[Game show announcer voice]
Welcome to today's episode of 'Should I include this in my CV?'.
Cue Insert cheesy music, aging TV presenter, and an overly enthusiastic audience cheering wildly
The aim of the game is to figure out which items from your experience need to be included on your CV and which need to be cut. Let's start with a quick multiple choice question:
If you could only pick one, which of these is the most important item to include on your CV?
- Your high school results detailed by every subject
- Your first job as a teenager flipping burgers at the local fast food chain
- Your volunteer experience coaching the local under 12s tiddlywinks teams
- None of the above
Tick tick tick tock…
Times up folks. And the scoreboard says….
Ok ok I'm going to stop this fake game show now. Real talk from here. The real talk is that there is no valid answer to that question. Not yet anyway.
Each of those items might actually be very important to include on your CV. As the current list stands we don't have enough information to decide.
When it comes to figuring out which items from your history should go on your CV you need to consider two things: recency and what I'm calling the 'coolness factor'.
The more recent an experience is the more relevant it is. If something is recent it is highly likely you will need to include it on your CV.
Something you did last week will hold much more sway than something you did last year which in turn holds more sway than something you did last decade.
Even if the actual work, industry, role, or company type is almost the opposite of what you are applying for the recency of your experience makes it important.
The cooler your experience is to your potential future employer (or the more interesting it makes you seem to them) the more relevant you become.
Not all of your most recent experience will translate directly to the proposed new job. Sometimes it is the interesting and unique experience from the job before last, or maybe something from deep in your past, that is actually relevant to the job.
The Actual Game (a trick for figuring out what to include in your CV)
I do have an actual game for you. Well, it's more of a trick to help you quickly assess whether something should or should not be included in your next CV.
It's a simple game and it works off a simple formula:
Relevance = recency X coolness
Here's how to play:
Write down the list of things you want to include in your CV.
For each item give it a 'recency score' and a 'coolness score'
Multiply those two numbers together to get overall relevance score.
1 year or less = 10 points
2 years old = 9
10+ years = 1 point
100% interesting, extremely cool, and will make them want to interview you instantly = 10 points
Yawn inducing and will make them question why you even applied = 1 point
When you multiply them together you start to see how it works…
Recent x cool = 100!
Recent x boring = 10
5 years old x cool= 50
5 years old x boring = 5
A decade ago x cool = 10
Recent and cool is an obvious winner. 100 points! Must be included at all costs.
Then something that is only a few years old but extremely cool scores 50 which means it is probably another good choice for inclusion in your CV.
After that things get more interesting. Something that is recent but boring/irrelevant scores the same as something that is a 10 years old but was awesome and relevant.
And both of those are way better than something that is old 5 years old and boring.
This is just a simple logical trick for figuring out whether something is relevant for your CV. You can be as specific and detailed as you want. The important point is that you start including those items that are racking up the relevance score over those that are not.
Another way to use this idea is when you're running out of space on your CV. Remember kids, long CVs do not get read more than a short CV so just jamming in more information or more pages does not help. Instead of that you can use this relevance scoring trick to figure out which items make the cut and which do not.
Only space left for one more item? Should you include that burger flipping job or coaching that tiddlywinks team? Well, now you have a method for deciding: Which one is more relevant?
And this is the crux of the whole message. When you are writing your CV you need to be maximising the relevance. Every item you include should be triple checked that it is actually worthy of the space you are giving it.
Every single item on your CV must be relevant.
How relevant is your CV?