Jonathan Blain is a Bestselling Author and Thought Leader, a Job Hunting and Career problem Solving Expert.
In 2007 / 2008 the wheels fell off my previously highly successful and high flying career. I found myself out of work, with no income, in an increasing desperate situation.
Through a synchronistic sequence of events, I became an executive level CV writer, for a leading international firm of executive level CV writers, and wrote 500+ CVs / Resumes.
The firm that I worked for, offered a free CV / Resume review service, where people could submit their CVs for constructive review. I am sure you can imagine the results of most, if not all critiques: “your CV could be better, or it is terrible”. Once your confidence was undermined, it is a similar thing as going to a doctor who tells you are not well, and that he or she has the cure you need; it is difficult to say "no thank you". It is also rare that you will go to another doctor, and ask for another opinion, unless the consequences of the proposed cure are major, like" we need to cut your leg off". The reason that generally speaking, we believe what doctors tell us, and why we usually take the treatment they propose, is down to the fact, that we accept they are a professional in their area; they have been to medical school, studied for years and years, passed a load of really tough exams; and quite frankly know a lot more than us, a non-professional / non-expert.
If you need a CV rewritten, it is logical to think about going to an expert / doctor equivalent, someone who is a professional, who knows how to write a CV better than you. If your car breaks down, unless you are a mechanic, you’ll probably take it to garage and get a mechanic who knows what they are doing to fix it. It is common sense really isn’t it. Where I believe that CV writing is different from going to a doctor to cure an illness or a qualified, skilled and experienced mechanic to fix your car, is the fact that generally speaking medicine is largely about science, and being a mechanic is about engineering, and an understanding of physics, which is ultimately a science also. In contrast, CV writing is subjective, I honestly don’t believe there is one right way to write a CV, there are multiple right ways. If you took 1000 professional CV / Resume writers, and gave them the same brief for a single CV, I believe you would get 1000 different versions. Of course there could be many similarities, but the chance of any two being identical is realistically nil. Out of all those different versions, which is best and which is worst? If you got a 1000 employers to rank them, you’d come up with 1000 different answers.
I am sure you get the point, it is a little bit like the concept of “beauty being in the eye of the beholder”. I believe that writing a CV, is actually “part art and part science”. What is right is what works, the proof is in the pudding. The term “the proof is in the pudding” was supposedly used in the old days, which means you have to eat the pudding to know what's inside it. You can write a CV, but until you use it, you won’t know whether it works – therefore, the proof is in the pudding. That is the truth.
Your CV document comprises of two key elements:
Looked at another way, you could describe the substance of what you have to offer, as things like your knowledge, skills, experience, qualifications, track record of achievement, personality, character, attitude etc. as “The Message”, and the CV document itself, which could include things like the appearance, length, language, layout / structure, font, spelling etc. as “The Messenger”.
Success comes from the strength of both the Message and The Messenger. Ask any marketer, and they will tell you that there are very many sub-standard or on par products, that do extremely well due to good marketing, but equally some products won’t sell, no matter how good the marketing, or how good or bad the product is, if it isn’t what customers want. The same is true of employers, you could be a fantastic person, but if you are not what they want, you are unlikely to get offered the job. You have to make sure that are what they want.
The commonly held view, is that your CV / Resume is “all about you”. After seven years of research, study, trials and testing, and a huge amount of experience in sales, marketing, recruiting and employing, I came to realise that this view is not true. Whilst your CV / Resume is obviously about you, it is also about the employer, and what they want and need, and what they value, and about how they make decisions. Your prospective employer is your customer, your CV is being written to serve them, as much as it is to serve you. All employers will have differences.
Employers want the best person for them, not necessarily the best person, although the two may be the same.
If you want to be totally honest about CV writing, there isn’t one layout and structure that is best for all employers. The way most professional CV writers work, is that they have a favoured CV structure / template, and simply replace one person’s details with another person’s. The “Messenger” remains the same, it is just the “Message” that changes. Many large CV writing firms are like a factory, processing people's message into their messenger.
I don’t want to knock professional CV / Resume writers who I think largely do a great job, I’ve been one. I am driven by a very deep desire, to help people turn CV Failure into Success if that is what they have experienced, or success into even greater success, or if they haven’t yet started, I want to help them to short cut to the very best approach, that will maximise their chance of success.
When you become massively results focussed, when you care more than anyone else about the results that you get for other people, and have higher expectations for them than anyone else, like I have; you want to do the very best for them, and help them in the very best way possible. I believe the best way of doing that, is to share the secrets that I have taken so long to discover and figure out, and to be honest and truthful about how things really are in the real world.
There is way more to CV writing than most people imagine, if you focus on getting the results you really want, I feel focussing on just “the messenger” the CV document and not on “ the message” e.g. the proposition of what you have to offer as well, which is what most professional CV writers do, is missing an opportunity. It is actually about more than that; taking it to the highest level which I do, means factoring in what employers really want and need and how they make decisions. That involves both doing research, and the need to metaphorically try and put yourself in their hiring influencer's and decision maker's shoes, and trying to imagine how they might see things from their perspective, what they might value and relate to. You need to apply both imagination and judgement, using your intuition, knowledge and experience. It is all about doing the best you can with what you’ve got, knowing your true authentic self and the value that you can deliver to others, and adopting a servant mind set and genuinely caring about employers.
I can help you to do all these things, but I don’t feel I can do it without you. I believe there are some things in life that you need to be deeply involved in, and writing your CV is one of those things.
I’d be lying if I said to you, let me write your CV and it will be the best ever, firstly that would be arrogant and I am not arrogant, it would also be based on the belief that there is just one right way and I don’t believe there is, I think there are many best ways. That is why I don’t want to write your CV for you. I just want to offer to work with you, and provide you with 100% honesty, 100% commitment to do the very best for you, and a very genuine heartfelt desire, to offer you the best advice, support and help, that will make the biggest difference to you.
Ultimately you need to make the judgements, use your imagination, knowledge and insights, and understanding of both yourself, and the employers / jobs / roles you want.
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