The death of the CV – I was wrong

The death of the CV – I was wrong

By Martin Ellis


OK. I woz wrong. CV’s won’t be replaced by LinkedIn profiles. Technology isn’t going to change that anytime soon. It will change everything eventually, but not today. And not tomorrow.

The trouble is, people keep producing CV’s as though they’re written on parchment and they’re not taking into account that:

  1. They’re read on a computer screen, or….
  2. They’re read by a machine.

It’s very clear that way too many candidates betray a lack of awareness about how to market themselves – and that loses them vital Brownie Points in the scramble for their next role.

It’s also true that LinkedIn has changed the context into how CV’s are read. Even the most prehistoric employers will now check you out on LinkedIn and Facebook where you may be showing a bit more of your personality (or lack of it). I’d say you can be a little bolder in the use of tone and pace – and while we’re at it, writing a CV in the third person is a no-no. Thou minds as well wearing doublets and hose…..

The Way to a CV in 2017

Some of this advice is repetition (but generally still ignored by most job hunters – including those who are most desperate). I’ve written about it all before, but clearly, people need to know, and it needs an update. It’s a bit like getting my youngest to hold a knife properly. I just need to nag until it becomes a habit.

This is all simple stuff. I have a template I’m willing to share with anybody who asks nicely. Just email me at

  • Your CV is no longer a paper document. It’ll be read on a screen (see the shot above), so you need to get enough info on the first screen to tempt the reader to scroll down. I don’t care about your full address, nor your date of birth, nor that you’re married with 2.4 children. Just your name at the top, and one line including your hometown and your contact details. DON’T WASTE VALUABLE DISPLAY SPACE WITH USELESS NONSENSE.
  • Aim for 2 pages. If it slips to 3, that’s fine, but if you have 4 or more you’re telling the world you don’t know how to communicate with simple brevity. Don’t tell me you have a long career. I have 46 years on 2 pages surrounded by plenty of artistic white space.
  • The layout is critical. Don’t move the margins to the edge so you can squeeze more words in. And don’t use a tiny wee font. I immediately know you’re somebody who loves, and gets lost in, detail. The order is:
  1. Personal Statement – 5 lines of thoughtful and original copy by the person who knows you best of all. You.
  2. Skills – Your 5 or 6 top skills. Just say what they are. Don’t justify them.
  3. Recent Career Highlights – 6 or so from the recent past. Quantify and date them. Nothing floppy and nice you can’t prove.
  4. Career – Most recent first and just a few brief lines about what you achieved. I SAID BRIEF!!!!!!! Don’t bother going into great detail about jobs more than 20 years ago. It’s too long ago to matter.
  5. Education and Qualifications – that can include school, college/uni and work. You are still learning, right? You need to show you’re keeping your skills up to date.
  6. DON’T put “Interests” – way too dull. Favourites or Bucket List is better. Yes, I know that’s not what most people put, but you’re here trying to get noticed and get an interview. And don’t fret that it’s taking a risk. Get real. It’s nothing of the sort.

Choose a deliberate font. No (that’s the little flicky bits at the end of each character letter). You immediately look like you’re a child of the 50’s, and even the children of the 50’s want to give that a body swerve. Best would be something like Calibri or Trebuchet.

Choose a deliberate tone or voice. Imagine a specific person you’d like to impress. Think about your audience. This is an important piece of sales and marketing communication. Think also what you say about yourself on your social networks. There needs to be some consistency here.

Think about Keywords and Phrases. It’s likely a machine will read your CV so make sure your CV is peppered with lots of keywords and phrases that people might use to search for somebody like you. This is really important. Make the machines do your dirty work for you.

I know there’s CV advice everywhere. I also know that you’ll get different and conflicting advice depending on you’re talking to.

You can ignore this, but if you’re carrying on as you have done for so many years, you’re just making your job search harder than you need to.

Sorry to preach, but some candidates need conversion.

Martin is the Headhunter at the RSE Group. Bless him.



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