There are two types of CV. There’s the here’s-a-list-of-jobs- I’ve-had kind that is essential for a straight job application. And then there’s the altogether more interesting kind: the one that sums you up as a businesswoman. Akin to a mini biography, they’re a more persuasive format for a pitch document or business plan when you’re bidding for a contract, going for funding, or securing an opportunity like a speaking engagement or network membership. Here are my 12 fail-safe rules on how to create one:
1. Keep it simple
This is purely a statement of who you are: your professional identity, your biggest achievements, and your professional back story.
2. Stick with 'CV'
I prefer to stick with the traditional ‘CV’ as a heading, but if your audience is very international, call it a resumé, if you must.
Present yourself in paragraphs, running copy and with sparse use of bullet points.
4. A good opener
Open with a winning statement that sums up your professional status and why you’re an exciting proposition right now: “...is an award-winning marketing professional with an eight year track record of game-changing strategies and proven results.”
5. Shout about it
Don’t shy away from shouting about all of your achievements and media recognition and the awards you have in your trophy cabinet. Be proud of them.
6. Write like an obituary (really)
Summarise your past experience as you might want to read it in an obituary (truly!) so that it tells a story of how you’ve become the business person that you are today. So mine would explain how 10 years as a journalist on women’s magazines, plus eight more in marketing and advertising, then seven years of entrepreneurship adds up to a fair understanding of what it takes to launch, build and market a business aimed at women.
7. Keep it simple
Avoid a list of dates and roles (and every exam you ever took) at all costs, instead grouping similar experiences and projects.
8. Look at dates
In your mind (or in a note to yourself) make sure that your history adds up. It’s one thing not to list the detail in date order, another to fudge and fumble it if questioned. Lost years and inconsistencies never look good.
9. Use the third person
Use the third person: “Sarah Jones is...” (not “I am…”). It suggests you’re important enough to have someone represent you.
10. Be Brief
One page is plenty.
11. Skip the hobbies
And the full-clean-driving-licence part. Not relevant, unless you run ultramarathons or speak five different languages.
12. Spell Check!
Typos are just insane. Spell check again and again.
Picture credit: Rex Features