CV writing simplified: The Timeline Exercise

As a Job Coach I help my clients with their CV writing and I will share with you a simple visual exercise I developed. In my experience it works well when you want to make changes to your CV, but keep getting stuck in an old format. Or when you are looking for a career change, but you don’t know what direction you want to go. By creating a timeline and asking the right questions in a safe and supported way I’ve helped people get clarity on their past highlights and more importantly moved them towards achieving their future career goals.

Just take an empty A4 paper and draw an arrow on it horizontally, the whole length of the page.

The start of the arrow is your birth year, the end of the arrow where you are now.

Add your education, your work experiences, hobbies, courses, volunteering and fill the timeline with your life experiences.

A client of mine found writing her CV very challenging. She couldn’t get further than typing her personal details, so she contacted me for help. She felt stuck in her life and was looking for any job to return to the world of work. Instead of filling out a standard CV template, I drew a long arrow and explored her life to this date. I asked her questions about her education (What subjects did you enjoy?), her work experience (What are you proud of? What did you learn?) and her voluntary work (Describe what you do?).

The CV writing process was much more enjoyable as she reflected in a positive way about her life and identified her strengths and her transferable skills. And she had the revelation that she enjoyed a subject in school so much, but didn’t see at the time that she could pursue a career in that direction. We explored this further by identifying a part-time course and I’m very pleased to tell you that she recently landed a job in her desired career straight after completing this course.



First published on LinkedIn on 9th November 2016

Photo Credit:Denys Nevozhai through

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