Bright Ideas for CV Content if You’re Starting Out In Your Career

What would you do?

Situation: you’re a volunteer paramedic/trainee, still quite junior, only with basic training, for the last year or so. How can you land a permanent job? (ACTUALLY this is a common scenario with many junior job seekers, so this is for you too.)

What can you do to improve your CV?

Some ideas:

  • Collect and add testimonials from your supervisor, your colleagues, even patients – collect positive comments such as: “Ranti is a positive, skilled, hard working professional.” “Ranti can handle pressure well.” “If there’s a crisis, I’d want Ranti by my side, for sure.”
[If your performance isn’t up to this standard, then work on it. Get it there. Be that great person that everyone likes to work with.]

  • Continue learning – go to the library and read 1 medical book every month. Make notes on it – what did you learn from it, what can you apply in your job. The book could be about first aid, survival, actual medical practice, or even biographies of anyone connected with the medical or emergency field. Put this list of books in your CV. It’ll show how committed you are.
  • Take any opportunity to learn something new – either via a course, or when you work with someone more qualified than you. Learn something, then include it in your CV.
  • Keep a log of incidents you’ve worked on, like a diary. At the end of every day, write a brief description of what you experienced that day, include locations, times, dates. Explain the situation and then explain what your role was in assisting. Put this log in your CV – well, perhaps only include the biggest events (maybe a collection of 10). This again will show thoroughness and passion on your part.
If you’re serious about building a career – in any field – apply this approach. And when you include this stuff in  your CV, you’ll be taken much more seriously, you’ll perform better in interviews, you’ll learn more, you’ll make yourself more valuable to an employer, you’ll seldom struggle to land a job.

What’s Your Personal Brand?

A personal brand is a valuable asset in your job search and career.

Brainstorm this – it should be the thing you ‘shout’ loudest in your CV and in an interview (and when you do you have employers saying: “hey, this is the kind of guy to get on board.”

Personal Brand Questions

  • What are you known for?
  • What do people consistently say about your work?
  • What’s your ‘trademark’ contribution to a team?
  • What threads (quality, nature, money, time value of your work) run through your career?
  • In your department or even industry – why are you a good person to have on board?
  • Why is a team better off with you around?

Spend some time on this. It’s really what it all – getting hired – revolves around. Your personal brand defines the benefits you bring to a business. Your personal brand encapsulates what you bring to the party. Your personal brand is what makes you special, what advantage you deliver.

Then figure out how you can tell more people your message. And how you can incorporate it into your existing CV, resume, cover letters, interviews.

Is NOT Having a Degree REALLY Holding You Back in Your Career?

This is a topic close to my heart –

(as someone who has no degree, but who has addressed MBA students at UCT Graduate School of Business; as someone with a basic matric, but who has been invited as guest speaker addressing Professors and Heads of Department at for eg. Central University of Technology; as someone with no formal training, but who has been quoted in Business Day, Financial Mail and other illustrious media)

– and it shatters a myth that keeps people low, hopeless and accepting of mediocrity, when more is possible, sooner than they think. It’s a piece by Steve Chandler:

 Credentials were vital in the old world—the world of my father and mother.

You’d apply for a job and people would say, “Where did you get your degree?” or “What’s your degree in?”

“Alcoholism,” I would say.  “Bankruptcy and divorce.”

And you know what?  They didn’t care.

Oh, they weren’t exactly happy with my credentials.  But they moved quickly to the next question-the question they really wanted to ask—-“Can you help us?”

Yes, I think so, or at least let’s do a pilot seminar, a trial workshop and find out.  I ended up training more than 20 Fortune 500 companies that way and a couple hundred smaller businesses, schools and organizations.

Not because of my credentials.  But because I could help.  I could serve.

That’s good news for all of us today.  It’s no longer who you know or what your credentials are, now it’s WHAT YOU CAN DO!

This allows you to build your skills and deepen your professional strength any way you like.  It’s all online now.  What do you want to learn how to do?  It’s all right there.

A woman client told me not long ago in subdued, breathy tones (the kind of voice reserved for the most sacred stories of suffering and victimization, stories that have formed the helpless robot), “I am sad that I never had the education that I should have had.  Not being given that educational advantage, my ability to get a high-paying job has been limited.”

And I could hear the hushed reverence in her voice as she described the tenets of her victim religion.  It was deeply personal for her, and the fact that she was “sharing” her weakness with me was an example of how “authentic” she had learned to be.

Except for one little thing.  One flaw in the presentation:  it was all nonsense.  She could have learned anything any time including now.  This now, yes.  This very minute inside this very day today.

People hire you today because of what you can do.

