuesday of each month, around topics of personal brand, recruitment, LinkedIn and your CV.

Our next webinar on Tuesday 6th November at 13:00 is on How To Create a Winning CV

Register here.