The CV is alive and well, thank you

Last week was typical-I had 4 people ask for help with their CV. All senior, around 25 years work experience, all very smart and polished. None had done a CV in years, hesitant about where to start, length, format, content, buzzwords to put in or avoid. All had a crie de coeur of ‘Aaarrggh, I hate this’, along with angst about writing a CV.

I have been reading articles that the CV is an anachronism, not needed in the day of social media. On-line profiles are more easily updated, interactive, not as linear or limiting as a CV. Which entirely misses the point.

The CV is, without question, a necessity. Accept it. And it should be a bit of a struggle to do well. It is an opus about yourself, written with brevity, allowing someone to skim-not read it-and be able to clearly discern your strengths. A personal haiku, if you will..What could be easier than that? After all, we spend inordinate amounts of time preening on-line, so a CV should be a walk in the park, no? But most people cannot fathom the idea of writing or updating their CV. Absolute anathema.

A good CV (in my humble opinion, which I happen to value highly) takes thought, it ain’t an Instagram. Time (not a huge expenditure), perhaps a bit of teeth gnashing, racking one’s brain to recall some of the accomplishments made earlier on, and putting it in order. A well written CV will show a pattern of YOU.

Not an unbroken one, but a pattern of success-and adversity. It forces one to do what many of us instinctively shy away from-self reflection and self promotion. The CV gives license to politely brag-not the “Me-me, look at me, Ma” sort of sleeve pulling, but to list the things you have managed, grown, saved, contributed, streamlined created, negotiated, influenced, operated, or blown up (I have a slew of ‘em..).All such reflection is important, to think and then write your strengths, read it and try it on for size..

It’s not really about the CV, friend, but rather how you view yourself, and then pen to paper.. That’s more than enough But some decide they’re too busy. Someone last week sent me a CV, stating it was “primitive” as a forewarning. It was quite primitive, and outdated by 2 years. I’m sure he thought “well, better to just send something over, that’ll give him an idea of what I do. It didn’t. It did, albeit primitively. It’s what I call the ‘layer cake’ CV, adding on to the top but never looking at the layers below..You end up with a rat’s nest, not a CV of accomplishments. Would you hire you?

Indulge yourself-rewrite your CV. And if you can’t, my rates are reasonable..

Oh, by the way, no one yet has asked me to help them with their LinkedIn profile. And they shouldn’t; it’s not the same thing at all. Not yet.


Written by Neal Horwitz, President of Henry Hale Maguire


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