Remember those times you were so engrossed in a good read you forgot that you went to bed early as the bedside LED lights glow horrible o'clock? Damn that 8am meeting. Yet you still smile to yourself as you reach for the light switch. These are the books you most enjoy. They're usually written in a style that allows you to clearly visualise what the author wants you to see. The more vivid the picture, the more engaged you are as a reader. You get drawn in. You forget about time.
It may be reaching too far to create quite the same level of captivation with a CV but I am sure that any recruiting manager will tell you that you can get very excited about the prospect of interviewing a good candidate. That excitement will generally have been generated through reading the CV first. Creating a compelling picture is as true for CVs as it is for striking and holding the interest in any other form of written literature.
So how do you create a captivating picture in a CV?
The essence to painting pictures in CVs is by being as specific as possible when describing what you mean. For instance, using selected powerful examples of your achievements implicitly demonstrates your skills and allows the reader to create a much clearer picture of the potential achievements you can provide for them. Here are a couple of examples:
- Consistently beat sales targets year-on-year becomes...
- 2009 - 2011 consistently exceeded 145% of sales target and ranked top 3 of 90 national sales reps Or
- Organised successful major international conference becomes...
in 2011 organised major conference in Cape Town selling over 1500 delegate seats and attracting £150k in corporate sponsorship with commitment for further 3 years The reader only knows what you tell them. So be explicit and descriptive. Your CV is telling a story - so tell it well and you'll grab and maintain the interest of the reader.
But my CV is already too long, surely this will make it even longer?
Not at all. By replacing all those bland bullet points with fewer, more descriptive examples, your CV will become much more powerful. Start from your audience and work backwards - this is the best way of deciding what to write and what to leave out. Yes, you do need to be selective, but think about what message you want the reader to take away with each point then brush with bold strokes and bright colours. By using a bit of imagination you can transform your CV from drab and dreary to bright and cheery. And guess which one will be more satisfying to read?
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