CV: Relevant or Not to Bonus Reviews?

This topic may seem out of step in the current Covid climate, however some companies are trading profitably and doing well. Apart from this, annual reviews are still a fact of professional life. 


In answer to the question posed in the title; Yes! 

Bonus and salary reviews can be a bit of a minefield. Post review complaints are usually voiced in terms of “feeling” a review was “unfair”. I have heard this many times as a recruiter and CV Adviser.

Given thought, it seems there is a way through. Surprisingly, it comes from a well written CV. 

Before exploring this topic and the suggestions that follow, it’s worth identifying the exceptions and who this might apply to.

This article applies mainly to positions able to influence operational and commercial outcomes at managerial levels, but not necessarily at Board level. 


Exceptions are those in Sales, Marketing and Production, or C Suite such as CEO and CFO. Here the bonus structures seem to be well defined in most businesses and written into employment contracts.

The other important exception is when a business is in distress, having to restructure or not generating sufficient profits to contemplate bonuses or salary rises in reviews.

Reviews and issues

For some, for whom this article may well be relevant, bonus structures seem to be well less defined and this is where the issues can arise as in the following illustrations.

An individual may have met performance objectives; the company met its Key Performance Indicators; and yet the employee “feels” that the review was not satisfactory in that they should have received more. 

In contrast, the reviewer may “feel” that they have gone to lengths to produce a “fair” review and is subsequently perplexed by an unhappy employee. How then can each side successfully navigate through this minefield and achieve a review that is “right first time”? 

Suggested solution

I suggest that a solution might be based on a well written and regularly updated metric led achievement based CV in conjunction with company set targets. (I’m not suggesting for one minute that you present a CV at your review!)

The relevance of a CV to bonus reviews is easily demonstrated. Take the view that you as an employee are a Capital Expenditure proposal. You want a salary package of £x and in return for this investment the company expect a return of £y from your business activities. At senior levels this, hopefully, will be a multiple of your salary. The evidence is contained in achievements you have accomplished in your role. 

The Crux 

The crux of the matter is that; the achievements must include metrics comprised of actual values and percentages. These are the tangible and measurable evidence of your influence on a business. For the purposes of a salary or bonus review these can be transferred to a spreadsheet rather than taking a CV to a review!!  This should also contain brief commentary on issues addressed, the resolutions provided and the end result expressed in £x. 

Totalled up annually, these represent the return on investment that you represent to a company. 

Preparing for Reviews

In preparing for a salary/bonus review it might also be helpful to consider some ratios and convert to percentages. Salary £x compared to your results £y; the bonus of £z compared to your results of £y. These might be considered alongside the company’s prescribed targets and discussed in order to arrive at a fair and equitable review. The results are a matter of record and difficult to counter. If the bonus seems to represent a reasonable percentage of your contribution to the company, then all is well. If on the other hand the bonus seems out of kilter with your contributions, then renegotiate using factual evidence you have prepared. This avoids resorting to comebacks of “feeling” a review to be unfair. Create the business case rather than respond emotionally.


Simple as this all sounds, there is a further complexity. It is that an achievement is rarely down to one individual. It is a joint team effort. This has to be taken into consideration and therefore worth exploring the significant aspects of individual achievement and impact on a business.

  • In working as part of a team how does one express that achievement?

The answer is that if you were part of a large team, then the final quantified metric could be virtually meaningless. However if you were part of a small team of four, then arguably 25% of the metric is down to you. For CV purposes, you state the total metric but mention that you were part of that team of four. For purposes of the review use 25% of the metric.

  • How do I know an achievement is mine?

Simply ask yourself; if I hadn’t been present at the time would the achievement have come about? If the answer is no, then it’s very probably yours. 

  • What is an Achievement

It is a story of an issue, a solution and a quantifiable result. To identify the metrics, follow each story to its logical conclusion there will nearly always be a quantifiable fiscal impact on the business. Often these are expressed as actual figures or percentages in regard to: cost reductions/savings, improved margins, improved working capital and cashflow, increased sales revenues, rebates gained, avoidance of losses, increase in output, reduced machinery downtime, to name but a few areas.

The potential issue which arises in a review is that the company’s set measures may not be flexible enough to acknowledge the full extent of your contributions. Therefore, a fully equitable review may not be possible. That’s a whole different discussion. 

Facts not Emotion

The supply of metrics from your CV, in spreadsheet form, to a manager prior to a review can help in a few ways. It provides factual information that can help with fine tuning in trying to achieve a “right first time” review. Rather than remain passive in awaiting a review, be proactive and prepare to engage. It can provide the means by which to assess your merits to an employer and the equanimity of a review. 

It may also help in negotiating a bonus or salary uplift over and above the original increase. Facts rather than emotions will always be considered more favourably. This then is how a metric led, achievements based CV is relevant to navigating successfully through the sometimes choppy bonus/salary review waters. 

I wish you good fortune when it comes to review time! 
CV Advser in Association with Four Day Week