Introducing the real you

The current standard

We mentioned in an earlier article about Upwork profiles that clients expect to see the type of portfolio where you list your past experiences in a simple way. We’re in a sort of general consensus these days, that a CV is a tabular outline of your past experience, like a calendar schedule of the places you’ve been and the jobs you’ve done. While this might cover the spread, and give the basic information that clients expect to see, it’s extremely impersonal and not at all reflective of who you are as a person and as a freelancer.

Depending on the country you grew up in, you might have a different understanding of what a CV is supposed to look like, and what it’s supposed to convey. In countries like the UK, a CV is a short overview of your skills and should not exceed two pages. In the US, CVs are usually longer and include a list of miscellaneous work and special skills. However, this is still an attempt to shoehorn your accomplishments into a list, in a cold and impersonalized way. We’d like to advise you on how you can head in the other direction, and write a CV that is reflective of your own personal experiences. We want to help you to truly flesh out the story of who you are and why you’re special.

Your story

Think back to one of the many times in your professional career when you were faced with a problem. This could have been an issue with the chain of command, a matter of no-supply, or a simple SNAFU that you had to contend with. Ask yourself: “How did I go about solving the issue? What was my contribution? How did I react?”. These are the first questions you’ll want to start to answer for yourself before you start writing your new CV.

Write down several of these experiences – as many as you can remember, and make sure to write down all the details that you can remember. Write down how you felt when you ran into these problems. Be specific on your perceptions of these issues. How did these problems help you grow? What did you learn about yourself and others? What changes did you implement in your own work chain and in others’ to ensure the issue wouldn’t come up again?

The Structure

Once you’ve got a good few pages of experiences, it’s time to trim down. It doesn’t really matter how you decide to format the CV. It can be a list of past job positions or a bit more of an essay. What matters most is that people who read it can easily find what they’re looking for.

Keep in mind that people will be a bit surprised when they first read your CV. After all, they’re used to cold and simple, and you’re giving them warm and in-depth. You could expand on the tabular approach and develop it further with some commentary. Here’s an example of how that might look:



Position: Marketing Manager

At: MarketCorp LLC

June 2010 – April 2013

My responsibilities

I was tasked with improving and maintaining the PPC campaigns of several eCommerce clients, with monthly reviews of revenue and expenditure.

The challenge

The hardest part of this job was finding new and innovative ways to cut down on costs while staying within the standardized Google Ads PPC framework.

My approach

I made great strides with several of our clients in geographic and income divisions with different ad types. When further budget optimization became impossible, I suggested that we diversify our ad types for specific subsets of our demographic.

  • The most pertinent example was my decision to cut out textual link ads to our client’s website for particular low-earning neighborhoods. Instead, we funneled those customers directly into a call campaign, greatly reducing overhead. 

Important takeaway

You’ll notice that the above example isn’t that far off from the standard list-like CV formats you’re used to, but it’s a step in the right direction. The general idea behind this approach is to dig into yourself and find the best way to present yourself. The imaginary freelancer that we wrote this position experience for, for instance, is a person that prides themselves on their innovative skills. You might be different.

You might be the kind of freelancer who is creative and thinks of visual ideas. – Promote that. Maybe you’re the kind of person who values teamwork above all else. – Talk about your team building skills. There’s no wrong way to go about this, as long as you truly capture the essence of who you are and how you do business.

What’s the point?

No matter how experienced you might seem, clients are always going to see you and your peers as a dime a dozen – because you are. You are absolutely not the best at what you do. Sadly, no-one is. The only thing you have going for you is that you’re the only person who truly knows what you can do, and you need to leverage that as much as possible. Your most beneficial quality is your uniqueness and your originality. Nurture these fully in your CV and your general presentation, and you will stand out – not as the best at what you do, but as the best at being yourself. No-one is ever going to be better than you at being who you are.



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