Mastering the right tone for maximum CV success

Published: 22 Jul 2015 By Neville Rose

There is an old saying that ‘it is not what you say, but how you say it’. If you are speaking directly with someone you are subconsciously reading more into their body language than listening to the actual words said. As social beings we are innately tuned to gestures like folding of arms, raising the eyebrows, twitches or a smile.


When we analyse body language and intonation in a voice we can infer different meanings for the same words or phrases used by others. For example, “get out of it” could mean

  • ‘Go away before I hurt you’ (serious face or clenched fist)

  • ‘Really, tell me more?’ (raised eyebrows, inquisitive face)

Whilst a CV may lack the subtle nuances and interactions of voice and body language, adjusting the tone can make a huge difference in how the reader engages with it.

So, what is the right tone for a CV?

You want a CV to make you stand out but you don’t want to look too ‘individual’ or ‘different’. You want to appear professional yet at the same time friendly and approachable. You want to create enthusiasm about yourself and achievements without going over the top. The great news is you can do all these things if you get the tone right in your CV.

The four Ps for an effective event CV


There shouldn’t be anything negative in a CV. It should reflect optimism and confidence. Never refer to any experience in a negative sense. Do not give ‘reasons for leaving’ unless specifically asked for and it’s best not to mention redundancy in a CV. Essentially, you don’t want to give the reader any reason whatsoever for not taking your application forward.


It’s time to demonstrate good use of English language. Avoid acronyms or industry jargon. Your CV will be read by different audiences (like HR) so needs to be versatile. You should ensure that your CV looks really professional with no errors or inconsistent formatting. Get someone else to proof read it for you. It is amazing how easy it is to miss your own mistakes.


Try to be naturally friendly, approachable and likeable. These personal traits are as relevant for a CEO as they are for an event coordinator. Be open and give your CV a flavour of your personality. Do not be fooled into trying to be too corporate. This could come across as cold and impersonal.


Your CV should show clear intent. Ensure clarity in everything. Each point should deliver the punch - a message. Each message must have impact. Maintain a logical sequence in how you present your points. Keep a lively pace throughout.

It is not surprising that employers pay great attention to the tone of a CV as it is seen as a reflection of the candidate’s personality. It is one of the key ways of creating a point of difference for yourself. Follow the four P rule and you should be well on your way to getting the tone of your CV pitch perfect.

This article is written by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers, the official CV writing partner to Event Job Search. CV Writers specialise in CV writing for event professionals and can help with CVs, Linkedin profiles and cover letters. In addition to a Free CV review, CV Writers also publish Perfect CV, a professional CV writing toolkit.

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