3 Things A Curriculum Vitae Is NOT
It is our job to help our clients sell themselves 'on paper'. By taking all the wonderful information about their experience and skills and putting it into a succinct, impactful, well-designed document, we aim to help our clients secure the interviews that will have them well on their way to that all-important next career move. Reflecting on our info gathering process, we've realised that we often talk a lot about what a CV is. While this is, of course, logical, we think it could be beneficial to publish a blog post talking about some things a CV most definitely isn't.
As always, we like to inject a little lighthearted humour into our musings, because learning should be fun (and didn't some famous person once say something along the lines of: "The things you enjoy learning, you will never forget"? ). So brace yourself for our witty dad jokes and let's get into this rather illuminating list of three things a CV isn't!
1. A CV is NOT a job description
We know, we know, it's super tempting to grab your job description and copy/paste great wads of text in verbatim, but you can't do that. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. For one, some job descriptions are very long-winded and repetitive, and a CV should only be 2-3 pages long, which means you simply don't have the space to do the old copy, paste trick.
Secondly, have you ever noticed that some job descriptions use a great deal of waffle and vague language to describe the tasks you are supposed to perform? These sorts of wishy-washy bullet points don't accurately capture the true essence of what you do on a daily basis, so our best advice is to paraphrase and hone in on specifics before typing up a tidy, condensed version of your duties and responsibilities.
The third reason? (Well, we did say 'few' and a few is three!) Job descriptions don't cover your achievements and said achievements are the MOST critical part of any good CV. An employer wants to see examples of things like your initiative, leadership, and critical thinking in action, so without listing your achievements as they relate to the role, how are they going to get that vitally important level of insight?
So what else isn't a CV? (I mean aside from the obvious, i.e. a CV is not a car! But in a pinch, it could be used as an impromptu dinner plate! ha-ha)
2. A CV is NOT a cover letter.
Well daahhh? What the heck do we mean by that? Bear with us; it will make sense, we promise. First, let's briefly detail what a cover letter is. A cover letter is a one-page document written with a particular opportunity in mind. It should go into great detail explaining the specific points which make you an ideal match for an advertised position. A CV, on the other hand, is a 2-3 page evidence-based document summarising your employment and skills, which means it is not feasible (due to both length and level of detail) for you to construct your CV in the same hyper-focused way you do with cover letters.
While it may sound like we are contradicting ourselves a little from the 'a CV is not a job description' point above, we can assure you that we're not. A CV walks a fine line between being detailed, but still a general overview, and being specific, but not relating each achievement to the required bullets in the advertised position. It can get confusing!
One other thing a CV isn't...
3. A CV is NOT a biography.
Huh? You might be thinking... Yes. A CV is a professional career/skill summary, which absolutely MUST be written in 'first-person' language yet contain minimal use of the word 'I'. Another contradiction?! Well, kind of! 'Third-person' language would indeed remove the need to use the word 'I', but it is not right to be putting your CV together (a personal sales document, which by its very nature is all about you, yourself, and no one else), and writing about yourself from an external point of view. (In all honesty, 'third-person' language in a CV is weirder than eating peanut butter with mayo and asparagus on chocolate chip biscuits...)
So, how to get around this then? Our best advice is to write things like the introduction summary in your CV in 'first-person' language and don't start your sentences with 'I'. (This tip is helpful when writing your cover letter too!) Instead, start your sentences with adjectives to describe your soft skills and professional expertise. i.e.
I am an experienced, high achieving sales professional well versed with outbound selling in both the telecommunications and insurance industries...
An experienced, high achieving sales professional, I am well versed with outbound selling in both the telecommunication and insurance industries...
Simply moving the 'I' in this intro sentence is a small change that makes a significant impact on the overall way your CV reads.
So what do you think? Is your current CV a CV or is it written in 'third-person' language? Have you included far too much information from your old job descriptions? If you have the time to go through and make tweaks based on the three points raised above, you might be surprised how much more traction your revised document gets when you send out your applications.
We know our tips are super helpful, but if you're short on time or would rather watch paint dry than attempt to rehash your CV, we are here to help! Remember, we offer free, no-obligation quotes, so you have nothing to lose sending your CV through for us to review and provide you with helpful feedback.