How to show my creative side in my Curriculum Vitae

Q: When it comes to writing, I’m not exactly a straight-down-the-middle type of person. In school and college, technical essays scared me whereas I loved the ‘lá brea samhraidh a bhi ann…’ ones where I was required to dream up a madcap story that resulted in everyone living unhappily ever after. Maybe my fondness for the flight of fancy is why I have been putting off re-writing my criminally out-of-date CV for the last few months. All that boring stuff – where I was, what I did, how I did it, why I’m great – leaves me cold. But I realise this is not a time for fiction. I’m a French teacher, perhaps ironically. Any tips? (DC, email).

A:  “…agus ni raibh scamall sa spéir…”

For those we’re in danger of losing here, our snippets of Irish mean ‘it was a lovely summer’s day and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.”

Anyway, DC, we need to get you in the zone for presenting your career information in the best possible way. You have discounted the prospect of deploying your writing skills in the CV – the fact that you have a way with words is surely an asset in a teacher.

Good writing can persuade. It can engage the reader. It can say a lot about you, particularly in a language teaching context where your job is to imbue a love of language in others. I think it safe to assume that someone with a love of good expression in one language will bring that to another language.

So, yes, I would aim to use well-crafted, deft phrases in those parts of your CV where you describe your work. Show appreciation for the progress your students make and for the value of an education that supports creativity and flair.  Don’t over-cook it: verbosity is not your friend. But don’t suck the life out of your CV to the point where it is a wooden piece of work – think more Dead Poets Society than dead document.

It sounds like you need some guidance on the more formal elements of your CV. Start by writing down the key headings – Name & Contact Details, Personal Profile, Career Highlights, Personal Competencies, Work Experience, Education, Hobbies & Interests and Referees.

A tip we find useful when writing CVs is to work from the bottom up. The process of writing a CV often brings long-forgotten achievements and highlights back to the surface. If you work from the bottom up, all of those items will present themselves, which means that you will be in a much better place for writing the first crucial three sections (Personal Profile, Career Highlights and Personal Competencies). You will have got to know the ‘client’ (i.e. yourself) better and will be able to summarise in a more focused and meaningful way, all the time bearing in mind the employer’s needs.

Don’t fixate on dates: we don’t need to know the exact months you started and finished jobs or courses. People can get very bothered about this and the process of tracking back through their career causes them all sort of confusion. Draw out a simple map on a piece of paper and track the major movements of your career there: when you’ve that done, translate it to a narrative on your CV.

Your CV should be a nice mix of fact and flair – but not fiction. Fiction sells, but only on Amazon. Correction, fiction may help to sell you, but if you’re caught – and good interviewers will catch you – there’s no way back. “Lá scamallach a bhi ann…”

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Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883), Mayo (Crossmolina & Ballinrobe), Dublin, Limerick and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway 

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Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) have offices in Mayo (Ballinrobe 094 95 42965, Crossmolina 096 57770), Galway, Dublin, Limerick and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/mayo 

Clare Champion

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528 883), Limerick (Deirdre May, 061 304789), Dublin, Athlone and Mayo (Ballinrobe & Crossmolina). Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/limerick  

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Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Athlone and Mayo (Ballinrobe & Crossmolina). Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com

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