How to make your CV more positive

Many CVs that I review are a little too passive and need to be rewritten to make them more active, but it’s a fine line to tread.

If you try to make yourself come across in a more active way it’s easy to overstep the mark. You can end up portraying  yourself as slightly scary, and maybe even unhinged.

Recently I reviewed a CV for a client which had been rewritten for them by a professional CV writer. They had, in my opinion, gone that little bit too far.

In one of their job roles was the phrase “Slashed payroll/benefits administration costs 30% by negotiating pricing and fees, while ensuring the continuation and enhancements of services.” Now, not only is that poor grammatically (it should be “costs by 30%”), but it also conjures up an image of an axe wielding maniac rampaging through the business.

Change “slashed” for “reduced” and you still have the same outcome, but it reads more calmly and completely changes the phrase.

The main thing to remember is to not use passive phrasing that simply lists responsibilities (though this is important). You also need to include more active phrasing as well. This means using the past tense which creates the impression of completed tasks as opposed to tasks you were responsible for.

A good example of this would be:

  • Organise engineers work rota and allocate jobs.

This would be much stronger as:

  • Organised engineers work rotas and allocated jobs to maximise efficiency and first-time fix.

Note the change to the past tense – a subtle, but important change.