The Marketing approach to CV writing

It is often said that writing a CV is all about ‘selling yourself’. Well I disagree. It’s about much more than that.

As a professional Marketer I would suggest that job seeking is much more like a marketing strategy than a sales process. This is because you have some key decisions to make in terms of who you target (the employers to whom you send your CV), how you describe yourself and what you do to make sure that you have the right experience to write about.

So, a marketing approach that goes beyond just ‘selling yourself’ is the most appropriate.

Done well, this will prevent you from falling into the trap of using clichés, such as ‘hard working’, ‘reliable’, ‘team-player’.

Instead, the techniques that have been developed for the marketing of products, services, companies and brands should be applied to the marketing of your most important asset – you!

Rather than just a job application, what you should be cultivating is your own ‘personal brand’.

These techniques work because they have been refined over a long period of time as the best means to create value, determine the target audience and then communicate with them in the right way, about the right things, and with credibility.

SO HOW WOULD I ADVISE using the marketing approach?

Firstly, whilst the intended result is a ‘sale’, or in other words, a job offer, you have to work in a sophisticated way. Think about your job search as more of a marketing strategy than a sales campaign.

A key theme of marketing strategy is ‘Positioning’. This means understanding how you are perceived in relation to your ‘competitors’ i.e. the other candidates.

You have to position yourself as the expert that the employer is looking for, and do this to a greater extent than the other applicants. If you don’t have all of that expertise, then you need to work on developing it.

Once you have decided that you do have the expertise, then you should begin planning and writing. Find out about what the employer wants and values. To do this, look at the ‘Person Specification’ provided in the advert or as part of the job description. Then match up your knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience.

It really is as simple as that. The only way to ensure that you get selected in place of the other applicants is to give the best examples of your abilities in relation to everything that is on the person specification.

Different skills are relevant to different jobs, and whilst you may be proud of certain things that you have achieved, you need to translate them in a way that the target employer finds valuable. All achievements are useful in demonstrating commitment, skill and all kinds of other attributes, but you have to prioritise the right ones to communicate.

To fully adopt the marketing approach, what I suggest is that you make sure every line of your CV conveys your value. You do this by questioning the importance of every line that you have written. Anything that doesn’t communicate something positive, valuable and relevant about you can probably be cut. Be careful with this because some things that you think are not relevant will probably be relevant if you communicate them in a different way. For example, excellence in sport can demonstrate the commitment and self-discipline that is highly valued in sales roles. But it needs to involve a specific achievement, and is probably not the first thing that you write about.

So, having considered the above, you should now be in a position to communicate your value to the employer rather than simply telling your story.

Take the information that you have and make sure you use it to its full effect to achieve your objective – that ideal, long term career job.

Graeme Jordan (CV Writer, Interview Coach and Chartered Marketer).

See his work in Poland here: