CV Writing: what’s in a word?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 - CV Help, CV Tips, CV Writing, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Job Advert, recruitment

CV Writing: what’s in a word?


In CV Writing, never is it more true that you need to watch your words and language. Not quite sure what I mean? Let me explain.

As someone who has crossed the Atlantic more than enough times – at some point I have promised myself I will cross it on a ship, as opposed to an aircraft – the intrigue of Winston Churchill’s statement often strike me as wholly true:

Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language

Churchill was taking a light comical dig at the differences between English and American English. But even in every day language there are huge differences in how individuals interpret words.

When CV Writing, these small differences can create critical reactions in employers, and make them reject your job application.

CV Cake v Resume Cookie

My latest personal reference to Churchill’s quote was when debating the words biscuit and cookie. In much the same way that our modern society uses text language, both sides of the Atlantic have lazily used either biscuit or cookie to cover a whole plethora of sweet hard comfort foods.

So what is a biscuit? In my debate with an American, I used the venerable Merriam Websters, the American English version of the Oxford English Dictionary. What M-W says, is that:

  • A biscuit does not rise while cooking
  • A cookie (derived from the Dutch for cake), does rise, much like a cake

Further, as anyone who likes UK tax law, in HMRC v McVities (Jaffa Cakes), while a biscuit softens as it ages, a cake hardens. Hence why there is no VAT on Jaffa Cakes (classed as a cake) or biscuits, where as there is on chocolate covered digestives!

I am told it all of this food minutia goes back to the days of the creation of the laws around import duties, but you can now see what a difference a simple classification and a chocolate coating makes to how the Government sees and hence taxes something.

CV Writing: words check

What words should you be careful of when using them in your CV? CV’s communicate your combination of SQE (Skills, Qualifications and Experiences), and their suitability for a particular job. Although all jobs are an SQE combination, as they are written around a Job Description, and job sector requirements tend to fall into one of two streams:

  • Technical/qualifications lead: employers seek a base of qualifications (ie: nurses, doctors, scientists, teachers, etc), and advancement of those tend to define your maximum possible position (eg: medical, scientific, research, engineering, etc)
  • Results lead: employers seek a defined set of outcomes/experiences, seeking someone to achieve the same thing for themselves (eg: sales, marketing, management)

Results lead employers won’t care as much about words as technical/qualification lead employers, who tend to be as precise as a sharp cooking knife in their interpretation of words associated with their market:

  • What type of engineer?
  • What grade of nurse?
  • Which level of accounting?

These employers will probe and dig to their hearts content in the job interview, and much as though your title may have been “manager,” they in their interpretation in all probability will not translate it or see your responsibilities that way. If an employer has doubt, then you will be rejected.

How do you avoid these doubt issues? Simply, call the employer before applying! Then “what do you mean by” becomes your tool of differentiation to all the other candidates, over the sharp meat skewer this type of employer will use in interpreting and probably rejecting many of the other job applicants.

What’s in a word? A job, that’s what.

Good Luck!


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