CV’s – if in doubt, take stuff out!

CV’s – if in doubt, take stuff out!
Published: 19 April 2018

There are very few folk who actually like writing a CV. We give the ‘old’ CV a bit of a tickle and hope for the best. Inherently this means your personal sales document is riddled with guff! Most CV’s are a bit bloated with out of date content, some are just skeletal. 

The latter simply need rich, accomplishment led content; showcasing the outcomes of your endeavours – an easy fix. With the former, if you are struggling to find a meaningful place to start, try taking things out. Clear the decks and give yourself the space to focus upon delivering the best content. 

The following are my top areas for re-shaping your CV and getting it fit for purpose:

  • Personal summary - Read it carefully, what does it say about you? Usually we‘ve spoken before having sight of your current CV, so I benefit from having context on you, so put less stock in the summary. However, hiring managers are often fascinated to see ‘what’s the first thing this person wants me to know about themselves?’ so consider it carefully.
  • Responsibilities – for almost any given job the responsibilities are common to that role irrespective of company.  These do not differentiate you. Show what you have delivered and achieved within the auspices of that role – this is your track record and it is unique. 
  • Hyperbole – think hard about your choice of language. Have you ever bought something because of fine words and grand statements over and above its performance? I doubt it! But don’t be bashful. Simplify your language to be more impactful. Let your accomplishments speak up for themselves.
  • Key competencies & skills – in these areas one size rarely fits all. If you don’t change, update or refine them according to the opportunity, it matters not if you miss by an inch or a mile. 
  • Academics – Include concise headlines, unless you are pursuing a role where deep academic detail is valued. Your work accomplishments should eclipse your qualifications. 
  • References – people will ask for them as and when they are required. Use the space more wisely. 
  • Interests – this is ultimately an expression of personality. But rather like a personal summary, be conscious of what they say about you. 

Whether you are putting content into your CV, or taking things out, make sure that everything in your CV earns its place on the page.

Matt Cockbill is a Partner and head of the IT and Digital Leadership practice.

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