CVs and Recipes: 6 Things They Have in Common
A good CV works the same way a good recipe works. How?
1) Layout and Formatting
Why do recipes always follow the same format of introduction, list of ingredients, followed by a step-by-step preparation guide? Because it’s easy to follow! If your recipe for chicken and broccoli stir fry is a blob of a paragraph, no one is going to read it.
When writing your CV, the same applies. Choose a clean, classic font. Implement a header for your personal details. Title each of your sections. Bold, italicize, and indent when necessary to establish different types of data.
2) Clear concise language
“Pour the milk in the pot, tenderly, like you’re pouring water over a baby. Allow the pot to rest on the stove. Let the flames engulf the pot. As the fire holds the pot in its intense embrace, tickling its metallic underside, the temperature of the milk starts to rise. It starts to bubble. It boils. The layer of foam on top reminds you of the crash of waves.”
No one is going to read that recipe. Likewise, no one will read your CV unless you present your information succinctly.
“Mix the thing with the liquid. Now pour the mixture into the pot. Add a sprinkle of that spice and a dash of that sauce.”
You can’t write a recipe if you leave out the ingredients and method of cooking. You can’t have a CV without keywords. Many companies screen their applicants with recruiting management software. They might be looking for something roasted with coriander seasoning. Don’t let them skip over you by omitting important keywords.
4) Set yourself apart
There are a million macaroni and cheese recipes out there in the world. Every single one will include some form of cooking the macaroni, melting the cheese, and mixing them together. But what sets you apart? Does your recipe contain a special combination of herbs and spices? Don’t just include salt and pepper though. Be unique. Sprinkle in the oregano, basil, and nutmeg.
If you’re applying to be an event organizer, you shouldn’t just mention that you worked as one at X company with a bullet point about your “experience with organizing monthly events for X.” Instead, explain how you “organized monthly events with an attendance of at least 5,000 per event and managed teams (marketing and promotion, catering, logistics, etc.) for making these events successful.”
Errr… So how many cups of water do I need? How many teaspoons of sugar should I dump in the bowl?
Numbers are important. Numbers give people a clear sense of what they’re getting. Make sure to include numbers in your CV when applicable. If you initiated a campaign that boosted sales by 250%, include that!
6) There should be a reason for everything
“Sauté the onions. Now take a moment and pour your mom a glass of wine. Turn on NPR for an episode of Car Talk. Ok, back to the the onions.”
Everything in a recipe should have a reason for being there. Every step serves a purpose, whether it’s to tenderize the meat or to enhance the flavor. Nothing should be extraneous. Same goes with your CV. It is NOT a list of everything you’ve ever done in your life. It’s an argument for why you are the best person for the job you’re applying for.