Operation CV


How to Play to the Emotions of Your Target

Sophisticated players in the B2B and services marketing arena speak of drilling for the ‘Dominant Buying Motive (DBM)’ . . . a concept that could be valuably applied to process of understanding the specific motivations of the hiring party.

I very deliberately use the word “drilling”. A DBM is often not as clearly reflected in a client’s brief as might be expected. One of the most prevalent reasons for this, is that – whether a tender, a set of purchasing specifications, a recruitment or any other form of “procurement” brief – the requirements, in their truest sense, may not be as cut-and-dried as the written specs convey.


The written criteria are based on the best expression of logic, but the driving force behind them is far more emotive – and the client might not:

(a) be conscious of that underlying emotion / motivation,
(b) be able to articulate it, and/or
(c) not be willing to declare it openly.

However, none of these three factors erodes the strength of that unarticulated emotion that lies aback of the articulated logic and its influence in the decision.

Emotion-Driven Action, Logic-Based Justification

The other side of the exact same coin is that – as in marketing and sales psychology in general – a buyer may be primarily motivated by emotional factors but justify his or her buying decision (and his or her articulation of that justification) with logical factors.

How that plays out in the formulation of a recruitment brief, very specifically, is that the more tangible specifications are – whether consciously or subconconsciously – informed by emotive factors, but expressed and discussed in terms of quantitative, objective descriptors and measures. And as it is with the vendor in any high-stakes corporate sector procurement, so it is with the candidate investing the time and intellectual effort in drilling out the real underlying DBM in a talent hire. That is, those parties avail themselves of crystal-clear insight into the hot buttons and the key trigger points of the decisionmakers.

Demonstrating Your Ability to Create A Healthy Organisational Culture

As inarguably important as ‘organisational culture’ is, an agreed definition and a ‘gold standard’ measurement practice is up for greater debate.

Clarity on the definition applied to “culture”, however, is critical to any meaningful claims made about a manager’s or executive’s degree of competence in fostering a healthy one.

Also to be considered, is that there are two different perspectives to bring to the “culture” discussion: Internal and external. While a healthy culture within the walls and operations of the organisation (“internal”) creates a better chance of a positive collective customer experience (“external”) and a correspondingly positive influence on general marketplace performance, both sides of the equation call for clear definition and demonstration.

Too Performance-Pivotal to be Dealt With Lightly

It’s an aspect of organisational and executive / managerial performance too pivotal to be dismissed in non-specific, non-substantiated, platitudinal terms.

So where does the discussion and the data fit in an executive’s or senior manager’s Curricula Vitae?

What is it that needs conveyed about the culture of the CV owner’s current company / employer?

What are the forms of measurement or substantiation of any claims made regarding that applicant’s role in the state of the culture in the company or department that individual currently leads?

Again, it starts with clarity:

  • What degree of priority will the target (i.e. board, management, HR parties) place on determining the applicant’s competence and/or contribution to the creation of the organisational culture (whatever that may be) at the applicant’s current company / workplace?
  • How deep into the complexity of the topic would the target’s hiring decisionmakers likely want to delve? Would they wish to see it covered in subjective terms like “structured vs flexible”, “internally vs externally driven” and “process vs focused”? Or by objective measurements e.g. employee engagement and company climate surveys, customer surveys and broader marketplace performance audits, business element scorecards and other forms of formal “pulse checks”?
  • If the more subjective descriptors and discussion is opted for, how will claims be substantiated? If the objective, quantitative approach is opted for, how far – within the confines of a CV – does one go in demonstrating that these results have materially influenced the various aspects of company and marketplace performance?

Know the Target & Know Thyself

Knowing the target, and “knowing thyself” in relation to that, are equally important imperatives.

Both the CV owner and his or her CV writer must be as researched as possible about the relevant mindset, perspectives and priorities of the hiring parties and any other influential readers of the Curricula Vitae. With those insights to hand, the CV can be closely tailored to align the strengths of the executive or managerial candidate with the specific desires and expectations held by even the most intellectually sophisticated and discerning parties on the hiring side of the equation.

create a healthy organisational culture

The Short Copy vs Long Copy Debate . . . and How It Plays Out in CVs

In general marketing copy, a seasoned copywriter will tell you that the correct and strategically responsible approach to the “short copy vs long copy” debate is:

The correct length for any marketing piece (without a specified word count or when limited by format) is “as long as it needs to be”.

It should not be longer: It should make its point impactfully and using only the word count that is required to do so. (The exception to this rule is the Direct Marketing copywriter, who uses repetition and re-phrasing as part of the well-recognised DM formula.)

It should not be shorter: Any communications piece that has, as its primary imperative, the requirement of compelling the reader to a course of action (including the selection of a CV owner as the best candidate for a position) should never stop short of ensuring that objective, purely to conform to some arbitrary minimum length expectation. The piece must include all the information essential to achieve its intended purpose.

If a page or word count has been stipulated, the information must be prioritised and compacted to nonetheless achieve the strategic inclusion of all the required key data / points. This is the responsibility of a skilled writer. (That said, any imposed word count that makes this task literally impossible is, at best, unrealistic, and at worst, irresponsible, on the part of whomever is making the unworkable stipulation.)

In the case of an executive’s bio or resume, more often than not, the challenge is indeed to convey an abundance of relevant and “tasty” information within a length-limited or semi-length-limited format. The key is prioritisation and planning. And, in turn, the key to effective prioritisation and planning is the well-researched, intricate understanding of the targeted position and the selection committee or other readership.

With prioritisation informed decisions can, for example, be made as to whether to use valuable word count allowance to include a greater listing of experiences versus substantiating and providing case examples to support other, higher-priority inclusions. This highlights the fact that a savvy CV production is not one that should be left to your “common garden” writer.

An executive resume – or indeed, any CV – is a high-stakes piece. Every inclusion and every word employed to articulate every inclusion should be strategically selected – both for impact and for achievement of the ultimate objective.

short copy vs long copy

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