CV or not CV that is the question?


I am always struck by the sometimes confusing advice and guidance on CV’s or résumé – as they say across the pond in the USA. The sheer amount of information online and printed copy on CV’s is astonishing and sometimes completely overwhelming. Is it chronological, skills based, an academic (self explanatory really) or a hybrid perhaps? Way back in the 1970’s in “What Color Is Your Parachute?” Richard Bolles wrote about the declining need for CV’s. Though is this still true? It may be that certain styles of CV may have met a natural end however the CV is evolving (as they always have) rather than dying out completely.

There was a time when CV’s were typed individually and then copied onto some lovely quality laid paper and a matching envelope. The employer’s expectation was that you would present your experience and education in an organised and in a chronological manner. Needless to say, it was time-consuming and expensive, in fact most job-seekers printed one all-purpose generic CV that probably didn’t exactly fit the job specifications. Some covering letters were also copied and used generically and still are in some cases.

Today job-seekers & career changers are expected to spend much more time personalising their CV’s to the career or work area they were looking at. Most times altering the order of the experience, adding or subtracting jobs and/or degrees/education based on the interests of the employer and job specification essentials & desirables. The CV has become a fluid job seeking, career changing marketing tool. It is this method that is the minimum standard for recruiters and HR professionals. Notwithstanding, the issue today of recruiters checking the CV against the social networking profiles such as Linkedin, Facebook & Twitter amongst others.  So the written CV has to stack up against the social media profile and your other internet based profiles. No one suggested job searching & CV writing was going to be easy!

Regardless of the style of CV you create the same basic rules need to apply. Your work will need to be in a position really stand out. Your creation has to be the best you can get as you may only have 7-20 seconds viewing time, harsh but true. The recruiter will need to know who you are, the education & experiences you have had and the challenges you have faced and overcome. You will also have to think about the right marketing approach to demonstrate your abilities and present information that the employer or industry is seeking in a logical and easy to understand format. So start by planning your message: what is the goal & objective of your CV and how will you accomplish that? Who is your audience? What are they expecting? How would they like to view your CV?

So here are a few tip to get you started.

  • Keep it concise no more that two pages – the CV has one job to get you the interview
  • Start with a profile of who you are (don’t waffle its about what you bring to the business) key skills & achievements and your career/educational history
  • Provide evidence of who you are, the problems you solved and the results. Check out the STAR (situation, task, actions took, & results) model for a good framework
  • Whatever claims you make in the CV back it up with evidence – never fib you will get found out!
  • Only write interests if they are specific to the role you are applying for.
  • Get your CV read by someone who will give you honest feedback before sending it and ensure it follows the essentials & desirables of the job specification.
  • Make the CV irresistible to recruiters – why they would be daft not to employ you!
  • Lastly, how are you going to add value to the role you are applying for, what will you bring to the role?

As you can imagine these tips for a great CV are only the tip of the iceberg. I am happy to supply complementary in-depth information, that will cut through the CV noise to get the job/career you want and the job/career you will love. 


2014 Bolles, R.N. “What color Is your your parachute – A practical manual for job-hunters and career changers” Ten Speed Press, USA