We’re the same, you and I, and not just because we’re both on that one way journey into the eternal darkness. We’re bound together by the soul-crushing, life-destroying need to cram our achievements, personalities, ambitions and desires into two perfectly formatted yet eye-catching pages of lies.
No matter how hard I try, and I can assure you I gave up trying long ago, my CV reads as an excruciatingly boring and unimportant list of jobs sewn together with cringing attempts to make me sound like a professional, confident and competent person. Trouble is, in so doing it also makes me sound like a complete arsehole.
Read yours right now, if you can bear to. I start retching and getting stomach cramps when I so much as click on the filename. I haven’t touched a printed copy of it for years and I’m pretty sure my hands would catch fire if I did. Read someone else’s too, preferably someone you like or at least care about.
Done it? Do you still like yourself and the other person? Unlikely. It’ll probably take a few weeks for that to wear off, so avoid them and your own reflection for at least a fortnight and stay away from sharp objects.
In my long-since-abandoned quest to write the perfect CV I discovered one simple fact: it doesn’t exist. It’s as mythical as the Holy fucking Grail. If you believe you have the perfect CV then you are most definitely wrong, and you are most definitely the same pompous wanker your CV makes you out to be.
Like so many of life’s shit, shit aspects, this all began at school: the personal statement. The pressure placed upon us to knock up 300 words of ground-breaking and original self-promotion to make our UCAS application shine brighter than any other was almost intolerable. They rammed the importance of getting it right so far home, I became convinced they had rigged up my house with IEDs and would let them rip if they identified even one stray word they considered waffle.
And so yet another generation of exaggerated and often fictional achievements was born, each one more gut-achingly arrogant than the last.
Wouldn’t life be so much better for every single person if we collectively decided to just be honest? People would then get to know who they were actually going to be working with, rather than a turbo-extreme version of them. Jobseekers would have half a chance of getting matched to a job that actually suited them. All up it would make the job market fairer.
And therein lies the fatal flaw; the job market isn’t fair. It’s a shallow place biased towards those who can make their mundane existence sound like they’re packing the kind of intellect, drive and productivity to make an entire Cambridge college shudder.
The last time I attempted to do my CV without going into anaphylactic shock, I employed the help of a friend who’d spent some time on the receiving end of job applications. I completely submitted to her will, as another piece of conflicting advice on how best to do it would have resulted in me going a bit Michael Douglas Falling Down. Word for word I put together the CV she advised. The result? An interview.
What got me this interview was the extremely creative inclusion of things I neither know nor care about. What got me this interview was two pages that sounded like they were describing a cunt of significant proportions. Within minutes of sitting down it was clear. They knew it and I knew it and the bright red face and stuttering didn’t help; I just wasn’t the cunt they were hoping for.
In a way I felt sorry for them. I could have saved us all the pain and humiliation we experienced that day if I’d just been honest from the start.
So I’ve decided to put a CV together that is completely truthful. Who knows whether or not I’ll send it out, but at least I’ll be able to read it without hyperventilating and feeling like my eyes are going to explode in my head.
This is a call to arms and I’m going to launch the first attack: I work because I have to, and so do you. That’s the truth. Stop expecting me to dress it up with fake enthusiasm and stop believing people whose only talent is to exaggerate their own brilliance. They’re just the same as you and me. Their only true gift is being able to make waffle sound less shit.