or… “How to write a professional resume and still show your personal sparkle”
Is your CV missing you? It’s a delicate balancing act, but you can inject your CV with bags of zingy personality – and still stay professional. Broken down into seven easy steps, here’s how to put your character into your CV and present brand YOU:
- Establish Brand You
You know what branding means – it’s all about the perception and association around a business. We think of a big brand, such as Coca Cola, Chanel or Aldi, and a plethora of associations pop up around it. So what do you want people to associate with your name? How can you create a happy, fulfilled and useful Brand You?
You might be all about efficiency, or friendliness, or reliability. Perhaps you define yourself through creativity or problem-solving skills. Work out clearly and succinctly what you can bring to the role and sum it up in 15 words or less. Employers, like the rest of us, are extremely brand-literate, so it’s a great way to grab their attention from the off.
- Keep it simple (and ONE page)
You may think you’re the most interesting individual on the planet – but you still have to keep it concise. Employers want a neat, short summary, with your most relevant roles and qualifications in the limelight. Use interesting and engaging words to describe yourself and your achievements, focusing on adjectives to aptly describe your best attributes without being too prolific.
A single pager doesn’t leave room for waffle and forces you to pick out your personal highlights – and that means a clearer and more impactful CV. No bells and whistles required!
- Tread carefully with ‘creative’ CVs
If you work in the media and have to present a reel, then fine, but otherwise stick to a fairly classic format. The potential employer may have tech issues and not be able to figure out a digital file; coloured paper only works with certain text and decorative fonts can be unreadable.
Or if you’re very personable and well-presented, you might venture a CVIV (curriculum vitae in video) like this one. It’s a creative way to get noticed and stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re applying for a customer-facing role. The key is to make it short and sweet and to be coherent and charming in a brilliant location. People will definitely remember you.
- Choose a font that suits your personality
Times New Roman or Gothic? Articles about the psychology of fonts are a fascinating read – Calibri is seen as clean, Century Gothic is chic and Baskerville Old Face reliable.
The famous Google logo, with its serif font, is interpreted as respectable and stable with a calming influence. Pick a font that conveys who you are – just make sure it’s easily readable and elegant.
- Bespoke your CV for every role
You know how you hate getting bulk mails? Recruiters hate bulk CVs. Of course, you highlight your most relevant experience but truly bespoke CVs are about so much more. How you position yourself will depend on the role you’re applying for, sure, but it also has a lot to do with the company culture.
Hit their website, check out all their social media presence, and work out how they communicate as a business. Reflect their tone back to them in your own communications – gauge how informal or creative they are and try to emulate that. It tells employers that you’re keen, you’re informed and you’ll fit in to the team.
- Edit – don’t lie, just edit
Don’t get stuck in the rut of presenting your work experience in order – and certainly don’t work from the beginning. Put your most recent jobs first, at the very least. But actually it’s perfectly OK to put your most relevant jobs first – you can mention the rest later if you feel the need. Not only does it make things easier for the recruiter, it helps you in that vital job of stripping away the flim-flam.
- Who cares what you were called – what did you DO?
This is a great approach for anyone who hasn’t actually racked up a whole load of relevant work experience. Instead of just listing a load of random job titles, summarise your success. For example, ‘I managed the whole project including growing the team of two to 10 people in just one year’.
Add some sparkle by adding your personal achievements and motivating moments outside work too. If you travelled around South America on a meagre budget for six months; it’s going in.
– Rachel Everett is a journalist working with Jonathan Lee, which focuses on opportunities in oil and gas recruitment.