Why your CV isn’t working for you – and what you can do about it

If your CV really isn’t selling you effectively, here’s a completely different approach.

I see hundreds of CVs from job applicants every week - and there are those that really stand out from the others.

Not because they look better than the others, because it's not all about appearances.

It's just that reading them gives me a real sense of what the person has done, what they’re good at, what they’ve achieved, and what they’re passionate about.

And importantly, what they really want to do in their next role.

To create a CV with a difference, that makes you stand out from the crowd, your opening statement needs to summarise all these points.

And if you’ve struggled to write yours, you’re not alone. We’re not used to blowing our own trumpet or highlighting what we’re good at. In fact you may be struggling to even know what you’re good at.

Putting the hard work into doing this reaps huge benefits. Its the first step to finding a job where all your talents and interests are put to good use - a job you'll feel passionate about.

How to create a strong opening statement

1. Start by starting again

Like the majority of people, you will have started your CV with a template you've downloaded, or you’ve simply updated a CV one you have been using for years.

In starting again, forget the template and everything you've already written – don’t even look at your current CV.

2. Things I’ve loved doing

Start by listing six projects or pieces of work that you have really enjoyed doing. And don’t restrict that to work related projects. Include any personal projects you’ve done or things you’ve helped friends or family with.

3. Exploring and adding in detail

Take the list you’ve created and spend a few hours working on each. Write down step by step what was needed and what you did, going into as much depth as you can remember.

Try to get yourself back in the ‘zone’, the place you were in and remember how you were feeling as you worked on that project. Who else was involved and what feedback did you get?

4. Analyse the stories

These projects will show you where your passion lies – and this is what needs to come across in your CV.

Read through each of the projects and highlight the skills you used and the tasks you really enjoyed doing that could be relevant on your CV.

Talk to people you’ve worked with and ask them to tell you what you’re good at –to remind you of things you’ve worked on and the value you added to the project and the team.

5. Crafting your personal statement

List all of the skills, interests and personal characteristics that you uncovered and put these together in one or two paragraphs.

A quick google search will bring up hundreds of examples of personal statements that you can use for guidance – but just use these for layout ideas – don’t copy someone else’s personal statement – the whole point is to tell your own story!

6. Ask for help

If you’re struggling to write this, you may need some help – and you’re not alone!

Ask a colleague, friend or family member who is good at writing to help you, or get some professional help from a careers coach who is experienced in helping people like you uncover their strengths, their transferable skills and passion - and translate these into a CV that works!


A strong CV ..

… is about good content

… written well

… that describes you

… and is presented well.

It isn’t about filling in a template in a flash!

In my next blog I’ll explain how to summarise your job history in your CV in a way that works.


It’s daunting having to look for a new job - I’ve been in this position myself in the past and I know exactly how it feels. You can’t be - and shouldn't be - sitting in front of your screen, job hunting 8 hours a day. You’ll be exhausted and feeling like you haven't gained any ground.

The good news is: you don’t have to do this on your own, there is an easier, faster and more effective way to do this .. you don’t want to be sitting there six weeks from now, 10x more anxious than you are now, when you could be starting (or have already started) your new job!

If you want a step by step supported plan, more confidence, clarity on what you’re looking for, hope, tools, new skills, advice, and to be properly challenged, then click here for more information on how I can help.

Excerpts from recent testimonials:

"I wanted to say a big thanks to you for your help with my LinkedIn. The re-write and changes have really made a difference in how people connect with me. This week alone I have created seven meetings out of conversations on LinkedIn." (March 2021)

"Bloody hell Cathryn what you’ve done with my CV is amazing – thank you!" - Diana (March 2021)

"Using my new CV and introductory letter I have had 3 positive discussions with Executive Search / Headhunters in the past week alone!" (March 2021)

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