Sunday, 17 March 2013

That's All CVs

So before you e-mail in your neatly word processed résumé, you might want to pause and read this piece before you go ahead.

Don’t Just Write Curriculum Vitae — Build a Reputation

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, you might take for it granted that actions speak louder than curriculum vitae, and it’s down to you to build a reputation that precedes you and attracts business opportunities. Even if you’re looking for a job, the most creative and inspiring employers (i.e. the kind you want to work for) will expect you to be doing the same.

How can you build a reputation that precedes you?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects
  • A sophisticated project an employer can see or touch
  • An online presence that is so compelling that they have no choice but to follow up

One person told me “I’m being invited into agencies because they’ve seen the quality of my thinking on my blog and they know what I’m capable of. The meetings aren’t really interviews, more like friendly discussions about whether I’d be a good fit within the team.” This person was clearly not staying up late fiddling with the formatting on their résumé or rehearsing ‘killer answers to tough interview questions’.

The availability of easy publishing tools on the internet means that some employers will believe there’s really no excuse if you don’t show enough initiative to create a dynamic online presence as a showcase for your work. At the very least, you’ll be competing with people who are doing this.

It doesn’t have to be online. Even better if you can point to a gig, conference or exhibition you’ve put on, a team you’ve led through a successful project, or a product you’ve created and sold.

Whatever it is you want to do for a career, start doing it before you try to land a job. If you want to work as a writer, start writing and publishing. If you want to be a film-maker, make films. If you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a designer, design something and get it built. If you want to be a marketer, sell something or spread an idea that inspires action.

Once you’ve made something that you can point to, you’ll have plenty of confidence going into an interview. You’ll have something interesting to talk about that sets you apart from the other candidates. You’ll be a refreshing change for the interviewers.

Even If You Need a Résumé, Don’t Depend on It

But the company I want to work for says I need to send in a curriculum vita.

Fine. Write the résumé. Make sure it ticks all the boxes. Spell check it, format it and send it in. But whatever you do, don’t rely on it.

Instead, do your research — on the industry, the company, and the people conducting the interview. If an interviewer has a blog or social networking profile(s), this is gold dust. It will give you a window onto their thinking, their likes and dislikes, pet hates and enthusiasms. Checkout this information, not to pander to them, but so that you have some idea who you’re dealing with and how they are likely to respond to you and your work. (But don’t stalk them! Adding them as a Facebook friend the week before the interview is probably a Bad Idea.)

If there is a formal request for applications, read the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. If you’re making a speculative application, then research is even more critical.

I love to hear your story!


  1. Thank you sir for converting those informative and inspiring tweets into a post. God bless you sir.

  2. Good blog post. I want to thank you for interesting and helpful information and I like your point of view. Thank you!
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