Life Lessons: Writing a CV

How to talk your way into your dream job.

Over the next few weeks second years will think about internships, third years will actually apply for them and about five lucky people on campus will end up with a proper job for after they graduate. Whichever category you come under, there is no escaping the fact that you’ll need to be able to sell yourself like a Kensington call girl in order to stand out from the mob of identical 2:1 streetwalkers. But the corporate world isn’t all about lipstick and low cut tops: the first step to pimping yourself out is to produce a CV which makes HR departments salivate.

The Tone: Remember that dick at school who thought he was the best at everything and spent so long talking about himself that you started to believe him? That’s what you’re looking for here. If you re-read it and think that it sounds like you have a ramrod shoved up your derriere then you’re probably on the right lines. If you’re English you might be so wrapped up in your own self deprecation that you find this difficult to pull off; I find it a lot easier if I grit my teeth and pretend to be American for an hour or so. It’s not ‘I contributed to the team…’ it’s ‘I LED the team, saving them from certain catastrophic failure.’

"The design teams at Amstrad have always inspired me"

The Cover Letter: Do your research guys, for heavens sake. This is your opportunity to get creative and prove that you know your stuff. They say that employers only look at each CV for two minutes, so why not include a relevant yet challenging crossword to make sure that they spend longer on your one? Alternatively, if your cut ‘n’ stick skills are up to it, a pop up display illustrating your love of the company is sure to impress.

Your Contact Details: Any employer worth their salt will discard CVs based on email addresses. [email protected] or [email protected] (probably) won’t win anybody over. This is an opportunity for subliminal messages- try [email protected] or if you’re looking for an accountancy job, [email protected] will go down well.

Education Details: Everyone has a degree these days so unless you’ve got a first you need to market yourself carefully here. Using a graph to show academic achievements over time could be useful if you’re one of those people who bombed all their GCSEs- your productivity can only continue to increase, right?  DO NOT include your primary school unless Ofsted described it as ‘life threatening’, in which case you can play the ‘I came from the ghetto and made it good’ card. Rags to riches is so hot right now.

Employment History: Use jargon to convince the reader that you held a position which required a high level of skill and responsibilty. Working behind the bar a few times a week becomes ‘flammable liquids retailer’ and doing basic admin work becomes ‘data input co-ordinator’. You get the idea.   

A fellow high flyer.

Extras: Scrape the barrel for anything and everything, and link whatever tenuous achievements you can drag up from your wasted youth with a ‘transferable skill’. So you went to hockey training once? That’s being part of a team, being competitive, being organised (you managed to turn up) and of course being social (you went out afterwards). White collar middle managers love this type of thing in the same way that pigs love muck. Bearing this in mind, if you were lucky enough to spend two months using your parent’s credit card to exploit locals and get drunk on a beach in Thailand, you have a potential goldmine for showing off your ‘independence’ and ‘social awareness’.   

General Buzzwords: Sprinkle these liberally throughout. Resourcefulness, leadership, presentation skills, confident, organised, active, love a challenge, determined, passionate, negotiate, teamwork, communication skills, high achiever, competent, original, hardworking, enthusiastic etc etc. Add a ‘highly’ or ‘extremely’ at every opportunity, this will earn you a triple word score.  

Finishing Touches: Print on heavy paper, spray with expensive scent to disguise the smell of bullshit then seal with wax. Prepare for interview.

Licking envelopes is for proles.


More Life Lessons can be found here and here.