Why your CV or resume WON’T get you the job – and why that’s OK and important

Many people assume their CV or resume is there to get them a job. Wrong. Let me explain why that’s wrong, why it’s OK, and why that’s important.

You’ve put it off for days, or even weeks, but finally you can delay no longer, yes, its time to update your CV or resume.  To most people, the thought of writing or updating their CV or resume is a daunting one.  The primary reason for this is doubt; and doubt can be a powerful negative emotion that will immobilise you unless you can overcome it.  In the case of writing your CV or resume – your perfect resume – the doubt comes in several flavours:

  • will your CV of resume include all the relevant information?
  • will it be too long?
  • will it be too short?
  • what will other candidates write?
  • should I use bold font here, or underline (and which font to use!)?
  • what about paragraphs and headings?
  • should I use a professional resume writer?
  • how much detail is enough?
  • one page, two, three, four (and how to I cover my entire experience in anything less than 4 pages)?
  • should I include a photo?
  • will I get the job?
  • … and the list goes on …

CV and resume writing is truly a minefield of choices, its no surprise that most people have trouble starting; and even when done, those doubts remain.

Still, before you can even start there’s an important realisation you must make; let me put it as a question: what is the PURPOSE of your CV or resume?  Surprisingly, most people I speak to cannot answer this question correctly, here are some of the typical answers you may find:

  • to get a new job
  • to progress my career
  • to tell people what I’ve done
  • to outline my experience and skills
  • to present my achievements
  • and more…

No, the sole purpose, let me say that again, the SOLE PURPOSE of your CV or resume is to GET AN INTERVIEW, not get a job.  Yes, that’s right – not get a job. Only in very exceptional circumstances will you ever land a job without first meeting your prospective employer, and so, the sole purpose of your CV or resume is to secure an interview; it’s only when you get to the interview that you actually get a chance to get the job. So, let me sum that up:

  • the purpose of your CV or RESUME is to secure an INTERVIEW
  • the purpose of the INTERVIEW is to secure the JOB

Or, to put it another way: RESUME –> INTERVIEW –> JOB! I challenge anyone to convince me otherwise. 

Now, that may seem like a trivial distinction, but stop for a moment and think about it:

Firstly, if the purpose of the CV or resume is not to secure the JOB, then forget trying to cover EVERYTHING about your amazing life, because you’ll never fit it all in less than 10 pages.

Secondly, if the purpose of the CV or resume is to secure an INTERVIEW, you can start to think about your CV or resume in a different way.  Isn’t it always true that you have to first understand the purpose before taking the action? Well, here is your purpose for writing your CV or resume, and it should guide everything that you do when writing your CV or resume.

The only things that should be in your CV or resume are things that will help you to get an interview, and you should include nothing that may negate that purpose.  And this carries forward into style and presentation too; if it will help you get an interview include it, and if it won’t, don’t.

So, with that in mind, approach your resume with a fresh purpose, and think only about how can you make your CV stand out from the hundreds of other applications that a prospective employer will receive. Knowing your purpose will help you remove doubt and uncertainty about how and what to write. Now, stop procrastinating and go for it, you have no reason to doubt!

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One Response to Why your CV or resume WON’T get you the job – and why that’s OK and important

  1. Pingback: Skills versus Attitude | Talk to Shine

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