How Much Detail do You Need on Your CV?

How much detail in a CV is enough, where does one draw the line? Let’s take an example.

Today, I wrote a CV forĀ  a General Manager in a big manufacturing company. JSE listed, Rkazillions in turnover and revenue. And he’s at the head, responsible for making things work, shareholder value and all that.

So, does he need detail such as:

“Prepared and coordinated the annual budgets on a zero base budget method”

For what he’s aiming at (GM, Managing Director, etc type positions) is that going to help him get where he’s going? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong?

So where do you draw the line in terms of how much detail goes in a CV? A couple of things come to mind:

  1. Is the specific detail really that special? Or is it assumed? Take our GM – budgeting is pretty much an assumed function/skill (especially considering his Financial background). That he applied a certain methodology is perhaps even more un-important. That he did budgeting is unlikely to impress anyone. It’s not going to twist anyone’s arm into calling him in for an interview. Right?
  2. One makes decisions about what to include or not based on what the position being applied for asks for and will ask for in the way of results. Again take the GM. He’s being – no doubt – asked to increase revenue, improve efficiency in service delivery, reduce costs, etc. So really focus has to be on that stuff – how he’s performed those tasks/challenges before. And the results achieved. One doesn’t want to dilute those aspects of the message by detail that may be 2nd or 3rd tier in importance.
  3. Perhaps in the profession knowledge of certain methodologies, practices or legal frameworks IS of critical importance. They’re fundamental to whether you’re a suitable candidate or not. That’s another clue to whether detail should be included or not.

Sometimes in a CV – I see it in my CV writing Clients all the time – the response of the writer is to pack in the detail, sometimes desperately giving the impression that “this little detail may tip the scales in my favour”. But usually it won’t. Recruiters sometimes ask for “more detail” – but if they’re asking that it probably just means they’re not that interested – and instead of saying to you: “you just don’t have what we’re looking for” they ask for more detail.

At times sure they’re just drilling down to confirm you have exactly what their client is looking for. You have to be discerning. But your CV is there to present your best tier 1 detail – “10 Years as GM in a R300ml pa Company; Recent Achievements Include Turning a Division around from a R5ml loss to a R2.1ml Profit; BComm Hons Degree” etc.