Key Step to Write Persuasive CV

If you’re applying for a job after a lengthy period of employment, chances are your CV will need some significant updating. Using psychological triggers or ‘nudges’ offers an interesting way to approach refreshing your CV…

When you’re applying for a job after a long period working for one employer, your CV is unlikely to have had much attention in the interim. There’ll be lots of missing information – new skills, achievements, employment experience and even contact details may need to be updated. The design and font may look a little tired too. Time, then, for an upgrade.

Where to start? An interesting way to approach the job of refreshing your CV is through the science of ‘nudge theory’. Simply put, nudges are psychological triggers that help you to influence people towards a specific behavior such as buying a holiday or eating more healthily – or taking notice of your CV, in this case – by appealing in various ways to how our brain is wired to respond. One of the pioneers of nudge theory, Richard Thaler, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Economics.

For example, we have a tendency to respond to evidence of expertise (authority), we like to follow crowds (social proof), and we have a fear of missing out on good stuff (loss aversion). That’s why businesses respectively tell you about the awards they’ve won, put testimonials and case studies on their website, and – as anyone who has booked travel online recently will know – find all sorts of ingenious ways to hint at how quickly their products and services are selling out.

The insights of nudge theory are widely used in social policy, education and marketing. Here are a few ideas on how to apply some well-known nudges to refreshing that essential self-marketing tool – your CV.


We have a natural tendency to defer to people who can demonstrate evidence of leadership and expertise. So mention any awards you’ve won, responsibilities you’ve taken on, areas of expertise you’ve come to own. Engagement stats for any thought leadership content you’ve written, or ROI metrics for any projects you’ve led, will confer authority too.

Social proof