Improving your CV by pressing Delete

You’ve probably read more articles about how to write a CV and there is good advice out there. It is sometimes difficult to apply this to your own CV. I know, because over the years I have helped hundreds of people to create a CV that will land on the “Yes pile”.

 I regard myself as a bit of a recruitment geek and love reading up on recent research and development in Human Resources and Recruitment.

In the beginning of my career as a job coach I would give each new client a copy of my special folder with the best advice regarding CV writing. I would then find out that my client didn’t read the material. Fortunately for my clients nowadays I don’t drown them in information anymore, as I’ve learned that in most cases it was not helping them.

What I do tell all my clients is that the only purpose of your CV (or application form or online portfolio) is to get you a job interview.

 Imagine you being the person who received that CV together with 10, 20, but more likely 100 other CV’s. And now imagine your CV for a second as part of a pile of A4’s. Will you go through that pile of paper word for word or will you skim read it?

There are different reports out there on the average time someone spends reading a CV, but you and I will probably agree it is not very long. So then the advice is to tailor your CV to the vacancy, to make it interesting, to stand out from the rest of the CV’s so that you will be contacted for a job interview.

A good coach can help you unlock the words to do exactly that. But if you just want to change one thing, pick up your current CV and just look at the first half of the first page. Does it say “(I am) an enthusiastic, hardworking person”, does it say “I am committed to every job I do”, does it say “I work well as part of a team, as well as on my own”?

Just delete those words. What if 10 or 20 or more of those CV’s use the exact same wording? Would that make a person want to read the rest of that one CV? No, it will just distract the person and that CV might end up in the bin.

You might want to tell me “But the rest of my Personal Profile and CV are tailored to the job, I give evidence of my skills later on”. Too late, because the next CV is there, right there underneath yours. Next!

So look at your CV and take those words out, because they do not help you stand out. They will not help you get a job interview. And that’s the only purpose of your CV.


First published on LinkedIn on 2nd November 2016

Photo credit: Bench Accounting through

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.