What Makes a Good CV?

What makes a good CV – you may have wondered about yours, right? So, do you want a kind of a ‘blueprint’? The whole job hunting and CV writing thing is so infuriating, right!? 😞

So, here, do this, step by step:

  • Check the job ad you’re applying to. Follow that script. The things that appear in the ad – they’re the priorities. They’re what needs to stand out in your CV.
  • Take note of how many years experience are required. What particular skills needed are mentioned? What technology skills are needed? What specialist knowledge is asked for?

What makes a good CV is when you align your CV with those things.

So, look at your CV. ➤ Is it aligned with the ad? ➤ Do the list of 5 or 10 requirements you see in the ad really jump out at you from your CV?

The fact is: you can have a fancy CV. You may have spent hours on it. It can be “ATS” friendly. But if you don’t immediately appear to be the 👉 exact solution 👈 the employer is looking for, it’ll be difficult to advance through the filtering process.

At the early stages of the hiring process, your CV is filtered by software. And by more junior staff. And often with a kind of ‘tick-box’ mentality. This means that unless you tick all the boxes, you’re out! You may be the best person for the job (by far)… but because you don’t have a degree, you’re out. You’re the best person for the job… but because you don’t know a certain software package (that can be learned in a few hours)… you’re out.

It’s ridiculous. But it’s the way it is 😞. Aligning your CV however is something you have control over. When you ask: “what makes a good CV”? The above is a big part of the answer.

Need help: let’s chat about the problems you’re having. Let’s get on a call for 10 minutes and I’ll give you some advice. It could be helpful. Whatsapp me on +27 83 744 5454.

CV Success… but with a warning

Just got this from a professional CV writing client:

“Gerard, all I can say is that the last 3 times my CV was done by you ,
I landed cool jobs! Thanks for all your help!”

Nice. But there’s a WARNING. Job hunting is complicated. There are so many factors that have to come together to make them choose you. A lot of it is out of your control. A great CV can do great things. But it doesn’t always. Enlist a professional CV writer, and it’ll definitely help you. But there’s more to it than just that.

Zoom Interview? Go for Broke.

“I have an interview next week!” my client said. “It’s on Zoom. How do I make the most of it??” So, here’s what I said.

Well, first, what I didn’t tell him – I should have – was this: be neat, be organised, have your tech act together – test it, be sure it’s working – be well groomed, don’t have an skew or ugly picture on the wall behind you, sit up straight, position your camera so that you’re in the upper centre of the picture, look at the camera when you’re speaking (not at yourself), have your docs ready on your clean and clear desktop.

Now, the client is in sales. And the position he’s applying for is in a totally new industry in which he has interest only, not experience.

So, first I told him this (some of it you may find useful in principle):

1) Spend the next week getting to know the company products and the company itself.

What are the products? Who uses them?  Why do they like them? What problems have they had, what complaints (Google it)? What are the competitor products? What are the goals and values of the company?

Speak to company clients (seriously – you’re doing some ‘market research’, just be straight: you’re prepping for an interview): How would they rate the company service? When last did they get a visit from the sales rep? What problems do they foresee with the products in the future? What could be improved?

2) Then, I told him this: formulate a 3-month business plan.

What’s the goal of the job? What are the key things that need to be done to achieve it? What obstacles are there? How would you deal with them? What would your goal be for month 1, month 2?

In the interview itself, just at the point where the small talk and ice-breakers are tailing off, you want to ask: “right, so within the first 3 months, what do you want to see from the person you hire?” If they manage to get a question like “tell me about yourself?” in, answer it with some filler in 30 seconds, and then ask the above question.

If they “um” and “err”, tell them straight: “I’ve done some research. And I’ve formulated a 3 month business plan. Can I present it to you, real quick? Present it. And end off by saying, “those are my ideas… no doubt you have your expectations and ways of doing things… but I thought I’d just demonstrate to you that I like to get stuck in and make things happen.” And then if you have real spirit, ask this: “okay, what else do I need to do to get an offer from you? what else would you like to know?”

