Is a traditional CV not as impactful anymore? - James Caan

Mon, 17/09/2012 - 15:51 -- nick

Making an impression at an interview is a great step towards getting a job, but first you have to make an impression with your CV. So if your CV is dull, full of mistakes or doesn’t tell a story about you, then you’ll be overlooked and won’t even get as far as an interview anyway.

With this in mind, some people say that traditional CVs aren’t impactful and need to be jazzed up or made more visual so that they stand out.

Well, let’s take a look. The so-called traditional CV or résumé is text-based, clearly laid out and follows a classic structure, name at the top, references at the bottom, etc and it shouldn’t be more than two pages at the most.

Now, with all the online technology we have at our disposal, you can  create a fantastic, ‘visual’ interactive online CV that includes all your professional information as videos, images, diagrams and links to websites.

So, which way do you go?

Well, sorry to tell you this, but dressing up a dull CV with visual effects and references won’t make you necessarily stand out – a good employer will always see through the bells and whistles and take a look at the content. I always tell people, that the most important thing is to make sure you tailor it to the job you are applying for.

In short, you’ve got to get your CV story right to begin with. Have you put in only relevant information, is it up to date, does it tell what you have done – and what you can do. Does it suggest what potential you have. Is it clear, concise, engaging?

Once you’ve got this right, your CV will probably stand out as good on its own merits. Only then should you think about making it more visually engaging. You can use graphics, videos and images to support and ehance the story that’s already there.  In other words, you are enhancing the content  to make a good CV even better and more impactful.

Personally, I don’t think we’re at the stage yet where the text-based CV is outmoded. I think it will be around for a long time yet. So for most of the jobs you go for in certain sectors such as law, accountancy, HR, manufacturing, financial services, admin or charity you really don’t have to worry about making your CV a visual blockbuster.

There are exceptions to the rules, however. In certain industries creativity is part of the game.  For example if you were applying for positions in graphic design, advertising, social media, marketing, film, TV and art-direction, your CV is being looked at by people who understand ‘where you’re coming from’.  So you should demonstrate your creativity and make sure your use of colour, font styles and images are ‘current’.

In general you don’t need to worry unnecessarily about your CV being visually striking.  As I’ve said, it’s still early days for the creative CV and for the vast majority of jobs you go for it won’t be relevant.