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Keeping healthy: why updating your CV is like going to the gym

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

We've all been there. That thing we know we need to do but that still lurks at the bottom of your to do list. Writing or updating your CV is a bit like getting down to the gym, pool or squash court - you know you'll feel better for it but it feels like a lot of effort and unless you really have to, there always something else you'd rather do.

Day one out of lockdown and I was in the gym at 9am. It would have been very easy for me not to go as I have tonnes to do and was tired after a few late evenings working, but I knew that I'd feel better, and better about myself, if I went. I was right. It got me thinking about the ways that writing your CV and keeping it healthy is like going to the gym, starting with having a goal.

The key part of driving a commitment forward is having a goal to focus on, and that is a really important part of the CV writing process. Whether you're working with a professional writer or going it alone, really make sure you've thought about what you want to achieve.

Not only will that help you orientate your CV in the right way, but by setting yourself a goal you can then start to take the smaller steps to help get you there - a lot like a fitness plan:

1. Have a goal - focus on where you are going and set yourself a commitment to get there. Challenge yourself to review your CV on a monthly basis or post on LinkedIn weekly, and focus on your overall aim. Your CV could be what unlocks that career transition you've always wanted to make, that promotion you've dreamed about and that step back into employment after being made redundancy. It won't happen without a bit of hard graft, a bit like running a 10k doesn't either!

2. Be ready - it will feel harder to tackle the enormity of writing your CV from scratch if you're facing redundancy; aim to get ahead so you're prepared should this happen. It will also help you to write the best version of yourself when you're feeling positive about your work, so start the process while you're in a good frame of mind and in control.

3. Involve your friends - anything challenging is always better when you're got friends to cheer you on. Ask a friend or colleague to proof read your work, give you feedback about what they value in you and agree to let them hold you to account in updating your CV.

4. Little and often - once you've got a good CV in place, it's easy to tweak it so that you tailor your application to each different role you apply for. The more you do this, the more confident you will get, so build up your stamina and it will be easier to manage.

5. Track your progress - understand what's working and what isn't. Celebrate the success you have in getting to interview, and review your CV each and every time. How could you improve it? Is the presentation clear and well structured? Have you included enough hard metrics to show your achievements? Do your skills match the job spec?

So, keep your CV healthy by working it out regularly - make sure it's relevant, that your employment experience is up to date and it reflects who you are as a professional. Importantly, make sure it reflects not just what you've done but where you are going and tailor it specifically to each role you apply to. Do this when you're feeling positive and supported and you will be a stronger position to face career change and challenge, if it comes.

Oh, and did I mention reward your success? My 40 minute gym visit this morning is now going to offset today's advent calendar treat...

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