Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Creating the CV of Who You Want to Be

Image thanks to desi

[Warning: this is not your typical ‘How to Write a CV’ article, no no, this is an article on writing, and creating, your future.]

“Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather... the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”
Alex Noble

The Typical CV, and a New Model

You already know many things about the typical CV; that it is a self-marketing tool; that you need one to get anywhere in your career; that it needs to be good – more than good, it has to stand-out, and that you should update it often with newly acquired skills and vertical career steps.

Your CV is often viewed as the end result of certain stages of career development:

• You leave university and possibly create your first CV
• You move on from your first job and update your CV
• You take a course and give that skill new prominence

This is all great – it’s a system that works, that’s why it’s so widely used, but it’s not exactly the most targeted way of climbing the career ladder. Waiting until you reach a milestone before acknowledging it suggests that your career operates merely as a series of accidents, rather than in purposeful steps.

What if your functional CV had an alter-ego? What if the classic CV model we’re all familiar with could become, not an end result, but a goal in itself to be aspired to?

I propose that you create the CV of the person you dream of being.


We already know how powerful and effective written goals can be, but we also know that the problem with goals is that they are often too abstract; we struggle to relate them with ‘the real world’ and our everyday lives.

A CV is different; a CV is familiar, it is concrete, it is laid out in a concise format that we associate directly with career success, and it is all on one or two pages, not scattered through journals and on postcards and sticky notes.

Let’s get started!

Your Ideal-Self CV

Personal Profile

This is just about the only place in a traditional CV where you get the chance to be a bit flowery and talk yourself up, so let’s use it for the same purpose in our aspiring CV. Use powerful, poignant words that truly evoke your ideal future self (without straying from the conventional tone of a working CV).

An Example Template:

I am a [_____] and [_____] person, based in [_____]. My current objective is [_____] as I have previously completed and excelled in [_____]. My current personal ambitions are [_____] and [_____] after successfully [_____].


This section may seem a little obsolete in a dream CV, as the likelihood is you have already completed the bulk of your education. I’m not suggesting you falsify yourself in this CV, I want you to remain realistic, and that means no sneaky adaptations of your past schooling. However, if you envisage yourself going back to university, completing a Masters programme, or even just taking an improvers maths class, you should add that here.


Same rules as above, only we have a little more room for manoeuvre here as we can add in the positions that you imagine, realistically, will carry you to the peak point of your career. Work out the perfect time-periods and chronological order of these positions and list accordingly.

Aim to write 100% authentically, as if you have already completed each point and are genuinely writing a CV for use. This affirmative style of writing can be an extremely powerful tool in visualising the future truth in what you’re writing.


This is a section where, like your Personal Profile, you can have a little more fun. What technical applications, artistic qualities or physical abilities do you need/want to achieve on the path to your peak career point? The trick is to challenge but not overwhelm yourself; don’t list twenty points of expertise that you want to realise by next year, because the likelihood is that you won’t be able to achieve that. Remember to keep this CV inspirational, but still practical.

If a skill requires training, consider the time and cost of this training and exactly when this will be viable for you. Let’s say that the average nine-to-five-er, depending on aspired level of expertise, should be able to acquire around three new skills a year. Though, obviously, this might become just one if it is a complex field, or many more if they are one-off training days.

Hobbies and Interests

Here you can write the things you would love to be doing, but that you never have the time to factor into your current life; those Italian classes you’ve yet to start, indoor rock-climbing, Yoga etc. Again, don’t be unrealistic; you don’t merely want to advertise things to yourself that you won’t be able to achieve. Limit your list to the things that really get you buzzing.

What if you’re Self-Employed?

If you’re self-employed, don’t think this exercise is of no use to you – quite the opposite, in fact. Those who are self-employed rarely require a traditional CV, and thus don’t obtain the benefits of solidifying their career past and present into a succinct document. Give it a go, you might like it.

What Next?

There you have it, the CV of the person you’d love to be, but, you guessed it, this alone is not enough; from here on you’ll need targeted action to see this dream come to life. Here are some ideas:

• Add future dates to the different points on your CV. This will help you organise your individual goals and give you deadlines for achieving them.

• Put a check-box beside each element you have not yet achieved so that you can actively measure completion of separate goals.

• Don’t stop here. Just like your real CV, review and update your ideal CV regularly to achieve the maximum inspiration and encouragement from it.


Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

This is such a brilliant idea, I'm going to give it a try, and write up a proposed CV for 2020. I've already dreamed up a few of the items: three best selling books, post-doc fellowship at Ivy League or Oxbridge University, New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly contributor, TED presenter.

(Yes, I may be a tad ambitious.)

Megan said...

Rachel - Tad ambitious, shmad ambitious. I think if we are to start limiting our ambition, we might as well get out of the game. Thanks for your input!

Euforilla said...

This is so good!
I might try it ;)

Oh, and I love the new layout and header!!!

Kaitlyn said...

Megan, I love this post! I was just wondering if you have already done this yourself, and if so, could you post yours if you don't feel it's too personal? I would love to try this out, but I've never written a CV before so I'm not sure how to approach it! Great post as always, you're fantastic! :)

Marthe said...

Great post, Megan!

Diane said...

What a great post (found via Rachel Hills' blog).

This sounds like the perfect end of year/start of a new year project, too. Looking at the first few sections, I can already see a tendency to say "But I couldn't possibly..." It can be really scary to dream big. But I'm going to try.

sophie said...

I started reading this thinking it was really stupid, and by the end i started to see the benefits - it is a bit like writing a life plan, but from the point of view of you already being there. Like having it written on a CV means you have to achieve it, otherwise you would look pretty stupid at a job interview.

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