I read an article the other day where an agency recruiter talked about the importance of formatting CVs correctly; no mistakes – otherwise you risk being rejected, particularly if the position requires specific attention to detail.

The article went on to say that although it’s your responsibility to make sure your CV is error-free, that particular agency actually re-wrote and re-formatted them anyway, so it didn’t really matter what you did.

That made no sense to me.

We don’t re-write or re-format CVs: we give them to clients just as they are.

(We do prepare a summary cover sheet which highlights everything that’s important, as well as answering any questions the CV might prompt.) 

You might be wondering why don’t we rewrite or reformat them.  It’s simple, and not because we are lazy.

For most people, their own CV is probably the most important document they will ever write; there’s a reason it’s called a Curriculum Vitae. So, let’s see how well they do it. 

Why would I presume that I can write someone’s life story better than they can do it themselves?

Writing a CV is an opportunity to tell the world exactly what you are all about – your work experience, your education, hobbies and interests, your skills and ambitions and so on.

What we don’t need to know about is how much you weigh, how tall you are, whether you belong to a frequent flier scheme or the names of your relatives.

Save that for social media.

Back to my topic: what’s the purpose of a CV? 

In my view, it’s a snapshot of who you are.  It certainly isn’t the whole picture – nothing apart from you in person can do that – but it is a guide as to what you’re all about.

From the experiences that have shaped you, to what you can deliver in the future – this is the point of a CV.  And remember that it can never be the whole story; the CV gets you the interview, and the interview gets you the job.

Would you really entrust something as important as that to someone you barely know? And simply so that they can make it a bit more palatable to their client?

What tends to happen when a recruiter rewrites many CVs is that they all start to sound – as well as looking – the same. 

Don’t let that happen to you.  Your Curriculum Vitae is YOUR story and it should present you the way that YOU want it to.  (Oh, and don’t forget to keep careful track of where it’s going…)

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.  He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via woollacott@hortoninternational.comm