How this fits with the D [IS] R U2 PT principles:

This approach fits with the “D” of my D [IS] R U2 PT job search principles. “D” stands for DISRUPT – yes, differentiate yourself, do what no-one else will do, shake up the traditional approach. Don’t be like a typical job hunter: a deer staring into the headlights, frozen, sitting silent, waiting for the tough, awkward questions, never really coming out and saying: “hire me, here’s why”.

But of course, no one approach works all the time. So, why not just go for broke?

Hopefully this helps you get better results – ie more job interviews, more job offers, more often.


You know Steve Martin as an actor. But he has another side. Check it out here:

“Mood is Your Greatest Asset,” he Said

“Mood is your greatest asset.” True or False? In your job search – as in most things in life – that’s true. You may have skills. Degrees. Profound knowledge. But if you’re down on yourself, pessimistic; if you find yourself always looking for why something ‘won’t work’… then your results will be poor.

Hard to keep it upbeat, though, right? Lockdown. The economy. Here’s what you need: creative ideas. Fresh thinking on where job opportunities may exist. Fresh ideas on how to present yourself, what to say, how to say it. A fresh feeling of confidence and boldness – the courage to do what you gotta do to get yourself out of a hole.

Here’s ssomething to help you. See attached. It’s something written by John Kehoe (the “Mind Power” guy). With my added comments, specially for job hunters (lookout for the bit about pitbulls biting your bum! and the global conspiracy to keep YOU – yes, YOU – out of work.

Next week, I’ll be analysing my CV writing principles. It’s called the [D IS R U2 PT]. It’s meant to help you shake things up. And get better results – ie more job interviews, more job offers, more often.

Adam Leipzig – “How to know your life purpose in under 2 minutes.” Ignore the clickbait title. BUT. It’s still an incredibly useful video. In under 2 minutes. Better title: “How to articulate what you do in a clear, compelling way” – useful for job interviews, CVs and LinkedIn profiles.

[Job Search Success Newsletter | June 18 2020]

Free CV Review Online – the “CRO”

Hey, perhaps you’re interested in a free CV review online because you just want to make sure? You want to know that you’ve built your CV ‘proper’ and it’s gonna work?!

Okay, so if that’s what you need, great! It’s a good idea to consider the following points – you’ll find more tools and detail over here, but these are the foundation principles as a quick-check.

I call it the “CRO” – use it you’ll have to eat it!

Here’s Your Free CV Review Online:

Review each point. Compare your CV. Learn. Adapt.

1 Keep it short – 2 pages perhaps? Short is confident. Short is easy to read and absorb. Chop older experience, summarise it.

2 Name it with your sought job title: “Joe Soap – Sales Rep Achieves Targets”. Yes, add some zing! Or just “Jack Soap – Senior Accountant”. Clear focus is important to the reader.

3 Be relevant. Immediately. State clearly at the top what job you fill, what your profession is. State your credibility immediately: years of experience, key qualifications, key outcomes you achieve. The reader must immediately see where you fit in.

4 Under your job history, use an easily recognizable and understandable job title. Give a quick 2 line summary of what you cared for and what outcomes you were responsible for.

5 Don’t include long lists of ‘duties and responsibilities’. Make it 3 or 4 lines only. Concentrate it on critical items only.

6 Be very sure to focus on how you fixed things, what goals you achieved, what problems you solved. “Here was the problem / here’s what I did to solve it / here’s the result we got.” Be specific, include statistics!

7 Eliminate long paragraphs. Chop them down to 2 or 3 lines at the most. These are more easily digestible. Easier to read.

8 Did your CEO, MD or senior manager say: “Joe (you!) does great work, he really made a difference!” Include that quote in the CV! A CV must build trust. This is one way to do it.

9 Have you made any stupid mistakes?? Spelling? Grammar? Do your best to clean things up. It shows something about you.

10 Keep focus on recent work. Start with your latest position.

How did you do on your free CV review online, here at wowcv.net?

Still confused, unsure about your CV? This stuff can really make you tear your hair out!! If you’re still struggling, send your CV to me, perhaps we can have a chat about ways to improve?

