advanced CV topics

Is your stage dressed to kill?

Is your stage dressed to kill?

Let’s change the word “stage” in the title of this post to “curriculum vitae”. A one size fits all curriculum vitae no longer makes the cut when you apply for a job. Recruiters and other people assessing your curriculum vitae tend to be very busy. Their workload can be such that they don’t have the time to fully read your curriculum vitae. In less than 30 seconds they decide where your CV goes…….You need to prepare for that “treatment”. Time and time again. So, how do you do that?
One way I explain this to my clients is by comparing a curriculum vitae to a stage:

Setting the stage for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is quite different from preparing for the spectacular show KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil. If you want the audience (recruiters, HR people and other staffing folks) to see what’s on stage (your CV), you need proper lighting. While there may be more props (content) present on the stage, you need to balance the stage design and select what the audience will see. You can do this by using spotlights. So, you need to carefully arrange your props (write your content) in such a way that they will fulfill the expectations your audience has (match the requirements for the job you’re applying for). You then use spotlights (keywords) to highlight relevant props (parts of your career history) so that they align with what the audience is expecting. At the same time, you dim the lights on props that have no function in what goes on on stage. You want the audience to recognize the stage design so that the audience is drawn into the performance the minute the curtain opens.
In other words, you expand and summarize sections of your work history as appropriate for the job you are applying for and make sure that relevant keywords are in place to facilitate scanning of your CV so that you will make the cut and get an invitation for a job interview. That way, your stage will be dressed to kill.
If your “general” CV is the theme, you write a variation every time you apply for a job. Theme and variations has worked well in music for hundreds of years, it will work equally well for your curriculum vitae.

5 Tell tale signs why your resume is out of fashion


Many people continue to use one and the same resumé  year after year. A document that was created (very) long ago, updated from time to time by adding a new address or telephone number and a new position. Why? Fact is that about 80% of all people struggle with their resumés. They are not good at selling themselves, they are not skilled in writing resumés  they hate writing resumés and sometimes laziness prevents them from writing a crisp, modern resumé  They ask themselves: Why should I? Why change my resumé  everything that should be there is in there, so why bother? Well, don’t underestimate the importance of having a decent resumé or CV. It can and will make the difference in getting you an invitation for a job interview –or not. In this post I will give you 5 telltale signs to help you figure out if your resumé needs a makeover:

1. Your Resume Contains an Obsolete Objective

“I am looking for a senior management role where I can use my managerial experience and strategic skills to manage marketing and sales operations” Yawn. To put it bluntly: Employers don’t care what you want. The employer wants a solution for his “problem” and he hopes to find that solution in your resumé. “Client-focused senior sales manager”. That’s you! Writing that makes a more powerful impression, that’s something that could catch that employer’s attention.

2. There’s (a lot of) Corporate Speak and/or Complicated Language in Your Resume

Many old-fashioned resumés contain formal language and corporate language that not everybody understands. An example: “ensuring correct and JIT-fulfillment of the order flow so that the logistical performance is optimized according to pre-set KPI’s”. Translation: “making sure that correct processing of orders leads to timely delivery to customers”. Use clear language, write short lines (use bullet points) and don’t copy formal job descriptions. 

3. There Are Listings of Tasks and Responsibilities in Your Resume Instead of Results and Accomplishments

In many resumés one finds endless listings of formal tasks and responsibilities. They read like job descriptions. Try this: use a few lines to summarize your (main) tasks and beef up your resumé by listing your accomplishments or results, including numbers and/or percentages. That will give a far better picture of what you are capable of and beats job descriptions. Your resumé should tell your personal story.

4. The Lay-out of Your Resume is Inadequate

The font Times New Roman is very classic. Your resumé will look better if you use more modern fonts like Arial, Calibri or Tahoma. Also make sure, that the lay-out is consistent, don’t use two different fonts in your resumé and make sure that the variation in font size (headings vs. text) is the same throughout. Make sure that the overall lay-out is such that it is easy to scan and read your resumé, make use of white space. Modest use of color is fine, but be careful with it and ask yourself if that is appropriate in your industry or in your profession.

5. Your Resume Goes Back a Long Time

As we progress through our careers, we add to our employment history. It isn’t always necessary to prominently describe the role you fulfilled back in 1985. No doubt the industry in which you worked then, has changed. You have changed too. What matters for many employers is your recent (say, the last 10 years) employment history. Besides, you can do so much more now than you could do in 1985. So, it is okay to summarize positions you held a long time ago and to briefly describe highlights. Modern resumés put more emphasis on roles and results and de-emphasize early career experiences (or list them in a “minimalistic”  way).

In the end, a good and powerful resumé is the end result of a subtle combination of many elements such as content, style, lay-out and presentation. I hope that you can use these signals to –if you need to, of course- give your resume a facelift.

Rob van Zoelen