I recently read a CV that made me very depressed. No, it wasn’t mine. It belonged to a bloke I shall call Dave.
In four pages Dave succinctly set out why anyone not instantly giving him a job would end up feeling like the record executive who knocked back The Beatles. I’ve looked at the CV again and again breaking it down and trying to identify what made it so good. Here’s the fruit of that analysis (with a nod to Greg Wallace and Professional Masterchef).
First page – The Starter: Name, telephone number and email. (Nothing strange there.) Then a two column bullet point box headed something like specialisms or areas of expertise. Snappy bite-size summings-up of what Dave is really good at. Then three powerful paragraphs about Dave’s high-level achievements and experience.
Greg’s verdict: Terrific blend of flavours using solid ingredients that let the ‘real you’ come through. Lovely. Putting together good CV Page 1s doesn’t come tougher than this.
Page 2 – Mains: Dave then took each of the bullet points as a sub-heading and provided 2 or 3 examples of achievements that supported his claim for excellence in this particular area. For example, there was strategic leadership, operational management, professional specialism and all with concrete examples.
Greg’s verdict: Dave really showing he is in full command on the menu here. Nuggets of outstanding taste carried through from the starter. A chef right at the top of his game. Well done. Creating a main body of a CV doesn’t get much tougher than this.
Pages 3-4 – The finale – dessert and the cheeseboard: At this point Dave goes traditional with a career history that reorders his achievements and areas of excellence chronologically. This section provides evidence of the breadth and depth of his experience.
Greg’s verdict: A triumph, my son. Dave introduced the flavour themes on page one and he’s carried them right through to the end here. It’s like the last Lord of the Rings film tying up all the loose ends into a satisfying resolution. Without the hobbits obviously. CV finales don’t get tougher than this.
I obviously re-read my CV next to Dave’s. Oh dear. Where Dave’s was focused mine was diffuse. His tauter than Gavin Henson’s abs. Mine sadly flabby and without definition. His had garnered a string of interim management roles. Mine a growing pile of rejection letters.
So, I leapt to arms. A fresh opportunity had come up anyway so I completely rewrote the CV and used this as a way into completing the personal statement. It was really hard work. But I’ve just pinged off a covering letter, CV and personal statement that I’m immensely proud of.
But, of course, in these social media days this will not be enough. Yes it’s time to update LinkedIn and the other repositories of my CV all over the net. And given my pride in my new CV I think some targetted distribution to a shortlist of local organisations and businesses is called for.
As Greg would say. Making CVs doesn’t get much tougher than this.