Turning your CV upside-down

How much of writing or updating a CV involves arguments with yourself? Is that relevant? Is that representative? Is that arrogant? Is that true? According to the final result, that perfectly edited PDF, you are a workaholic, responsible and obedient, with great communication and leadership skills and, yet, no social life. You are completely determined to work all hours and dedicate yourself to the job you will undoubtedly love. You have inoffensive hobbies. You are a team player – there is a high chance, if pressed, you really are into all those team sports you haven’t played since school – and you simply cannot imagine spending a single working day on your own (though you can, of course, work just as well independently as you do in a team). You are also really good with technology, possibly a digital native if that’s what they want. Never mind that you will probably need a special induction session on printer settings if you ever get the job.

Writing a CV can make you lose yourself. Whether it is supposed to be a reflection of your personality or not, you end by trying to confirm and conform. The perception is, writing the truth would get you nowhere. So you Google it. You LinkedIn it. Your personality and skills are now imperfectly encapsulated by buzzwords, common assumptions, popular perceptions, management talk and workplace jargon that most people find unbearable, but bear it anyway. You read that you simply cannot enter a certain profession unless you are and know this and that. You are also wary that HR will run your application through some sort of mean software to look for ambiguous compatibility and suitability indicators before they even read it. All of us have heard those stories. We live in the age of computers, so it is probably the safest option to become one. It is unnerving and stressful.

Your people skills do not matter on paper; but they can really change your life. You must stay open to opportunities and look for people who inspire you. We live to defy stereotypes. You might have been led to assume that all people in your desired profession are boring and geeky, or that they are white, privileged and conservative. While stereotypes and conventions exist, the world is changing. The work environment we are trying to conquer is mobile and unpredictable. There are people similar to you out there. They might have had to overcome much greater challenges. They do not look for people who appear suitable or who will land on their feet. They look for someone who will embrace and progress their ideas. They are looking for someone special, breath-taking, surprising, maybe even shocking. They are looking for a maverick.

Not everyone has the faculties and confidence to just ‘go out there’ and make an impression, that’s natural. We are distanced from the decision-makers, particularly at the moment. We see bureaucracy and admin. Yet as one ancient Greek philosopher argued a long time ago, we become brave only by doing brave acts. It’s still true today. So, you need to put yourself on the market – your personality, values and flaws – in order to truly push yourself and find a purpose. You need to explore and test. You can find people who are looking for you and the creative freedom you can offer. There are many ways to turn your job-market weaknesses into strengths. There are people who are prepared to help, because they understand you and your individuality. They value and appreciate whatever you have to give, even those surprising quirks. Exploit this opportunity when you next open your CV to update it. Just think, how do you really want to present yourself?

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