This week, more than many in recent weeks, has been filled with reading, re-writing and advising on CV’s. I guess it shouldn’t do, but it does amaze me just how bad many people’s CV’s are. I have met many talented and quite brilliant people, but when it came to their CV’s you would not recognize almost anything about them, even their photograph’s are often so bad, you would think they belonged to someone else.

If you imagine that you are worth 200KEuro per year, then I think your CV should match your client’s expectations. So what makes a good CV? What is a good CV Worth?

Good CV’s tell a story about a person. They entice the reader into discovering more about the author. Even if the CV might not be a perfect ‘fit’, it should raise enough interest to want a client to meet a candidate anyway. A good CV can make the difference between being pre-selected or not, it gives it’s author the choice between opportunities, it can add at least 20% more to the author’s day rate.

Anyone who has had to review lots of CV’s will tell you that it is a boring job, trying to select from the criteria of a CV only, is very time consuming. Even a strong personal recommendation followed up with a poor CV can often be enough to dissuade a potential client. Last year I had to almost beg a client to see a candidate of mine, knowing he was good but his CV did not do him justice. I said “John, don’t pay the CV any mind, just see him. If you don’t want him after one hour, I’ll buy you an expensive lunch, to compensate for your wasted time.” But this behavior is ridiculous because normally we have all the time in the world to prepare a CV. After all our CV is our passport through our careers. It’s the full length version of our business cards.

I try to always have a full, short and mini CV ready and up to date at all times. Within 15 minutes my full CV is ready to go out the door.

The lay out of a full CV should have your personal contact information at the top (no mention of children’s or pets names please). The contact details should be followed by a very brief (Six lines max) synopsis of who you are and what you are looking for. In short, what added value you can bring to your prospective employer.

Next your CV should have a brief overview of all your major assignments (if you are over 40 or have had many assignments to mention in an overview, just take the last five years). After the overview, your CV needs to cover your employment history in detail. This section should flow nicely and be informative, with each assignment focusing on a different aspect of your skill sets.

Next comes your education, courses, and relevant trainings, then at the end just a little bit about yourself, who you are your hobbies, and perhaps information about your psychometric profile etc.

A note of caution: in some countries/cultures, the use of a photograph on a CV is discouraged. This is to avoid any possible racial discrimination. People can be too easily dissuaded by a photograph and obviously there is a natural bias for a happy, smiling face. But I guess if you want a book-keeper, who will working mainly on their own all day checking account balances, then a Cameron Diaz smile might not be essential?