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Objective vs Subjective in Executive CV Content (and A Third, Better Way)

objective versus subjective content

There are two prevailing schools of thought when it comes to the tone and content of a managerial resume.

A Tale of Two Content Types & Styles

The first school has it that this career-critical document should be as succinct, as direct, and as to the point as possible. Don’t try to “sell yourself”; leave out the subjective content, the members of this branch of thinking say. Just provide the facts and objective information and let these speak for themselves. “Trying too hard” raises a red flag, the purveyors of this school of thought claim. And as for C-Suite and other executive CVs, they’re adamant that publicity, industry reputation and general word-of-mouth are more impactful than subjective claims made in any form of “bio”.

The second, more “gung ho” school of thought sees a CV as a sales proposal, and the owner of the CV as the product. A good sales proposal, these proponents say (extending the logic of effective advertising principles) evokes emotion and desire, making the subject of said “ad” a “must-have” proposition.

A Superior, 1 + 1 = 12 Equation

While these two perspectives might seem directly opposed, a truly savvy CV won’t actually treat them as exclusive at all.

While any resume that is customised for a specific target position or other objective is indeed a form of personal sales document, an effective, strategic sales proposal lays out the features of the product of service it is endeavoring to sell and explains the benefits of those features.

It is in taking this process one critical step further in the pursuit of the ultimate customisation of a position-specific resume, that there is the opportunity to combine both schools of thought . . . to produce a 1 + 1 = 12 equation. Let’s refer to this combination as the third, or “elevated” school of thought.

To explain in the briefest possible manner:

The facts, stats and hard core, black-and-white data (the qualifications, skills, experience and track record i.e. the “features”) represent the “objective” content of a biographical production of this nature. This is the content on which the recruiters, senior management or board can rely for the components of the decision they wish to base primarily on rational thinking and general logic.

Enter the second school of thought i.e. the promotion of the “benefits” these “features” have brought to the subject’s previous employers and enterprises. (This content may fall into either the objective or the subjective category. The “objective” being that which provides substantiation of any claims made, and the “subjective” being that copy that tends towards the promotional and emotive in tone.)

The Next-Level Managerial or Executive CV

The third – i.e. the elevated – school of thought provides the opportunity to create a genuinely optimized, compelling, next-level biographical piece. This is the domain of the writer who investigates, analyses and fully comprehends the needs, opportunities and driving forces of the hiring enterprise, along with the various facets of its environment and its culture – and then cleverly aligns the features of the subject’s CV with the benefits they represent within that very specific framework.

Thus, it’s not a question of “objective versus subjective” content but rather the strategic use of the objective to create a target-specific, compelling subjective. In fact, if that is achieved, even the subjective is, arguably, only subjective to the extent that the content of the CV has not already effectively demonstrated what can be expected of the CV owner in the environment he or she is being hired into.

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