Why is it hard to write a CV? 5 challenges and how to overcome them

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

If you do not feel comfortable or confident writing a CV, be assured that you are not alone. 

Here are five reasons you may be finding it challenging and how to overcome them.

1. Trying to represent so much information in such limited space

With a CV you have a limited amount of space to tell a complete stranger the most important and relevant aspects of what you have done throughout your working life. It’s a daunting prospect.

Don’t be put off.

You don’t have to cover every element of everything that you have ever done. Instead, focus on the experience and qualifications that most strongly relate to the opportunity you are putting your CV forward for. If you can demonstrate the key competencies that have been specified and use clear formatting and structure to ensure that the relevant details are as accessible as possible, then you will create the required level of buy-in and interest from the reader without the need for every last detail of your career to be provided. 

2. Communicating with an unknown person without being able to see, hear or speak to them

When speaking to someone, you have the advantage of being able to pick up on auditory and visual information to gauge how you are being received. You can therefore judge the need to clarify or elaborate on particular details, or move on if you aren't achieving the engagement you are aiming to. With a CV, you don't have those prompts. It can feel like you are communicating blindly.

You’re not.

There are many sources to take cues from when writing or updating a CV. If applying for a particular opportunity then job specifications, descriptions and adverts provide clear insight into what the recipient will be looking for. By researching organisations through their websites and social media platforms you can increase your understanding of their business, values and culture. This all informs you on the details to emphasise and elaborate on in a CV ahead of submitting it.

3. The stakes are high

It is natural to feel pressure and nervous when approaching a CV due to what is at stake. The opportunity you are applying for may have significant implications for both your career and personal life and a CV can play a critical role in how successful your application will ultimately be.

Don’t be overwhelmed.

Focus on the role that a CV will play in the process rather than the implications of being offered or missing out on a job at the end of it. You need your CV to demonstrate enough relevant experience and competency to be considered worth interviewing for the role and to provide the platform from which to be interviewed. You will secure the position through those subsequent stages, not your CV alone so take each step at a time.

4. Selling yourself when it is not in your nature

You will often hear a CV described as an opportunity to sell yourself. But self-promotion may not be in your nature and the thought of doing so actually makes you feel uncomfortable. 

You don’t need to brag or boast to persuade someone of your merits.

The person reading your CV is doing so because they have a requirement and they want to know if you offer them a solution to that need. Stating how fantastic you are won’t carry any weight if they aren’t able to qualify or judge the claim. Therefore focus on giving the reader information about your achievements. Focusing on a factual account including metrics and contexts of demonstrated successes will be far more powerful on a CV and is likely to be more comfortable to produce if you are uneasy with overtly promoting yourself.

5. It feels very personal

Your CV will be read briefly by a stranger who will then judge the value they feel you would, or wouldn’t, bring to their role. It all feels very personal to have your entire worth judged in that way.

It’s not.

Although a great CV can represent a huge amount about you, an initial sift is likely to focus on pertinent headlines and obvious compatibility with a requirement. Whether you are called forward to an interview or not will not be based on your professional worth, how good a person you are or even whether you’d be any good at the job on offer. It will be based on how well the qualifications and experience details in your CV align to what they have identified as their key requirements. Ensure your CV represents you as strongly and accurately as possible, then if not selected, you know that the role was not quite right for you rather than your CV has let you down.

The above points will hopefully give you the confidence to go on and write a great CV. If you still have any questions or concerns though, please don't hesitate to take a look at the free CV advice and professional CV support available through the My CV Guide website.

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