CVs that actually say something (and don’t annoy people)

You already know this: your CV is your business card and therefore it should be perfect. It should also be relevant for the reader and ideally communicate your personality and traits as an executive.

An article by the Harvard Business Review “How to Write a Resume That Doesn’t Annoy People” describes this as the problem of “all CVs looking the same”.

So, how do you write a CV that actually says something?

First, you can read our post on the fundamentals of writing a good resume.

And here some tips straight from the mentioned article that admittedly is a bit old (from 2009), but the advice is still valid and the message is simple: always write a CV that actually says something!

Recruiters receive dozens, if not hundreds of CVs every day. It is fair to say that the majority of them sound exactly the same. Here some examples freshly pulled from CVs:
– “Results-oriented executive who brings extensive business insight to guide continuous performance improvement”
– “He combines strategy mindset with hands-on approach. Proven technology acumen”
– “A business focused and self driven manager who is passionate on people’s development”
– “A big picture thinker, able to connect leadership and culture to a strategy of an organization”
– “A highly successful authentic leader with extensive knowledge of…”
– “An open-minded, creative manager focused on delivering efficient solutions”.

What’s wrong with these statements? Any manager who likes one of the statements could copy-paste it into their own resume. If all profile summaries sound the same, how can recruiters distinguish between good and bad candidates?

To quote the article: “when all CVs are the same, one feels forced to come up with arbitrary rules to narrow the field”. These rules can be, for example, rejecting all CVs with:
– bad / messy / illegible formatting
– wrong file format (editable version instead of a .pdf file)
– unprofessional contact data
– typos

After all, if you don’t know (or care) that your own resume is full of mistakes, how can you be expected to supervise a multi-million dollar project budget?

As for avoiding being too generic:
– choose verbs that mean something. When writing about your achievements, use the active form that clearly indicates the type of action, eg: “wrote”, “designed”, “managed”, “implemented” (always in 3rd person).

be as specific as possible. Instead of writing: “achieved positive business results”, write: company A: increased sales by 11%; company B: decreased marketing costs by 10%, etc.

avoid sloppy formatting & typos.

Feel free to also check out this post: 3 signs that you have a bad CV.

To read the whole article “How to Write a Resume That Doesn’t Annoy People”, go here.

Not sure if your CV is good enough? Feel free to request a complimentary CV Report which:
– assesses the document and NOT the quality of the experience or education
– assesses every single aspect of the document: from punctuation mistakes to typos

To request the report, click here or send an email to Subject: CV Report. You will receive it with market-relevant tips within 3-5 business days.