Writing your Curriculum vitae – Keep it Clear-Cut

Keep your curriculum vitae simple. Your curriculum vitae must be concise. Your curriculum vitae must be easy to read. Your curriculum vitae must sell you. And your curriculum vitae must be tailored to what the reader is looking for.

These CV and letter principles apply to all career moves. Having a good CV is essential for full-time jobs, part-time, internal, external, promotions, new jobs, career changes, internships and work experience placements – wherever an employer or decision-maker is short-listing or interviewing or selecting applicants.

Short-listed and successful candidates are invariably the people who provide employers with the best CVs and best covering letters.

A CV does not have to be a text document. It can be a video. If a picture tells a thousand words, imagine what moving pictures can convey about you. The technology exists now for anyone to create a video CV, and to upload it onto a website – including this one.

These notes are therefore not restricted to text-based CVs. The principles are good for your video CV too. Text or Video – the same principles apply.

How you perform at the interview or group selection is of course crucial, but only the people with the best CVs and letters get to that stage.

CV writing is a form of marketing or advertising, when the product is you.

This is especially so now when you can publish your CV – and/or video CV onto websites.

Opportunities like the ones offered on the will increasingly enable you to create an impressive ‘new-media CV’ and then to proactively market yourself to employers where you can be seen, and also referenced by you in letters and hard-copy documents.

Your CV must sell you to a prospective employer, and compete against other applicants who are also trying to sell themselves. So the challenge in CV writing is to be more appealing and attractive than the rest.

This means that your curriculum vitae must be presented professionally, clearly, and in a way that indicates you are an ideal candidate for the job, i.e., you possess the right skills, experience, behaviour, attitude, morality that the employer is seeking. The way you present your CV effectively demonstrates your ability to communicate, and particularly to explain a professional business proposition.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employer: write down a description of the person they are looking for. You can now use this as a blue-print for your CV. The better the match the more likely you are to be called for an interview.

If you find it difficult to match your own CV description to the requirements of the role, then perhaps the role isn’t for you. There’s little or no point distorting or falsifying yourself in order to get a job. If you falsify yourself in your CV you’ll be unlikely to provide the necessary proof of your claims at interview, and even if you manage to do this and to get the job, then you’ll not be able to do the job enjoyably without stress.

Obviously lying in a CV is a risky strategy, especially about qualifications, and you should avoid any such temptation. Better to be proud and confident of who you are. Integrity and reputation are more important than qualifications. A CV with a lie is an embarrassment, or even a dismissal, waiting to happen, sometimes years later when you’ve a lot more to lose.

Blow your own trumpet, emphasise your characteristics, your capabilities and achievements – this is all fine – but know where to draw the line. Positive emphasis and strong presentation is good; falsehoods are not.

On the point about ‘blowing your own trumpet’ (presenting yourself within the CV in a very positive light) – many people find this difficult, especially those with strong ‘sensing’ personalities, who see life in terms of bare facts (make time to see the personality section, and read Jung, Myers Briggs, etc – it will help you understand a lot about yourself). If you are one of these people (in fact many people are) try to get help from someone creative and enthusiastic to assist you in interpreting and writing very positive phrases and descriptions about you for your CV. In your CV it’s important to emphasise your attributes in strong, relevant and expressive terms; modesty doesn’t work particularly well on any CV.

Additionally, there is a widely held school of thought that writing such statements – powerful descriptions about yourself, your personality and your strengths and capabilities – actually helps you to become even more like the person you describe. It’s related to NLP, self-talk, self-belief, and positive visualisation: we tend to live up to our claims when we write them down and commit to them. Creating a positive CV for ourselves helps us to grow and to become how we want to be.

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