How to overcome the biggest problem you face when writing your CV

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The Biggest Problem to overcome when writing your CV

"What's this big problem?" I hear you say; "there are loads of problems to overcome when writing your CV".

You'd be right, of course.

Where do we begin?

Time for a start - there's always something better to do than write a CV (not in my case, of course).

Choosing a design, there's another.

Remembering all the dates.  Yes, that's tricky.

What to do with awkward gaps in your career history, or how to explain that job you really should not have taken, in retrospect?

Is it a good idea to state salary details?  Should I give reasons for leaving?  Is it a good idea to list hobbies?  

The list goes on.

However, the biggest problem to overcome when writing a CV is identifying what it is that will really make YOU stand out from the crowds of other people applying for the jobs you want.

Let's just remind ourselves what it is that really makes a great CV: it's your career Achievements.  

I explain the importance of achievements in another BLOG "It's the sizzle that sells the sausage". Check it out. It's awesome.

But the difficulty I want to discuss here is this: how do I even know what my Achievements are?

Why is this a problem? Well for most of us the first challenge can be one's natural modesty, darling.  If you are British you have probably been taught that bragging is vulgar, it's not the done thing.  This is where our cousins across the pond have a cultural advantage over us.  "Bigging yourself up" comes naturally to many Americans and it is almost culturally unacceptable NOT to do it.  

We have all  come across people to whom "selling themself" comes really naturally.  But if I take my existing clients as a sample, most people adopt a natural modesty.

The other reason that identifying your achievements can prove difficult is that for many people they do not recognise that the things they do at work are not only important enough to include in their CV but that they are in fact remarkable. Yes, they have always achieved their sales targets.  Yes, they saved the company a shed load of money.  Yes, the programme they designed transformed the way that sproggets are manufactured.

"But that's what I'm paid to do!", is their refrain.

This isn't a case of modesty, this is a case failing to recognise your true worth.  And I don't like it.

So, when you are looking to identify your Achievements what should you do?

Here are my tips:

Get a piece of paper and list all of your jobs.

For each job, ask yourself the following questions: and write down the answers:

  • What was my proudest achievement?
  • What do I feel good about when I think back on that role?
  • What won me that promotion?
  • What were the areas of expertise that I was known for in that business?
  • What earned me a pat on the back?
  • What did I do to earn that bonus?

Wherever possible attach numbers to those answers. Percentage increases, pound notes, numbers of people.  Numbers = evidence.

The answers to these questions ARE your Achievements.​

To make this even easier find yourself a CV buddy: sit down with a nice glass of wine with a friend, partner or colleague and ask them to put these questions to you and write down your responses.

You then use these Achievements to really "sell" yourself in your CV.

So, get cracking.

There is an even easier way, of course. Get me to do it for you.

When I write a CV I conduct a Career Mapping Interview that is focused upon identifying those special achievements that make you stand out from your competition in the job market.

It's friendly, fun and thorough. It takes about an hour for most people.

Clients are amazed at what I discover, and even more amazed to see how I use it in their new CV.

If you like my advice on CV Writing, LinkedIn and successful Job Interviews please tell your friends.  If you don't, please keep it to yourself. 

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