What is the purpose of your CV? – I’ve been thinking about this seemingly obvious question for a long time. I have all sorts of marketing materials: everything from a website, to presentations, brochures and leaflets. But certain types of clients just keep on asking me for my CV.
In the beginning, I couldn’t understand that and thought perhaps I hadn’t been clear or detailed enough on my other marketing collateral. But I realised that some types of clients ask for CVs because it’s the most common and uniform format that can be used to assess someone’s suitability to do a certain job.
It’s also a well-established format that our brains have somehow become wired to read, so force of habit applies here, too. Websites can be muddled, have different tabs, or direct you to other bits of unnecessary information.
Brochures can be beautifully designed, but may lack much-needed clarity of information. We all know what a CV is and this is by far the document we see most frequently over the course of our professional lives.
A CV is a shortcut in the decision-making process. I am not saying it is right or this is the way it should be, but CVs do help us make up our mind about others.
We often write CVs because we feel we have to. We treat it like an ordeal because we know everybody will be asking for it.
And it gets even worse when we realise we’ll be assessed and chosen (or not) on the basis of this short document. With all that in mind, it’s very easy to forget what the ultimate purpose of a CV is: to be chosen.
In short, a CV has to:
• Make the reader read it (attract)
• Impress the reader (impress)
• Persuade the reader that you’re the right person to do the job (persuade)
• Provide all information needed to make a decision (inform)
• Make the reader want to write you an email straight away (call to action)
You also need to consider what you’re trying to achieve with your CV. You may be sending it to get:
• A single freelance project
• Long-term freelance cooperation with an agency
• Freelance cooperation with a direct client
• An in-house translation position
• A multilingual vacancy
You need to adapt your CV with these different opportunities in mind.
It is essential to have a clear and established strategy when writing your CV. Without going into the law of attraction or magical thinking, the purpose helps you stay focused when structuring your CV and makes it easier to decide what to include and what to omit.
I have different CVs for different purposes: a shorter and more concise one for single projects, and a more elaborate one for long-term cooperation. I also have a different version for freelance cooperation to the one I use for direct clients. All this requires a conscious approach to the function and purpose of the CV.
We can’t forget that our CVs are our most basic marketing tool. In my years of experience, I have sent more CVs to potential clients than any other materials.
I realised that my CV is perhaps the strongest marketing tool that I have, and its ultimate purpose is to make my clients choose me. A very important point to remember here and apply in our attitude is to be persuasive but not pleading. Think like a CEO or a director: you’re a professional who provides high-quality services