Partner of
Kennedy Executive

Six reasons your CV is not good enough

As executive recruiter many people have asked me, if I could check their Curriculum Vitae (CV or ‘resume’). I get requests from top executives to specialists. It is not surprising as everyone has their own opinion about e.g. structure, number of pages and design. Over the last 8 years I have seen thousands of CVs and every time I am surprised with the enormous amount of differences.

What is the best CV? What should it entail? What are the top 6 reasons your CV is not good enough?

First of all, it depends on who you are going to send the CV to. Sending the same Curriculum Vitae to different employers or executive recruiters could be a mistake. Every job, employer or reader is different. Before building or amending your CV, one should take into consideration the job profile: what are the competences mentioned in the job spec and did one add this into their profile? Does one fit when it comes to requirements: work experience in a specific industry, the number of years of management experience or does one have the right education.

1. Stick 100% to the reality about your education, employment history or extracurricular activities. It is surprising to see that people do not put the right information on LinkedIn or on their CV. We at Lens, Executive Search / Kennedy Executive The Netherlands do a complete background check before introducing target candidates to our clients. We have access to most alumni databases and we do check the education background. So if you just did a course at a top university but never completed your Bachelor’s or Master’s – we will find out. Furthermore be trustworthy about what you have done. No worries if you did a sabbatical for a few months – our clients like that. Just be honest! Just do not put terms in your CV. like Director or Vice President when in reality you are not. Again, we will find out – this is our job. Last but not least your LinkedIn information should match your CV. Not in length but when it comes to dates, position and education. You will be surprised about the number of CVs we receive that do not match the LinkedIn Profile.

2. Do not put a picture of yourself on a CV. Many people argue that this is important but we tend to disagree. You already have a picture on LinkedIn and that is enough. When candidates are presented or discussed with our clients, it should be about content and not about the packaging. You will be surprised about the number of times we have discussed about how someone looks – even on Board Level. This is not relevant!

3. After your personal information, which can be different in each country, write up to three sentences about your motivation: why are you applying or what makes you fit the job specification. Adjust this every time you send this out.

4. A CV should be between 2 and 4 pages. If it is 5 no worries but more is not worthwhile. Nine out of ten CVs do not include vital information like ‘how did I add value to my employer?’ ‘I contributed % margin to the company’ or, ‘I increased productivity which has resulted in an increase of €/$/£ profit’. It is absolutely necessary that you add information like that. Even if you are an HR Manager or Finance Manager, you do contribute to the earnings of your organization or play an important role in the overall course or productivity.

5. Try not to be too creative. CVs are serious and they are about your professional life. If you like color or Prezi and/ or Powerpoint be very careful. Your information is also becoming data driven. Your C.V. will end up in databases and needs to be found, just like key words when you use Google. If you add design and color, or save a CV in a file other than Word or PDF, databases will have difficulty in finding your CV So being creative does not always mean you stand out.

6. Last but not least add your extracurricular activities. It is becoming more and more relevant that you have contributed to society. All of our clients like that. Just a brief summary, not an entire story explaining your role, just position and name of the organization.

If you require more advice on writing your CV, please contact one of our offices. We will be happy to give you some pointers.


Dave Heilbron - Senior Partner

Dave Heilbron is Senior Partner at Lens. His chief area of search expertise is the financial sector: the risk management and big data disciplines, especially. In addition, he is involved in a wide range of search activities around b2b positions across the globe.

next item