Also see the dedicated page: CV Check Online for more details on all of the above. Hope this helps!


PS ALSO link with me on Facebook: www.FB.com/kickassjobsearch


Quick Idea to ‘Kickass’ Your CV

Quick idea to ‘kickass’ your CV: Include as many statistics as you can.

Numbers get attention. It’s human psychology, it loves numbers. Why?

  1. they catch the eye, add interest;
  2. give a sense of “this person measures performance… they are focused on getting great results, fixing things”;
  3. they build trust, you make yourself stand out.

WHAT TO DO WITH THIS: look at your CV, at your last job – any stats?? You don’t have to make a science of it. But for e.g. if you sped up a process significantly, don’t say “significantly”, that’s weak. Rather say, “by 75%” (it’s a geuss-timate, but that’s okay as long as it’s more or less true.)

Share this with someone who needs it.

More ideas here: www.facebook.com/kickassjobsearch

A Great CV, in a Nutshell. 3 Points.

Just wrote this to a prospective client in Australia:

My philosophy regarding CVs is to present you as a ‘solution’. So instead of early focus on ‘personal details’ and then career history, focus is squarely on where you fit into an organisation and what you can be trusted to achieve.

The rest of the CV then backs that central theme up, providing statistics, facts, details, even what your Managers / Directors / Colleagues say about your work (good stuff only, of course!)

I keep it brief. Info must be easy to scan and absorb. An employer must see, not just another job hunter, but a solution, someone poised to come in and deliver a definite set of outcomes & benefits.

What would you add?

Warning to my CV Writing Clients

Just amended my CV Writing Service info. Added this…



This is for your protection. And mine.

If you’re looking for a traditional / old-school CV – 10 (or even 5!) pages long, a cover page with a clip-art image of two people shaking hands on it with your name in big bold type and enveloped in scrolls … if you’re looking for a CV that begins with your “Personal Details” followed by your “Secondary School Details” … a CV that has long lists of your “Duties and Responsibilities” … then let me be clear, my service is NOT for you.

However … IF you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone a little, if you feel it’s time to ‘push the envelope’ in your efforts to market yourself, if you’re willing to take a bolder, fresher, more to the point approach in which you distinguish yourself (in a competitive and cluttered job market, not a bad idea!); IF you view yourself as a ‘business’; IF you want to present yourself as a ‘business solution’ to a company (whether you’re a PA or CEO) in just 2 or 3 pages (international standard)…

… THEN you’re the kind of person I LOVE dealing with. You’re the
reason I do what I do. And together we’ll get great results.


Really, no-one (no employer) wants long. No-one wants boring. No-one wants long lists. They want hard-hitting value. Relevant to their needs.

If your CV focuses strongly on your best achievements, your best qualifications & skills, your best qualities AND translates them clearly into value / benefits for the employer…

THEN adding long lists of minutae is unlikely to do anything other than bloat & confuse and fragment attention of the reader. You want a few main points (your best), hammered home hard. If a few points (your best) – hammered home hard – don’t make the impact you need, NO list of minute details is gonna help.

Combatting Job Hunt Stress & Overwhelm (and how I lost the skin off my feet)

Are you the kind of job hunter who – like me – struggles to focus on anything but the problem at hand. Do you get overwhelmed by the job hunt … you’re anxious … everything suffers – health, relationships, kids, personal growth, sleep?

And this at a time when you really need to be at your best. To be strong, confident, bold, bright. (For job interviews, etc)

Keeping yourself ‘together’ during a challenge is hard. It’s easy to feel like this one problem has taken over one’s life. But one has to realise that you’re better equipped to cope and to smash the problem when you’re feeling strong, together.

A few years ago there was a show on TV called EcoChallenge. It was created by the Survivor guy, Mark Burnett. Basically teams of 4 race cross country, on foot mostly, to an end point. It takes elite teams 3 or 4 days, others it takes 10 days.

In one race, 2 teams were neck-and-neck. One stopped to sleep, just for an hour or two. The other didn’t. It made all the difference. While the non-sleep team stumbled around exhausted toward the end of the race, the other team quietly & steadily overtook them. And won.

