How To Write A Great CV or Résumé


Courtesy of - guidance and direction


It is important
to ensure that
you only send
messages -
that reinforce
what you are
saying about
your strengths
and your

Section 3 - Hidden Messages

What are you saying about yourself by the way that you say it?

The way that you express yourself is actually sending a subliminal message along with any factual information.

I am not talking about body language or the tone of your voice - although that is one way that you send hidden messages. However, your choice of words and the way that you construct your written documents also says a great deal more about you than you may think. Whether you are writing a CV, a Résumé or letter of introduction - how you describe your capabilities is also telling a potential employer about your character and personality.

For instance, if you describe yourself as someone who takes the trouble to get things right, but then present your job application in a disorganised or sloppy manner- which will be believed? - your actions or your words?

Or, perhaps you are portraying yourself as someone with an assertive and direct manner and who would be capable of a supervisory role. If your words are full of excuses or criticisms about what you had to work with, then you aren't demonstrating that you readily accept responsibility. Rather, that you are more likely to look to someone else to resolve your problems or pass the buck on to.

There are also some things that are better left untold - anything which is derogatory to someone else or anything that indicates any form of bad relationship with anybody, no matter who was to blame. You might be a totally innocent party to someone else's misdeeds, but there will be a connection made between you and something which is a negative characteristic. You do not want to portray any possibility that "you don't get on with people", or that you are a "victim" in any way. These are negative impressions and will not enhance your employment prospects.

No matter how good you are at a particular job, employers like people who get on well with others, because they are less likely to have "employee issues" to deal with.

Excerpt from a job enquiry

I signed up with xxxxx over three years ago and they kept routing my callers to other psychics, so I quit. I also heard many people being cheated by yyyyy, no sense in working when not being paid...
I was wondering if there are any jobs available for psychics on your line..."

The first words written were criticisms of other businesses. The first impression was all negative - the problems she'd had and concerns she might have about getting paid. There was nothing about what she had to offer. Straight up, the sublimal message was that she would be too much trouble!

It is important to ensure that you only send positive messages, that reinforce what you are saying about your strengths and your capabilities.







Life coaching advice


Every sentence
you write
can be
in value
the right
Adding Value

Every sentence you write in your job application can be increased in value towards making the right impression.

You can simply state a fact or you can make the sentence work harder for you and add your personality and work values to it. The point being that you can also give a positive impression of you as a person, employee or colleague as well as the mere facts that you have qualifications and experience in a particular field.

Compare these 2 statements:

"I worked at a burger chain serving up meals to customers and clearing tables."


"I worked for a year at a burger chain delivering good service to customers. Whether it was in serving up a meal or in maintaining a clean dining area, I learned a great deal about catering in general and enjoyed the interaction with customers."

The first statement may be factual, but there is no indication of what your work ethic is - did you drag yourself in reluctantly for your shift, avoided work as much as possible and couldn't wait for the end of the day in order to "escape"? Or were you a willing worker that got on well with colleagues and customers and learned and grew on the job?

The second statement, however, says much more about your attitudes and abilities - the impression it gives is that you:

  • were a willing worker,
  • applied yourself to whatever task was required,
  • took notice of the other activities around you,
  • learned new skills,
  • interacted with customers in a positive way,
  • would probably be an asset in roles where you were "front of house" and therefore encourage customers to buy more.

Which job applicant has already set some preferences in their favour, in the mind of the person reading their application? It may be the smallest difference, but one which might mean that your application goes through to the next round in preference to the other.

Let's look at the statements in more detail and understand the hidden messages in each component.

"I worked for a year at a burger chain ..

You reinforced that you worked at this job for a year. Considering this is likely to be a low-paid job in an industry with high staff turnover, you are demonstrating a level of commitment and also satisfaction by your employers.


.... delivering good service to customers......

You have a concept of a value system called "Good Service". This is a boon in any industry, but especially those with direct dealings with customers.


.... Whether it was in serving up a meal or in maintaining a clean dining area,....

You served up meals and cleaned tables, but you are also showing that you have a concept of another value system called "Cleanliness" and you are "results" focused - the emphasis being put on the end result of a clean dining area i.e. you did what had to be done to achieve the desired outcome.


... I learned a great deal about catering in general...

Even though your main focus was on waiting on table, this shows that you paid attention to the whole operation of the business and therefore learned much more in the process.


... and enjoyed the interaction with customers...

When someone enjoys their work, they put more energy into it. It also shows that you have a rapport with people and would likely suit other roles where you were directly involved with customers.

You can see just how much more you can get out of a couple of sentences by "value adding" with appropriate key words that represent positive characteristics or value systems.

It is similar in approach to that used by advertising, where certain concepts and values in the viewer are invoked as they read. The reviewer makes a sub-conscious connection between what is fact and what is their own judgement and comes to a conclusion which is more than the sum of the parts that you have written down.

Be careful, however, that when you are value adding your own CV or Résumé, that the end result doesn't look or sound like an advert or marketing campaign. You should aim to get your message across in a natural way and avoid anything that seems false or contrived.

Practical Exercise

Get out your latest CV or Résumé and read how you have described yourself and the jobs that you have done.

See how you can re-phrase each description, each job activity in a way that sends positive messages about your abilities. See if you can "value add" your own words.

This is a good exercise to do in pairs, especially with someone who doesn't know you very well. After you have re-written a section, get the other person to read it and tell you their first impression.