The task of selling yourself in the context of a CV can be difficult. Striking a balance between professionalism and personality is a tricky task – in tackling it, people tend to fall back on clichés and words so ubiquitous that they’re almost meaningless. Telling potential employers that you’re a confident, multi-tasking, team-oriented, people-person with an eye for detail is perfectly fine – these are winning qualities. However they seem less impressive when every second applicant claims to have them.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? Well, obviously providing specific examples makes these statements seem more considered. But even before you get to that point, it’s worth taking a step back and really thinking laterally about what your unique personality traits might be, what really motivates you, and how those traits and motivations impact the way you operate at work.
To get to the core of who you are, it can be worth writing a list of everything that makes you, you – without judging it through the lens of your potential employer. Forget about selling yourself for a minute and just be honest; the purpose of the exercise is to free-up your thinking. You might find that you generate some fresh insights into how your unique characteristics translate to work.
Let’s take me as an example. My list might include things such as:
1. When I get dressed in the morning, I ultimately choose comfort over style
2. I get annoyed when I see an apostrophe used in a grammatically incorrect way
3. At work, my desk is always a complete mess
4. I have loads of hair-brained business ideas
Thinking laterally about this list, I can now boil these statements down to a few key traits:
2. Meticulous, (some might say pedantic)
3. Pragmatic (having a messy desk is ok by me if I get the job done well)
4. A creative aptitude for ‘big picture thinking’
The list of traits you end up with might not be entirely CV-ready (pedantic might not be the best adjective to include in my CV!), but hopefully what you end up with more honest, unique description – and in turn, that means you’ll have a clearer idea of what kind of company requires someone just like you.