An interview with Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of City CV
2to3days is delighted to announce our new partnership with award-winning careers consultancy, City CV. Victoria McLean founded City CV in 2011 and is now well-established as one of the UK’s leading experts in CV writing, career advice and career coaching. She is particularly passionate about helping women get back to work after career breaks to raise a family.
We are excited to be working with Victoria and her team to run joint webinars and workshops on a range of career topics, including our latest event The Complete Career Workshop Day on Tuesday 10th September.
Q: Hi Victoria, could you tell us about yourself, and why you set up City CV?
I started my career as a headhunter and recruitment consultant, before working as recruitment manager at Goldman Sachs and then Merrill Lynch Bank of America, where I led the recruitment for many of their most high-profile roles and departments. When I had my first child a decade ago (I’m now mum to a boy and a girl), I wanted more flexibility. Working 60-hour weeks in the City no longer appealed, but I was still passionate about having a career and I wanted to build on my expertise.
Like many other women, I found myself reassessing my priorities while on maternity leave. I took the opportunity to step back and invest some time thinking about what I loved doing and how I could achieve the work/life balance I craved. My expertise was in recruitment and career coaching, I have always been interested in people, and, as a bookish child, I had always loved writing, so City CV was born.
It is the perfect niche for me. My background - on the agency side, in-house and now as a globally recognised career expert - has given me an understanding of all angles of the recruitment process. My whole career has been spent delving deeply into truly understanding what employers are looking for.
I’ve also always been committed to ensuring individuals fulfil their career goals. There is nothing I love more than receiving ‘thank you’ emails and congratulating our clients on their new roles. It’s what it’s all about for me.
Q: How has City CV developed over the last eight years and what do you offer to working mothers?
Initially, City CV was just me, working from home, learning and evolving the business as I went along. Now, we have a team of 20 writers and coaches covering everything from creating winning CVs and LinkedIn profiles, to coaching for interview skills, personal branding and job search strategies. We also develop and deliver entire career development programmes for individuals and corporates.
In the last few years, we have won several industry awards (Best Executive CV, Best Finance CV, Best Graduate CV, Best Sales & Marketing CV, Best International CV, Best Hospitality CV). More importantly, we have helped individuals across a broad range of industries and demographics secure excellent jobs.
When I was working in recruitment, I always enjoyed coaching individuals. I recognised that people were not making the most of their skills and were frequently not able to see or articulate their real talents. This is true of people at all stages in their careers, but navigating a return to work after a career break can be particularly challenging.
It’s a time when many women go through what I went through. They re-evaluate. They still crave a fulfilling career, financial security and a sense of purpose. But, now they also need to put the needs of their children first.
Here at City CV, we help women create their own future on their own terms. We know working mothers bring an immense amount of skills, experience and perspective to the workplace. Where we come in is helping those fantastic mothers convince prospective employers of their value to them. It’s about drawing out the often hidden or hard to articulate soft skills and demonstrate the strengths that make up your personal story.
Q: Why do you think people find it so difficult to write their own CV?
Many people think CVs are just about listing your experience and selling your skills. In fact, it’s more like developing a personal marketing strategy. You need to understand your career ambitions and your target company or sector. What does the employer really need and why should they pick you over potentially hundreds of other candidates?
It’s all about understanding your audience and matching what you can offer to what they’re looking for. And, of course, for most roles now your CV also needs to be keyword optimised to get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Articulating all that in a two-page CV is daunting for everyone.
Women returning from a career break also have the challenge of writing convincingly about the varied skills and achievements they have amassed over a non-linear career. They need to summarise a range of job roles, highlight key projects, explain freelancing stints and any re-training or other activities they’ve undertaken during a career break.
We often find women underestimate their value after a career break. They need help telling their story and bringing all their most relevant achievements together into a compelling marketing document. But we’ve guided everyone from high-flying barristers, savvy marketing directors and highly skilled project managers through the process. We offer a 1.5 hour ‘career therapy’ phone session with your CV writer and then they’ll do all the hard work of creating a strategic, key-word optimised and interview generating CV and LinkedIn profile for you.
It’s a worthwhile investment to get your career back on track or take it to the next level. And, I’m really looking forward to working with 2to3days to help get as many women back to work and fulfilling as many career ambitions as possible.
Q: Finally, what is your #1 CV writing tip?
Your CV is not just a history of what you have been doing: it should be targeted to where you are going – so spend considerable time thinking about your target audience. How can you get them excited about you? Think about your pitch.
Thank you, Victoria, we’re looking forward to working with you more in the future.