Your CV and a Can of Baked Beans

It’s an analogy I use often. What?? Yep …

Your CV is your ‘label’. Just like a can of baked beans has one. You have one.

And it does a similar job. It brands you, positions you, it – in one glance – provides the reader with an impression of what they’re gonna get.

Here’s the job it must do:

1) It must get attention

2) It must convey the impression of quality

3) It must convey the impression of organization and being ‘together’

4) It must provide some backup detail to support the ‘impression’

5) And it must do it all really fast.

Although consumers don’t buy purely on the strength of the label, it does go some way in ‘twisting their arm’.

Your CV needs to do the same as the 4 points above.

THIS … is the Purpose of Your CV

Have you ever been asked by a recruiter for “more information”. You know, besides what’s already in your CV. And it’s frustrating because, I mean, where do you stop? How much is “enough?” You’ve included good solid information in your CV. Isn’t that sufficient?

It is. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if, prior to you being interviewed, the recruiter is asking for “more information” of a general nature – other than what’s on your concise, focussed 2 page CV – the opportunity being offered is not a serious prospect for you. And the recruiter isn’t very experienced.

You’ll have to use your common sense of course. If they ask for specific details, like about your experience with a certain software package, or in a certain niche function of your job, then that may be a different matter. Your experience with the software/function may be a deal breaking/making element for the client, so they have to be sure of your depth of knowledge.

But really, it’s not hard to make a decision on whether to call you in for an interview or not. If you’re qualified for the job and you have the required experience/profile and you’re being clear and concise in your CV and cover letter, then it should be easy. What makes it difficult is if actually you’re NOT suited to the job but because they don’t have anyone suitable they’re hoping that you’ve left some critical details out of your CV.

Yep, asking for more general information perhaps betrays what the recruiter may be thinking …

“this person looks really good, they have 50% of what’s required … maybe they’ve left something important out of their 2 page CV … let me ask for more information.”

But I say, if you don’t fit, you don’t fit. Adding more 2nd or 3rd tier details is not going to swing it.

Now of course you want to indulge recruiters. They have the power, the job opening, the relationship with the client. So sometimes one has to play along and give them what they want. But here’s how I would answer the request for more “general” information –

“sure, when can I come in for an interview to give it to you”

– that’ll test whether there’s real interest or not.

Here’s something interesting written by a US “resume” writer, Robert Parker (, on the topic of what your CV or resume (for these purposes they’re the same thing) is really meant to achieve, what it’s true purpose is:

Your resume is a sales pitch designed to make a prospective employer think you’re worth their time for an interview. That’s all. It’s a single step in the hiring process designed to lead to the next step. Many people mistakenly believe that their resumes must convince a manager that they’ve got what it takes to get the prospective job done.

What he means by “convince a manager” is that from the detail alone the manager can make the final hiring decision. But you don’t get hired off your CV. It’s a powerful tool, sure. It can influence, sure. But it’s not meant to be a detailed biography, and a boring one at that, on your professional life and times with lists and lists of detail. Rather your CV is meant to enable a quick decision, in 30 seconds or even less, to call you in for an interview.

So understand the purpose of your CV. Interviews! And it’s tier 1 detail that gets that for you – qualifications, job titles, achievements, companies worked for, references (can be tricky, so be careful), and job functions (they’ll be scanning for key words). Oh, and of course, it’s all got to be presented concisely, professionally, clearly (that’s my job as a CV writer!)

[Just a memory coming back to me from my recruiting days – after interviewing someone we’d hand over the CV to a typist for typing into the ‘house’ format – we’d always assume that candidates knew nothing about CV writing and we knew everything – and we’d in one foul swoop turn the candidate into the perfect ‘average’. And because the format looked really silly with just a few details, more details were always preferred or the typist would complain. Interesting to see what may be behind the request for “more details.”]


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