Your 30 Second CV

(This article originally appeared at

We have all been in that awful situation where, in the office or at a networking event, a polite enquiry about what someone does turns into them droning on and on, leaving you with the thought that the only way to escape is to drown yourself at the bottom of your wine glass.

What’s even worse — we don’t realise that we are often guilty of inflicting the exact same thing on others with our incoherent and rambling conversation.

We are talking about our lives, our achievements and our goals and as we are interested in them, we naturally think that other people are just as interested.

They’re not.

You need to be able to condense yourself down to efficiently tell your listener enough about you, striking a balance between being informative and boring. You need to write a 30 Second CV.


Because, when you meet someone, you need to be able to clearly define yourself. You only have a limited amount of time to make a good or bad impression.

We all pay attention to making sure that we are dressed appropriately for an interview or for a networking event but we don’t take time to make sure that our conversation is just as sharp and smart as our new shirt and lucky tie (or is that just me)?

It surprises me the amount of time that people will spend tweaking their CVs in order to make sure the content is as concise and specific as possible. There are websites wholly dedicated to perfecting the CV but then, when that is done, people don’t take any steps to making sure that they are doing the same for verbal communication!

It doesn’t take long to prepare but creating a 30 Second CV allows you to walk away from an interaction secure in the knowledge that you have left an impression of being someone who knows where they are in life and where they want to go, rather than mumbling a vague set of disjointed ideas that in all honesty, the other person has stopped listening to.

You wouldn’t read through a CV that is five pages long and similarly, nobody is going to listen to you talking for five minutes about your work experience and how much you enjoy tennis except your mother. That’s just life.

You need to compose a handful of sentences which you can deploy in interviews, at networking events, at parties, whenever you are asked: ‘So what do you do’? A clear, cool response that can then be built on if your listener asks you to elaborate on a certain aspect. This will also help to keep conversation flowing.

The three most important questions you need to consider in a 30 Second CV are the following:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What do you want to do?

And it really is as simple as that.

Answers to these three questions are more than enough when at a cocktail party or networking event where you have a limited amount of time to get across as much information as you can before they lose interest or move on to talk with someone else.

You only have about thirty seconds to impress or bore the listener. Use your time wisely.

This is particularly important if it is your first time meeting that person: first impressions count. Following these rules will help to make you memorable, which is half the battle.

You need to condense the answers to these questions into a couple of sentences. They will serve as platforms for your listener to pick out your skills and achievements, as well as your ambitions. It will engage them and they will be more inclined to respond to a sharp, focused response to their question. Perhaps they will offer advice about the next step in your career, who to contact for help with such and such a thing and whether you have considered trying this idea.

You should write your 30 Second CV today and then memorise it, because you never know when you might meet someone who can help you with your career or personal life. I’ve used mine everywhere, from dinner parties to lifts.

Communicate yourself clearly and concisely and show that you are on top of your game. Mumbling and stumbling around your skills and interests will not give a good impression. If you don’t care about promoting yourself professionally, why should anyone else take you seriously?

The wonderful thing as well is that, like your two-page CV which requires editing every so often, so too will your 30 Second CV as you progress with your achievements and change your goals. When you are fresh out of university your 30 Second CV is going to sound a lot more different even a couple of years later when you’ve been working and looking for promotion.

Incidentally, writing a 30 Second CV is also perfect for those rare times you get a date, which you might argue is an even more important time for striking the correct balance between being interesting and boring. It will take practice to see what and how much information you should be giving about yourself.

Taking the time today to compose a few template sentences about You is essential and trust me: it will pay dividends in the times to come.

(This article originally appeared at