The bonuses have been paid, the pay rises agreed, and the natives are getting restless. After the great Easter getaway comes the Great Escape. Putting a spring in the step, for many job hunters is the prospect of a pepped-up CV.

Of all the copywriting projects I most enjoy, CV writing comes top for satisfaction. And bottom for making a living from writing.

Helping write, or more often rewrite, is my charitable service – lawyers do pro bono to overturn death row sentences, I charge a pittance for writing a CV.

For many of my clients words do the selling – but they don’t usually have to put as much trust in me. The stakes are high when asking for a CV. For the first time you are sharing your ambitions – your hopes and fears — as well as career history; even the most seasoned business leader has insecurities.

Boasting or boosting

We’re brought up to be self-effacing, ready to say ‘oh this old qualification, I’d forgotten I had it, really it’s nothing’.

I give permission to boast.

A woman came to me for help getting back into the job market after a career break. Listed chronologically the most recent experience, at the top of the CV she sent over was:

“In addition to looking after my young family, I finished a BSc in Environmental Studies.”

I rewrote it as:

“While studying for a degree (a BSc in Environmental Studies) successfully combined studies with raising a young family, showing self-motivation…”

So there you go; always write for the target audience. Employers are interested in recruiting graduates, not mothers.

I can’t promise to get you a job, but I can stop you from getting in the way of yourself.

I’m going to ask those awkward questions.

If you’re going to present yourself as the Forrest Gump of civil engineering – you’ve worked on every landmark project from the Millennium Dome to the CERN reactor, how come you’ve never been promoted above entry level engineer?

Better to find an answer before finding yourself sitting opposite a recruiter sweating.

Whatever gets discussed with a copywriter stays private, for my ears only. We’re like therapists but after an hour long session more likely to say ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but have you thought about selling the benefits rather than the features? Maybe it’s about the smoke…’

But tell me, what do you think?