Getting the right tone will energise your Planning CV

Written by: Neville Rose
Published on: 17 Aug 2015

The old adage ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’ may be a surprisingly sound reason to explain the success of some CVs over others. As emotional people we are acutely aware of the differences that voice intonation and body language have in allowing us to truly understand what someone is saying to us. This is particularly true in the world of planning whether speaking with colleagues, clients or anyone involved in the planning process.


There are very different meanings that can be attached to quite simple statements. Let’s take ‘get out of it’ as an example. Said in a loud angry voice with a wavy pointed finger the message is clear: ‘You’d better clear off or else!’ However, said with raised eyebrows and an inquisitive look it can mean: ‘Really, tell me more?’ Whilst CVs may lack the sophistication of voice and body language, making adjustments to the tone in a CV can make a powerful difference to the reader’s engagement.

So, what do I need to look out for in my CV?

Your CV needs to have impact, so choose action words that will grip the reader. Words like transformed, driven and accelerated will help to excite the reader about what you have achieved. Focus on the benefits of what you have accomplished rather than giving long rambling explanations of how you got there. Use facts and figures to support your claims.

The four Ps to writing a powerful CV

Of course you want to sound professional yet also tell the reader about your personal qualities. You want to sound confident without appearing arrogant. You want your achievements to be admired without going over the top about them. The great news is, you can do all of this by fine tuning the tone in your CV.


Your CV should be 100% positive. No grey areas. No question marks. You don’t want to raise any unnecessary suspicions about anything. Your CV should radiate positivity throughout. A CV is about getting you to interview and you’ll be surprised at how perceived issues dissolve away once an employer has met and decided they like you.


Your CV will very often be the first contact you make with a potential employer. You want that first impression to be a good one. Therefore, it should go without saying that your CV should be error free. Yet over a third of CVs still contain spelling mistakes. Be consistent with formatting and make sure headings are clearly signposted for easy navigation.


You are unique and it is very important that your CV is stamped with your own personal brand. You need to get across the essence of your personality and of the strengths and qualities you bring to your work. Employers are often looking for the right cultural fit over and above the right technical skills so make sure you read the person specification carefully.


With less than 30 seconds for your CV to work its magic, you need to generate energy and pace. Use bullet points to get key messages across quickly and powerfully. Make sure there are no blocks of copy that the reader will likely only read the first couple of lines of. Use whitespace to make the CV easy on the eye so the reader can scan quickly and absorb important points.

In the competitive world of planning, you have just one chance for your CV to impress. Managing the tone of your CV enables you to pitch the CV just right for the audience to really tune in and engage with it. Follow the four Ps above you should be well on your way to ensuring your CV stands up against the rest.

nevilleCV Writers are the official CV writing partner to Planning Jobs and specialise in CV writing for planning professionals. As well as a CV writing service they can help with Linkedin profiles, cover letters and interview coaching. CV Writers also publish Perfect CV, a professional CV writing toolkit.