Big RocksIs your CV scoring goals or are you just running down the clock? In creating or updating CVs, here’s why so many don’t even make the starting line up.

If you watch football, you’ll know that it’s impossible these days to see a match on TV without being bombarded with statistics telling you about the very game you are watching. A frequently cited statistic is the amount of ball possession each team has had. First of all, why does the viewer need to know this? If we are watching the match, we know which team has secured and held the ball most of the time or whether there has been generally an even level of possession. But more importantly, why does it matter? What is the relevance of your team having 90% of the ball if the score is 2-0 to the opposition?

One of the things we get asked to do frequently here at red10 is to review the quality and impact of people’s CVs and funnily enough, the question just posed has a lot to offer the commonest error we see in the CVs that come our way.

Making a CV too long is a common mistake, but it is what people make them too long with that is the problem. Filling the page with descriptions of past duties and the requirements of the roles you have held is all information about what you have spent your time doing. In other words, you are describing the time you’ve spent holding the ball.

What is the point of filling 90% of the page with what you spent your time doing if you didn’t actually achieve anything?

Put yourself in the position of the person screening the CV or your would-be interviewer. Are they really trying to find someone who can manage to hold down a job or are they looking for someone who has had an impact and made a difference for their organisation? Of course it’s the latter. The impact you have had elsewhere and the differences you’ve made hold some promise of what you might do in the future. Simply learning that you are capable of finding ways to fill your day isn’t likely to inspire your hirer.

Don’t think inputs, think outcomes. What was the outcome of all your efforts and duties? Start your descriptions with the end you achieved in mind. So instead of:

‘Led project team to bring about efficiency measures during restructuring of division’,

How about

‘Cut costs by 35% through creation of innovative efficiency processes’.

Instead of

‘Spent time working on compliance working party to increase standards of compliance’,

How about

‘Increased levels of compliance from 75% – 85% as a key contributor to compliance working party’.


So most importantly, think outcomes and achievements and stay concise – don’t ramble.

And whilst ŵe are on the subject, don’t forget the basics. Check your spelling (there really is no excuse), account for gaps and be prepared to answer questions on anything you choose to include.

Finally, keep the main focus on your current role / the last five years. You may well remain proud of your 50 metres swimming certificate or that your school mates voted you the person most likely to win ‘The Apprentice’ but, (unless you did), you need to move on.