CV Writing - An insider's view

90% of the population have lost their ability to communicate effectively and so the 10% who still know how bring joy to the hearts of recruiters. These people build a special and different kind of relationship that gives them better access to feedback and a head start in positioning themselves professionally.

Take the time to be yourself
Your CV only has 20 seconds to impress but if you start early you have days, weeks and months to perfect it. If you look in the word-processing application on your desktop you will find templates for CV writing. Do not use these or anything you find in a website or in a book. Do not neutralise your individuality by presenting the same design as the 90% of weak candidates. There are no rules as to what a CV must be but whatever it looks like it has to communicate.

Understand what they are looking for
The person who gets that job will be the one who offers the highest level of solution to the problems the employer is trying to solve. Catch 22 is that they probably do not know exactly what they need and it may change depending on who applies. Your goal is to imagine and anticipate the kind of employee profile that will impress the type of employers you will target, at the approximate level you are hoping to go in at.

This does not mean writing a new CV for every single job but it could mean being flexible on your cover letter and being able to adjust the headline content of your CV for a particular job if you do get some detailed facts.

Avoid CV automation
For many years there has been a trend for short, punchy CVs, leading with sections like profile, objectives and achievements, often crammed into one exploding page of bullet points. Try to imagine how daunting that is to the reader and how little chance you have of connecting with them as a human being who starts to understand the stranger behind the words.

We are all different so nobody can tell you what your perfect CV looks like, but there is no rule saying you can't give yourself 2 pages and generally speaking, the right pattern to follow is:

  • the pitch: summarise who you are and make some professional sounding claims
  • the validation: use the rest of the CV to prove who you are and justify those claims
  • Your life is a narrative
Basically, you are hoping to tell a short story about your career, interesting enough to engage the reader and have them like you, impressive enough to make them consider you as a candidate and convincing enough for them to believe in what you say. Try to avoid using the first person 'I" and 'my" because it positions you lower than a more professional form of words. Turn off the grammar checker because CVs use their own conventions and actually contain no proper sentences or paragraphs.

Just be human
The nerves, the fears, the caution, the bravado - all the unprofessional attitudes will show through to the X-ray eyes of an experienced recruiter. You cannot manipulate them or second-guess their opinions. You can only influence them by the sheer professional quality and integrity of what your CV says when it speaks to them. So be yourself in your CV writing - let them find the real human being they are looking to appoint to that job.