As a child of the 1980s, Flash Gordon was my favourite film.
Earth under threat. The alien world of Mongo. And a hero who saves the day.
Flash Gordon may not have won any Oscars, but it was a simple story.
Like many good films, there was drama, the main character and his achievements.
(His greatest achievement – saving planet Earth. Imagine being able to write his CV.)
A CV might be the last place you expect to read a story. But, a story approach can boost your CV.
The Power of Story-Telling
Stories are one of the oldest types of communications. From cave drawings and folk tales, right through to blockbuster movies and YouTube videos. We love stories in all of their forms.
We use the latest technologies to capture and tell stories but the essence of them is the same.
Stories are a perfect way to communicate an idea or a message.
Also a good story always has memorable characters.
That’s why it makes sense to craft your CV as the story of you. You can see the different sections of a CV as the different parts of a film.
Before we see a film, we’re teased by the trailer.
Trailers are expertly crafted to whet our appetite. They give us glimpses into the story, the characters and the action. Our imaginations fill in the gaps and increase our anticipation.
In your CV, your ‘Profile’ is the trailer.
These few short sentences, give the reader a clear image of the main character (that’s you!) Along with your strengths, your achievements and your capabilities.
Whilst your ‘Profile’ will be one of the shortest sections in your CV, it’s the first one that will be read.
The aim of the ‘Profile’ is to draw the reviewer into the rest of the CV. If they don’t like the ‘Profile’ they may not read the rest of the CV.
Films need an audience.
In the case of a CV, it’s the recruiter who will read your CV.
You need to tailor your CV to the recruiter, as a film is tailored to the audience.
What’s important to the recruiter?
You should tailor your CV to each job you apply for. Even if you apply for similar jobs in the same field. There’ll be subtle differences in the skills or experience that they’re looking for.
Also, consider the language used by the organisation you target. If the job description uses different words to describe what you’ve already written, amend your CV to reflect that.
The more you adapt your CV, the greater chance you’ll have.
There are many different scenes in a film. However, each of them has been crafted by the director to build the story.
In your CV, each achievement in your ‘Career History’ is like a scene. It’s a self-contained example of what you did and what you achieved.
But it’s also part of the bigger picture. Put the scenes together and they describe that part of your career.
All brilliant stories contain drama, conflict and action. Now, these aren’t things you’ll normally be told to include in your CV. But there is a place for them when you write about the achievements in your career.
I would not suggest that anyone writes about personality conflicts or the drama of office politics!
However, when you achieve a worthwhile result, it’s often against the odds. The fact that it’s an achievement means it wasn’t something easily done.
So, when you write about your career achievements, recall the problem you overcame, the negative outcome you avoided, the action you took and what the results were.
Credits are not the most exciting part of the film. Unless you’re a film buff.
Most people leave the cinema or turn over the channel as soon as they appear.
However, they’re essential to the creation of the film.
That’s why they remind me of the personal/contact details in your CV.
Yes, they’re important. But, you don’t want them to get in the way of the story.
Record them, make sure they’re accurate and quickly move on to the main event.
The Director’s Cut
You’re the director of your CV.
You choose what to include and what to leave out.
However, this doesn’t just apply when it’s written. Reviewing and editing are equally important.
Once your CV is written, put it to one side for a couple of days. Then take your time to review and edit your CV.
It won’t be perfect when you first write it. So read it critically and look for where you can improve the wording:
- Remove words and phrases that are redundant.
- Focus on the highlights of your career. Make sure these are crystal clear.
- Each achievement should add something to the story of you.
- Avoid causing confusion to the reader – clarify any unclear parts of your career history.
Flash Gordon tells a vivid story with clear characters.
In the same way, your CV should tell the story of your career.
Your ‘Profile’ summarises you, the main character. It should entice the reviewer into your CV to read more.
The ‘Career History’ allows you to describe events from your career which showcase what you achieved. When you adapt your CV to each job you increase its appeal to the reviewer.
Finally, whilst the content of the story is key, remember to allow time to review and edit the final version.
You don’t have to be Flash Gordon to use your CV as the film of your career.
What lessons have you learnt that you can apply to your CV?