One of my sisters moved to America this year. In looking for work, she discovered her 3.5 page CV was too long and needed to be cut down to one page – American style. There are companies charging thousands for this resume service to bring the one page to life with appropriate keywords and career highlights (for the bots crawling the resume databases to grab hold of). What struck me, was the fact that her finished one-page product only really detailed her most recent role, with some of her major achievements highlighted in the margins. My sister isn’t in cyber but the point remains that people do some great things across their careers that make them who they are today. In cyber we have leaders who started as police officers, armed service men and women, scientists, stay at home parents, marketing professionals and more. We have people who have managed big teams, small teams, worked overseas and delivered more than a handful of amazing outcomes.
I guess the name of the document itself is a giveaway. In Britain, the document that you use to apply for a job is called a CV, standing for ‘curriculum vitae’, which in Latin means ‘(the) course of (my) life’. In America, this document is called a resumé, which is basically French for ‘a summary’. In Australia, we tend to use these terms interchangeably with document length varying from 2 pages to 10+. Long CV’s are never helpful and it could be argued that for the ease of the employer, limiting to one page and some tight tailoring for the specific role you are applying for would work to everyone’s advantage. But I wonder if the one-pager while efficient, reduces the opportunity for the candidate to truly shine?
A CV/resume is a window into what the candidate sees as important and can help with job and cultural fit*. What do they see as priority content? Some might lead with accolades, certifications, companies they have represented, or technical achievements. There is no right or wrong, but a CV is much more than a historical document. As a hiring manager, are you clear about what you expect from this document? Do you want one page that shows how well they can break down complexity into simple, punchy messages? Or do you want 4-5 pages so you can better understand them before the interview? A great analogy is that Boards and committees these days are looking for ‘a strategy on a page’ and ‘a project on a page’ for fast, succinct consumption of key data. Is the same true for hiring – do we need a ‘profile on a page’?
While decade old experience may not all be relevant, someone’s career journey has made them the professional they are today. Given that how the candidate represents themselves is probably how they would represent you and your organisation, in your search for security leaders, are you clear about what you need to glean from a candidate’s application?
*I talk more about this in Chapter 10 of my book ‘The Secure CIO’. Buy your copy here