Understand the only goal of your CV / résumé

The only goal of your curriculum vitae: A job interview!

Unfortunately, many applicants don’t ask themselves the following question. Why are you writing a CV / résumé? Well, of course, the person conducting the subsequent interviews should be able to gain a positive impression of the applicant’s career to date. But what is the applicant’s goal, YOUR goal?

Your only goal must (and may only) be to receive an invitation to a job interview. Unfortunately, I am continually confronted with the apparently widespread, mostly subconscious misconception that a CV / résumé is for getting the applicant a new job. A CV / résumé cannot do that! Those who hope it will, are likely to endow their CV / résumé with information irrelevant to the first phase and will thus create fewer chances for getting invited to a job interview. And without that interview, there will be no job.

How would the focus on the right objective affect the content and wording of a CV / résumé? First, I am going to show you a negative example and then a positive alternative:

10/2008 – 09/2011Studies at the University of Stockholm
Graduated with a BSc in Business Administration
In addition, my Swedish professional experience was considered equivalent to an MBA degree by a university reviewer in the USA in 2017.

Of course, it’s not “bad” to write it this way. But you can make much more of the MBA recognition and thus increase the curiosity of the other side to have a personal interview with the applicant. Let’s also correct the boring study entry, as well as the waste of valuable advertising space by the tabular layout. Like this, for example:

Education and qualifications
03/2017 | MBA (Recognition) W. Albright College, Springfield (MA), USA
09/2011 | BSc in Business Administration, University of Stockholm, Sweden
Major achievements

  • Successful graduation within the standard period of study (6 semesters).
  • 22 exams passed with a grade-point average in the upper third.
  • 3-month internship at Swedbank.
  • Bachelor thesis on the topic “Error rates in BI-supported retail decisions”.

In the first example, the applicant’s bachelor’s degree is presented. In the second case, the focus is on the recognized MBA (with completely identical facts). And now, the other side is wondering what kind of college this could be and how she may have gotten this recognition. Well, she must be asked to come in for an interview if they want to find out. 🙂


So, to summarize:

My CV / résumé is mainly needed to maximize my chances for a job interview. Therefore, I will deliberately refrain from answering all possible questions in it. I will rather focus on content that will make the recipient really curious to learn more about me and my career to date.

Nothing more! But this is very important and a lot for the first step, because without an interview there probably won’t be a second one. If you have been sending out your CV / résumé for a while already but have not received many invitations to an interview, I strongly recommend that you thoroughly examine your CV / résumé now.

In the end, all your activities, as well as your application documents, should present your professional past in a way that the only logical consequence for the future is taking up exactly the position you are applying for. The closer you get to this ideal when creating your CV / résumé etc., the higher your chances of being offered the desired position at a later date.

On August 18th, Mr. Kay-Dietrich K. from Hamburg wrote:

»When we started out that time, Michael told me that I would be able to use the things we were to cover for the rest of my professional life as they represented all the important psychological basics. He was right.«

A positive side-effect for the job interview

Such a focus has another advantage. It allows you to influence the topics of the subsequent interviews quite a bit. Maybe you have a few weaknesses you are not keen to talk about during the interview? Then use your CV / résumé to pique the curiosity of the recruitment manager about those aspects that will make you stand out as a high-achiever upon closer inspection. And suddenly, there is no time left to talk about the other points, “unfortunately”. 😉