How to give your CV or Resume a makeover

  • Post published:30/08/2023
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Your resumeYou are wrong if you think the CV or Resume is to get you a job! It’s not.

Here’s the thing you must keep in mind when writing your Resume, also known as your personal marketing pitch.

It’s the interview that leads you to the job (assuming you are interviewing because you want the job).

The real and only purpose of the Resume is to get you an interview.

Headhunter, Tom Sorensen

Important difference between Resume and CV

CV or ResumeYou probably heard the saying: Same Same But Different.

It’s a phrase common in Southeast Asia and quite appropriate to use when trying to explain the concepts of Resume and CV.

CV is from Latin, the language of ancient Rome and its empire, widely used historically as a language of scholarship and administration.

It’s short for Curriculum Vitae, which translated to English means Course of Life. In my world, I call it: Your Life Journey.

The CV is a Career Balance Sheet, a detailed balance sheet as we know it from accounting and finance.

It’s a long very detailed document that can run up to many pages, easily five to ten. A document that does not skip even decimals, a presentation that can stand the toughest of audits.

Your CV should never be shared with anyone. It stays on your personal computer forever but from which you pick the relevant text when creating the all-important personal resume.

Résumé is originally a French word, meaning summary or outline. In other words, the 2-page Resume is what we use to introduce ourselves to executive search firms, recruitment companies or corporate talent acquisition professionals.

How much text do I add to my LinkedIn?

LinkedIn ServiceYour Resume must be a summary of your CV. Max two pages and around 600 words only.

Imagine that you now make a summary of your Resume in one page and 300 words. Then you have an idea how much text you add to your LinkedIn profile.

I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one

Both Michelangelo and Mark Twain – even others – are credited for this statement.

Changing a 5-page CV into a 2-page Resume will likely take you more time than it took to do the 5-page. The big challenge is what to include and what to leave out.

They say recruiters take 7 seconds to read it

Time to change clockYes and no. Let me be more specific.

It takes recruiters seven seconds to skim your profile and then decide if we want to read it. Or perhaps it is not attractive and relevant, so we return it to ATS, the applicant tracking system black hole where it disappears until next time.

The irony is that recruiters and HR professionals do not carefully read all the resumes that have come up in a search or have been received through emails.

The first order of the day is to quickly get rid of all perceived non-qualified candidates. That’s the seven-second rule.

Writing the perfect Resume is a challenge. It’s a time-consuming exercise whilst trying to balance how much you really want to say.

Way too many write a CV of many pages as though it would be used in a Court of Law. No, no, no!

This really upsets recruiters in your Resume

Oh, no waySo what upsets recruiters to the point of disqualifying a resume without a proper review?

  • Just your name but with no address and contact details on top of the page.
  • A photo that does not present you as the nice person I’m sure you are. Even better, drop the photo. We say that photos are only for models and bartenders.
  • Too much text with narrow margins and too little white space around. Stick to two pages and around 600 words.
  • Work periods in the left margin attract too much attention and easily give away job hoppers or more than 10 years in one job. Move the period into the middle and immediately after the position.
  • Use of buzz words like self-motivated, energetic, passionate – but no presentation of proper skills and technical knowledge. Recruiters do not search for soft skills, keep them for the interview, please.
  • Applying for a job without relevant job and industry experience. Was that not a given?
  • New graduates, or candidates on their first ever job, now looking for a CEO job! Kidding me?
  • Showing current compensation which happens to be over the position budget. Or too low which indicates the person is not managerial material. Do not share this info.
  • Wrong education to what is clearly stated as a requirement. Don’t waste our time.
  • Too young, too old.
  • Never worked in Asia but wants a job in Thailand.

Think twice before choosing a resume writer

Resume writerMany so-called professional resume writers charge hundreds to thousands of dollars to write for you.

Funny enough, many are good writers and designers but have never worked as a headhunter or in the recruitment profession.

I often see candidates who have paid a fee to a resume writer and get a great-designed document. The problem is that it may not be ATS (applicant tracking system) compliant.

The ATS is a stupid app that will parse or populate your CV or Resume into software used by recruiters and HR.

But using headers, footers, text boxes, graphs, photos, fancy bullet points – and the list goes on – will make it difficult for the ATS to know what data to put where in the ATS app.

The consequences include that recruiters searching for a name will not find you, because the ATS added your street address in the name field. As one example.

It’s important to use the standard headers such as summary, work experience, and education.

Yes, you could be the next Einstein but the world will never know.

May I repeat, your CV is your detailed career balance sheet but should be your two-page marketing pitch with the purpose of getting an interview.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.