Friday, 24 September 2010


One of the best tips I ever got was from a book called “What colour is your parachute” many moons ago. And it was this. In telling your story through your CV you should relate your achievements in particular posts as opposed to merely describing your duties. So instead of saying,

“Taught a range of post-graduate modules

I would say,

“Developed two new modules in consultation with employers and amended the assessment on another in order to make it more relevant to students’ intended career path”.

The second statement demonstrates a more active approach to work and therefore is more appealing to an employer. Crafting a CV is a vitally important task. It’s getting your foot in the door and it demands that you spend a great deal of time working on it.

Showing instead of telling

While I have not got a CV to hand at the moment, the details of my employment history and education are there for all to see on the LinkedIn site. The LinkedIn site does offer some insight into my career. It provides links to both my tweets and to slideshare where my slides are on public view. Showing my slides could be considered as part of my portfolio. This shows what I can actually do as opposed to merely stating it on a CV.

If you have the opportunity to present a CV digitally, you should consider embedding digital examples of your work as a showcase of what you can do. Nigel Boyce is an actor who has appeared in a range of productions. He has produced a video clip which clearly demonstrates his range of work.

Patrick O'Kane is another actor who has put his CV on his agent's site with a an example of his voice. There is a long list of productions he has appeared in. The two modes of presentation are in sharp contrast. It would be interesting to hear which you think more effectively showcases their professionalism to the greater effect?

Reflection & CV

Producing a CV should encourage self reflection. What is the message you want to convey about yourself? Critically review your own CV and consider how a potential employer might view you. For instance, I am aware that my own CV shows a higher than average number of employers. Anyone reading it might assume that I have itchy feet. Or that I am not very committed. Or even, maybe, that I had to move on. I am aware of these so in telling the story of my work history I try to convey a sense of achievement. And this is actually true. In the process of self-reflection , I conclude that I like starting new things, I thrive on a challenge and I love learning. When I have mastered something new I have tended to move on and start afresh.

The experience of working in a variety of organisations, with different cultures has been very useful as I can bring to a new organisation things I have learned elsewhere as well as the confidence to deal purposefully with a wide range of abilities. It has been a privilege to have been a part of so many great organisations and to have seen how they operate from the inside. Not only did all this experience benefit me in moving from job to job (and usually to a better one), it solidified my academic interest in organisational culture. I was curious to learn more about what makes organisations tick? This led me into my first academic role, teaching Management at Post graduate level. After some time I changed tack again and became interested in the notion of Leadership. This led me into thinking about the difference between Management and Leadership. And this has led to my current interest which is biographical data and uncovering the language (or discourse) of leaders. Carrying out a series of biographical interviews has then led me into evaluating this as a methodology for inquiry.

Hedgehog or Fox?

Isaiah Berlin
was a philosopher who wrote a famous essay called the Hedgehog and the Fox about the pursuit of knowledge. The hedgehog knows a lot about one big thing while the fox knows many small things. I believe my work history shows that I have leanings towards the fox.


  1. I have just watched the youtube video for Nigel Boyce and looked at Patrick O'Kane's CV and listened to his voice clips. For me I found the latter more effective as it was so concise. The CV and his credits were so clearly laid out and and the voice clips were just the right length so I didn't lose focus. I enjoyed Nigel Boyce's youtube clip but I found it was quite long and could have been cut down further to hold the audience's attention for the duration of the clip. However, it did show his versatility as an actor and showed an amazing variety of things he has been in.
    After looking at both examples, it has lead me to consider alternative ways of presenting my own CV and how technology can help you sell yourself to an employer and show more of your skills and attributes than is possible by just writing down your details and credits on a piece of paper.

  2. Reading what you have written and looking at the examples given has just highlighted to me the importance of showcasing as many sides of myself as possible. I have ideas of setting up a professional website for myself shortly and I was only planning on putting up news, biog, prof. experience and photos. However after reading your post I am keen to put together a show reel and voice reel for the webpage. Considering how busy people in our industry are; being able to showcase as many sides to yourself as possible at the just click of the mouse can only be a good thing!