[Of course when entering the job market with any qualification or experience, but especially if you have no degree, etc, you HAVE TO present yourself more powerfully, aggressively and in a smart, focussed way. Your CV, for eg. has to be hard hitting. Contact me about helping you with yours, I’m at gerardlr [at]


Why You Should and How to Track (and Shout-Out) Your Value

Yesterday I said you should just do one thing right. The next thing. This is how to cope with a bad situation at work. Just do the next thing right. Do it well. And feel satisfied.

How to Build on This

But now … build on that. How? Track all the good things you do. Record them. Write them down. Keep a journal of things you did well and felt satisfied by.

Whether you’re CEO or a cleaner, this applies. Track how you ‘did good’. This will serve to bolster your own confidence and self-belief (in a job crisis this frequently takes a big knock). And why not make your record public?? Create a showcase for your good work. To demonstrate you’re a valuable resource.

How to do This?

How? Start a blog. It’s free at Or at

If you’re a PA … – where you highlight how you make a difference every day for your employer. Come new job time, all you have to do to differentiate yourself from your competition is direct an employer to your blog.

If you’re in Sales you can share your techniques for winning trust, making presentations and some successes – what you did right to secure the deal.

If you’re in customer service – you can keep a record of all your tough customers, how you pacified them and how you turned a negative situation positive. Instead of moaning about it you jot down your thoughts for your blog. Your blog will “shout-out” your expertise.

The benefits? You’ll come across as serious about your career. You’ll come across as professional (yeah, the blog is NOT for holiday pics and trivialities). You’ll come across as a total expert. You can list links to journals/websites and other blogs that position you brilliantly: link to CNN, New York Post or job specific sites like

This is a good idea. Do it.

Self Promotion May Scare or Repel You. 3 Ideas and an Example to Help You.

Is self promotion, y’know, something that scares you or repels you – is it something you avoid?

“I increased sales by 67% in one year” “I was voted Mr Most Valuable, 2008”

When you’re applying for a job, writing your CV or cover letter – do you find it difficult to, um, ‘blow your own horn’? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Would you rather fly under the radar, under promise and over deliver? Does that make you feel more honorable?

This is a problem area for most of us. Personality types differ. Maybe you find it easy. Maybe you don’t. But it’s got to be done (see why later). So … perhaps there’s a way of looking at it and a way of doing it that’s easier and acceptable for all? Lets examine.

A New Way of Looking at It?

Do you know that you’re actually doing everyone a disservice by not coming out and telling people what you achieved? Let’s take a case in point. One client this week, for example:

In 2009 he’s reduced overheads by 25%, he’s established 6 new business units in the last 3 years, he’s referred to by some as a “cost cutting master”

None of this is on his CV; all he had is, like, “I was Chief Operating Officer” with a bunch of boring “duties”.

A new employer wants more, needs more, to make a smart hiring decision – or even just to call the guy in for an interview. Sure he needs to know WHAT the guy does. But as important is this:

He needs to know if the guy is any good at what he does!

And it’s not a case of being obnoxious: “I’m so great! I’m the best! I’m better than … all the rest!” No. Humility is a valuable and very attractive quality – the opposite of the “I’m the best” message. But you can still promote yourself AND be humble.

Here Are 3 tips on How to do This

  • Keep things factual – use figures and statistics where possible. The opposite of “fact” is “fluff”. Fluff means no substance, just claims. It’s hype and hot air.
  • Tell a little story – which allows a bit more than just “I’m the best!” – see example below.
  • Make it visible – it’s important to give it the spotlight, include some strategic achievements in an opening profile or executive summary section.

Here’s an example:

Faced chaotic, non-compliant, backlogged Finance department, but with long hours and good teamwork was able to achieve a “clear” audit and up-to-date situation within 6 months.

That’s a nice achievement – let’s analyse it.

  • There are facts: “clear audit”, “up-to-date situation within 6 months” – these are verifyable facts, so it’s credible and believable.
  • It’s not pompous: “with team cooperation” suggests it wasn’t all “me”. And the reader gets the message that this guy can get things done, motivate and drive a team effectively, even when under pressure.
  • It tells a story – problem faced, action taken, good result: humans love little stories, so it makes the CV more readable and interesting.

It’s the easiest thing in the world for an employer to find a Manager, or whoever. But to find one who can: reduce overheads by 12% within 3 months, motivate a team to exceed sales targets by 17%, improve efficiency by 25% in 3 months, etc – that’s a much harder task.

So don’t make the task more difficult by hiding achievements away – just because you’re not comfortable with it. You’re not doing anyone any favours. Show your quality. Help the employer to see it. Help yourself.

What’s YOUR opinion on thisdo you include achievements? do you find it difficult or repulsive? do you want my opinion on your achievements – write it, post it and get my opinion by clicking the “Leave a Comment” link under the title.