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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Inward investment into Wolverhampton is just what is needed. Now's the time for applicants to sharpen the CV.

CVs have become clich├ęd and arid productions telling us little about the applicant. Quite simply, they just don't do you any favours. An opportunity to get that job is wasted.

A client came to me yesterday seeking a makeover for her CV. These are hard times, recession, rejection and redundancy making the application process more stressful than usual.

If ever there was a time for one to raise your game it is now. The reality is that the CV has become sterile and predictable. A format full of business management-speak. Something to glaze the eye. We have created surreal CVs where there is a disconnection between overstated terminology and the reality of the person described.

Where does it go wrong? The introductory “profile” sets the tone. The applicant is described in the third person. This is passive writing at its worst. The CV describes the applicant in a distanced manner. It conjures up a style that makes estate agent prose and a MOT report interesting.

Conscientious, enthusiastic, lively, energetic, ambitious, team-player, self-starter, motivation and time-management are just a few of the well-worn terms lifted from a computerised CV word bank. Nothing to give a flavour of the person described: nothing to give an idea of personality and character then.

The CV before me has been produced by a government-funded agency and it is CV writing by tick box. The anodyne tone continues as we move on to sections describing key skills, capabilities and achievements.

What we need is a format, layout and content which emphasises the person. How about, “What I am like, what I am looking for and what I can offer”? It can still be two pages with key facts and experiences woven in to provide a framework for interview.

The skill comes in planting sufficient seeds in the CV so that the reader sees an interesting person. Stereotyped CVs tend to kill this. CVs seem to have forgotten that they are about real people.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rick Perry's gaffe. We all do it so why was there no plan for when things went wrong?

Republican candidate Rick Perry’s recent lapse of memory in the US Republican Primary debate will join the annals of inept political communication. Endless replays of his gaffe will be played back to aspiring future politicians seeking to hone their own presentation skills. Something to go alongside Nixon and Kennedy or Quayle and Bentsen.

We should stand back a bit and be more measured.

53 seconds of embarrassment may have been the result of tiredness and nerves. Sometimes you just run out of track.

More likely, it is a mixture of over and under-preparation, under-preparation, in the sense of his reported avoidance of interview. He had insulated himself from media and voter scrutiny. Glad-handing and kissing babies are not enough. He had little practice in dealing with real-time questions and what can be thrown up. He delivered the same speech and a monologue at endless stage-managed conversations. He should not have been surprised when confronted with the tighter inquisition in the so-called “televised debates” which are nothing of the sort. Equally, If oratory and rhetoric have disappeared from Parliament in the UK, it is because of the demise of hustings.

Funnily enough, Perry might have come out well if he had adopted the debating strategy seen in the fictional debate in the last series of the West Wing. Candidates threw out the “guidelines” and emerged from behind their lecterns. A fiction but perhaps what the new politics ought to be about.

Perry was probably over-prepared. Candidates use their policy wonks to shape lines of argument and rebuttal. They rehearse detailed responses but the casualties are the sacrifice of spontaneity and character. In their preparations, Perry and his aids forgot to deal with normal human situations when stuff happens: like what to do when you fluff a line.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Who let the cat in? A blinder of a strap line from Wolverhampton City Council celebrating investment from Jaguar Land Rover.

In the competitive advertising and marketing world you really need a splash to catch the eye. Most ads just pass over you.

The private sector has the finance and time to buy in the consultancy necessary.

Councils tend to have a back seat when it comes to the creation of interesting copy for marketing their activities. Not so here.

Came across a startling item in the street today which caught the eye. An in-house creation from Wolverhampton City Council, celebrating the investment of Jaguar Land Rover in its new engine plant on the M54.

This is a city looking for all the good news it can get and the council have come up with a blinder here. "Who let the cat in?" is simple, succinct and savvy.

What makes it good? The initial question-answer device followed by the allusion to the Mafia offer for starters. Company logo and the courage not to use all of the space add a further dynamic.

Finally, the bracketing of the whole ad with the puzzle-solution rhetorical device highlighted in yellow is simplicity itself. This is an ad which really works and someone should be putting it up for an award.