Your CV – focus on always succeeding by focusing on removing the career blues

In 2013, Susan Adams, writing for Forbes, noted that .

It got me thinking: does the CV-writing market reflect that stat? And if we hope they do, they’d need to be aware of it and how many are? And why is it relevant to the CV writer? There are 2 key points here: (a) Curriculum Vitae (commonly abbreviated, of course, to CV) is the Latin expression for ‘the course of one’s life‘; but this can seem a bit misleading since no employer is interested in knowing your whole life story, particularly if you’re currently unhappy (they may interpret this as you being unhappy at work as opposed to in work); (b) the objective of the CV is not to get you a job – no employer is going to call you without a meeting, purely on the basis of reading your CV, and offer you the job.

Where’s this going I hear you ask? Well, I wondered how often I’ve actively thought: am I writing this client’s CV, period OR is this person fed up or unhappy at work and should I work it – indeed, can I work it – to reflect that? The conclusion I reached was that it cannot, and should not, reflect that dissatisfaction. But, I also thought, why don’t I ask people more often why they want to move as opposed to simply writing because they want to move; and would splitting the 2 change my style, if not the content?

Having concluded the style would remain the same, I wondered if there are structural or content elements I may change: whether the CV would be functional or chronological, 2 pages or more (yes some can be more than 2 – try writing an oil and gas CV for only 2 pages – you’ll struggle; or a CV for someone working in research in the EU, where they actively look for 6+ pages- yes, really!), be achievement or task-driven.

What I tend to find with CV clients is that, they say, they need the CV to reflect the fact that they want to move as opposed to just “being them” so they can secure a job. “I need it to reflect something totally different”….”it needs to show my skills in project management” (even though they’ve always worked in banking)….etc. It is then about the reality check. I advise that not only can the CV not reflect those things but it would be wrong to try since they give the impression of skills and experience which simply don’t exist.

So, a CV specifically for a person looking to move because they have the blues? I think not. The initial thought seemed, perhaps a little selfishly, good: I can open a market for myself by writing for a whole different sub-set of people – those who want to change job (not necessarily career path or sector) out of emotional necessity. But it was rapidly squashed – also by me! – when I realised I had totally forgotten to do what I advise every client they must do: appreciate that the CV is written about them but not for them, it’s written for the recruiter. And do we want the recruiter picking up on inferred misery or desperation? No, no, no. And, if I try to structure the CV so it is very different to the expected, or circuitous, or seems to leave unexplained gaps…it will do precisely that.

So, if you’re miserable and need a new career, do you also need a new CV? Probably. But do you need one that’s different from what the recruiter would expect? Definitely not. The flag will be raised.

Nigel Benson (10 Posts)

Nigel Benson is a professional career sector specialist with over 12 years' experience writing executive level CVs and expertise in recruitment, job interviews and training.

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1 Comment

  1. Kathy

    A CV is written about them (client/applicant) but not for them, it’s written for the recruiter’- How true! If you want to succeed in your interview, we need to understand the employer’s mind and refine our answers to make sure the employer gets to hear what he/she wants. I guess I’m guilty of not preparing my CV with that in mind myself. I guess that even if I match my CV with the picture that the employer has in mind then it still isn’t necessarily a sure way of getting that dream job, but it will almost certainly help! After all, if you don’t impress the recruiter in the first place you are never going to get a foot in the door. I think most of us forget this rather important fact when it comes to writing a CV, well said!