The lesson? There are certain things that keep us as humans, ‘together’. Sleep, good nutrition, exercise, positive relationships, positive thoughts (an incomplete list). When we neglect them, we pay! Performance suffers. Results suffer. We suffer.

So, pay attention to this stuff. Plan your week. Keep timeslots open for walks, exercise; eat healthy; take time to think of the good things in your life; be kind.

Just this week I’ve added a new resource to the Get a Job Fast programme. It’s called “6 Secrets to Staying Strong when Facing the Job Hunting Fire.” When you join for just R75 you get it as well as a bunch of good guidance aimed at helping you ‘get a job fast.’

[If you want to become a member, you can download the application form here: www.careerandsuccess.info; or if you’d like me to e-mail it to you, I’m at gerard@careerandsuccess.info.]

Personal thought of the week:

Made a huge mistake yesterday. My daughter (11) and I have been running, and I’ve been running barefoot (there’s a whole barefoot running trend and I figured it’d help my squash and toughen up my feet since I’m in the office all day).

But yesterday was around 30 degrees C. It was 5pm. The road was hot. But I didn’t think much about it. So now I have these massive flaps of loose skin / blisters on my feet. My wife says it’s what I deserve for being so stupid. Maybe she’s right. The lesson: I’ll learn from my mistake. The painful lesson is useful.

In a job hunt often we make the same mistakes over and over. Like thinking recruiters/agencies are really interested in us. It’s not a mistake to use them. It’s a mistake to have that strategy as your MAIN strategy. You’ll get burned.

Share your thoughts here:


This Could be Your Edge in a Cluttered Job Market

Perhaps this could be the “edge” you’re looking for in your job search. The thing that differentiates you from the crowd.

With it you’ll make a better impression. You’ll help yourself stand out. You’ll show that you’re not just a qualification + skills – you have the spirit, attitude and mindset to produce more, to achieve more, to be of more value in a business.

What is it? Learning.

On the one hand, it can be a R150 000 MBA. On the other hand it can be a free online course or just a book.

Here are some ideas that can be free (and ideas on how to use them):

* You read a book. Think library, 2nd hand bookshop, or $0.00 ebooks from Amazon.com – read them on your Kindle for Android / mobile phone or Kindle for PC – both free.

* You read a book, then write a blog post about what you learned. Your blog is free, hosted at wordpress.com, you have a link to it in your CV and on your LinkedIn.com page.

* You read a book, then develop a “5 Step” strategy to apply what you learn in your work environment, you track the results. You put it in your CV – “My 5 Step Strategy for Motivating People”

This way you SHOW an employer you’re not just a backside on an expensive ergonomicly correct seat. You’re there to make a difference. To help produce results. To help the enterprise improve.

[Many, many of my CV writing clients say they read books. Some say, “I read 5 business books every month.” Okay. Good. But what have you learned? What have you applied? What have you put to work? What results have come as a result? What difference has it made to your performance, to your value to your employer, to your value as a little one-man business?

Everybody’s read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. But what’s more interesting is this: how has it made you more effective, more efficient, more valuable?]

  • You can take a free course, like full diploma courses on www.alison.com
  • You can read blogs of experts in your field of work. You can comment & participate.
  • You can read trade/industry magazines. You notice trends. You have an opinion.

Learning does not = university, college, certificates only. It’s an approach to life. An attitude. It reveals a person who always wants to improve. And when what’s learned is APPLIED (put to work in achieving measurable results), then it becomes a major differentiator  in your job search (iow: it makes you look better than other applicants, set to land more job interviews, more job offers.)

Learning can make the older look young and fresh. And can make the young look wise. And not just “look”, rather actually be: “young and fresh” and “wise”.

Note: within my member’s only website – Career and Success –  is a Library of books and guides, on career and improvement topics (including “Think and Grow Rich.”)

The main program of learning in it is “Get a Job Fast”.  Becoming a member is R75. Go to here to get the application form:  www.careerandsuccess.info.