How “real” should you keep it on your CV?

Writing a CV to showcase essentially all that you have to offer can be difficult at the best of times as you want to show the employer that you are the right candidate for the role without having to lie about it! So just how “real” should you keep it on your CV? Mildred Talabi looks further into the matter in her article below.  

About the Author

Mildred Talabi is the founder of CV Makeover and the author of 7 Keys to a Winning CV: How to create a CV that gets results. Mildred trained as a journalist and worked for various publications, including The Guardian newspaper, before “accidentally” embarking on a career in CV and career advice. Today she spends most of her time delivering career talks, seminars and workshops to students and graduates, and writing a weekly blog on career issues and job hunting tips and techniques which you can subscribe to for free on her website

“Keeping it real”

In urban slang, the term “keeping it real” refers to someone who is completely themselves with no pretence.

Someone who is not afraid to “tell it like it is”, and someone who despite fame, success or popularity is still the same person as they were previously – much like Jennifer aka “Jenny from the block” Lopez would have us believe about her (cue pointless music video).

Whilst keeping it real may have its virtues on the street, it might not be such a great idea when it comes to your quest for employment.

Take this CV for example:

How “real” should you keep it on your CV? This 19-year-old tests the boundaries…

This CV has been doing the rounds on Twitter since genuinely being submitted to a rather shocked chef for employment. The young man in question clearly wants a job but also believes in keeping it real in order to get there – so he tells it as it is, right down to the closing sentence (my favourite line):

“There is no lying or pretence in this CV. Its all me and that’s how I sell myself to girls, and that’s how I am going to sell myself to employment.”

While indeed it’s never a good idea to lie or pretend on your CV, there is also such a thing as being too honest – or in this case, being too “real”. Although some of the content of this young man’s CV would be useful in a cover letter and some in an interview setting, the vast majority of it would be much better left unsaid or confided to close friends, not your potential employer.

A refreshing realness 

But despite this and the many other glaring errors (spelling and grammar mistakes, lack of conventional structure etc), the realness of this CV is actually quite refreshing in a world where many job seekers often hand out the same clone CVs, totally devoid of personality, much to the frustration of employers.

In fact, according to a recent Telegraph article on what graduate employers want, this young man may well be an attractive candidate for companies who value originality in candidates, such as Endsleigh Insurance Services:

“One of the biggest frustrations we have is meeting students with the same CVs and answers — as if they have all been prepped in the same way. At interview we try to assess behaviour as much as any work experience to give us a sense of the future a candidate might have with our company.” – Katy Smith, Resourcing Partner

…or for Microsoft UK who mark highly for passion:

“We are after people with a can-do attitude, enthusiasm, interpersonal skills and the drive and ambition to make an impact…For us, it’s less about what you’ve studied and more about why you want to work for us and what you can bring.” – Theresa McHenry, Human Resources Director

Even though there is much work to be done to get this CV up to scratch (check out Clare Whitmell’s pointers on how to get across your main selling points without it sounding like a confessional), it is safe to say that keeping it real on your CV, to a certain extent, won’t hurt.

But whatever you do, please keep your intentions for a “buiteful wife and a beasty car” to yourself – unless of course you want to become famous on Twitter, then by all means go ahead…

7 Keys to a Winning CV: How to create a CV that gets results by Mildred Talabi is available on Amazon:

For more tips and guidance on writing effective CVs, carrying out job-searches and gaining the right support in getting into work, visit County Training’s work clubs, more details available here: 

County Training’s tips on CV writing can be viewed here:


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