Operation CV


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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