The Importance of Being Relevant


Whenever I give advice about writing a CV (or resume), I find that I continually return to a central point, relevance. Let me demonstrate why I believe it is at the heart of a great CV and is the single most important thing to get right.

Purpose – while I’m sure you are already very familiar with the purpose of a CV, allow me to provide a definition here. A CV is an outline of your academic and professional life which is used to demonstrate why you are the best person for a particular role. In other words, it’s purpose is to establish why you are amazing and a relevant applicant for the position.

Content – the content of your CV should always serve the purpose, so the content must be relevant, and more specifically, relevant to the role that you are applying for. This means that anything in your work experience and education that makes you qualified for the role should be amplified and anything else should be framed in a way that highlights any transferrable skills. Any additional content should also serve the purpose, be clear about your reason and intention before deciding to include anything. The reason doesn’t need to be profound, it could just be to paint a more vivid picture of who you are and what you can bring to a workplace, however, it does need to be filtered through the lens of relevance.

Structure – the way a CV should be structured is also heavily influence by relevance. The reverse chronological order ensures that the most recent roles, which will be the most closely related to the position your are applying for, are listed first. If you are a recent graduate you will probably want to list your education before your employment history, again the most recent and relevant study will be listed first.

Engagement – ultimately, in order for you to be short-listed, you will need to create a CV that can engage and maintain the attention of the person reading it. Waffling on about tasks, roles or skills that are irrelevant to the role you are applying for, will frustrate the reader and cause them to lose interest.

I could happily continue, but hopefully by now I’ve made my point. So next time you are sitting down to write or update your CV, there is one question that I would encourage you to ask yourself constantly, ‘Is this relevant?’