Good Candidate, Bad CV?

Sometimes, you get a really good candidate who has a bad CV. And by bad CV, I mean it’s waffly, it’s over-long, it’s vague… and it’s not because the candidate isn’t trying. Not everyone can sell themselves with confidence. Not everyone is practiced in writing CVs.

You also have bad candidates with great CVs. They can trip recruiters up.

Here’s a quadrant to have the management consultants salivating…

Where would you plot yourself? Imagining, for a second, that you are applying for the job you’re in at the moment.

Most people just aren’t very good at writing CVs. It’s a fact.

After all, how much practice have you had? Doubtless you’ll only ever have worked on your own, at a stretch your partner’s. And how often do you update it? Once a year or every other year?

No, it’s not something we practice regularly, nor do we have many CVs to compare it with. It’s not as if you can just ask everyone for their CVs so you can compare.

So here’s the issue with CVs. You’re never sure if it’s any good, or even what good looks like. You don’t have time to practice writing a CV, and you’re probably using the same Canva template as everyone else. Yikes.

Selling yourself is hard. Writing a CV is even harder. Plot yourself on the quadrant above, and you’ll mostly be plotting yourselves in the good at job / bad at CV quadrant.

How do you get yourself into that top-right quadrant? Three things.

Here’s what you came for:

  • Write an absolutely amazing opening statement
    And by absolutely amazing, I mean: tell me in no more than 150 words why you’re amazing at what this role entails. Keep it crisp, concise, free from business bullshit lingo, and factual. That’s all.

    For instance:

    I am a senior DTC marketer with over 8 years’ experience in paid social marketing across e-commerce and B2C organisations. I am looking for a fresh challenge where I can lead a team and have a significant impact through performance marketing. With over £100m in revenue generated from our campaigns at a ROAS of x8, I know that I can bring not just positive results, but a positive, can-do attitude and a determination to continually improve.

    Damn, if I saw that, I’d be on the phone immediately. I’m calling myself now, in fact.

    What does this statement do? It establishes experience, expertise, ambition, results & character. All in less than 150 words.
  • Tell me your KPIs
    Who doesn’t love a KPI? If you’re reading this, it’s odds-on you’re a marketer. And if you’re a marketer, you’ve got numbers coming out of your ears.

    One of the best CVs I’ve received over the last year came from a young American girl who led with her achievements. I had serious CV-envy.

    So bullet-point your achievements for every role, or create an achievements section on your CV. Make it quick and easy to read – no fluff.
  • Be ruthless, cut stuff out that’s not relevant
    You’re marketers, right. So you know that relevance is super important?

    If it’s not relevant to the application, don’t include it. Nobody really cares about career breaks and the dates you weren’t working. And if you’ve been working for ten years, why include the dates you were working in a bar while studying?

    Marisa Mayer famously cut her CV down to one page (allegedly, apparently, maybe someone did it for LinkedIn fame, but it’s still a good story). If you were to do this, what could you lose?

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers get a lot of CVs. In some cases, a very lot.

So make it easy. Remember those three points: statement, KPIs, ruthlessness.

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