There are lots of differing opinions out there on how to write a CV but given that I have been reading CV’s for the past 17 years I thought I’d share my Headhunters insight into what gets people noticed (positively and negatively!), so you can ensure you stand out from the crowd with a killer CV.
A CV is not a job description. Don’t just copy and paste it in there, people can tell!
Do not write recruitment clichés. No one likes cliches so leave them out of your personal statement i.e. team player/can multitask.
Be conscious of the length of your CV. 2 pages is a myth but any longer than 4 pages is a bit much… if you’ve only been working for a few years it doesn’t need to be very long (remember less is often more) and if you’re an interim with multiple contracts or have a long career history – limit yourself to the past 5 years (and summarise the rest in one-liners).
Don’t add silly template formatting or photographs. It doesn’t get you noticed and can put people off! (All recruitment firms format your CV into a standard format and if you are an independent who does this yourself – like me – it’s annoying to sort out the mess!).
Writing a killer CV is all about selling your experience better than everyone else who sits in that pile on the recruiter’s desk! How do you expect to differentiate between yourself and 20 other applicants who have all likely done a similar role to you?
The past 5 years of experience are typically the most relevant, this is the experience that employers will want to discuss and should form the bulk of the CV:
Focus on outcomes rather than inputs. Every project manager manages key stakeholders, but a great project manager influences them to ensure delivery of the project on time and within budget.
Great people make a difference in their role. Yes, businesses hire people to do a job, but what gives you the edge? What have you done in past roles, that has added value? Use business metrics to quantify the impact and to demonstrate your commercial understanding.
Tailor your CV for the role. Make sure you have read the job description for the role you’re applying for and highlight relevant areas of your experience that match this (yes this is basic stuff, but it often gets missed). You can do this in a cover letter (I don’t think many people read them these days) so my advice is to ensure you put it in the CV (it is okay to have more than one CV that focuses on different aspects of your experience).
Get someone senior to critique your CV. Before you send it anywhere, get someone more senior than you to read your CV, would they hire you based upon it? Make sure you allow them to be critical. If not, why not? What’s missing?
Finally, get yourself out there! There is no point writing a killer CV if no one’s going to see it…
To discuss further or get help with your CV you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.
We are in the 21st Century and candidates SHOULD be at the centre of what we do. Let’s be real for a moment. Candidates are key to our success – they are the one thing that stands between success and failure as a recruiter.
But I would be bold and say 40% of recruiters treat their candidates like shit. Treating a candidate badly can destroy the reputation of you/your business. Any press isn’t always good press and trust me candidates talk. And they talk even more when they have had a bad experience.
So, here’s what not to do:
1. Sell them the dream…
I get it…recruitment marketing is a hot topic right now, everyone is getting training on how to write engaging job adverts, how to be witty and get candidates attention etc. That doesn’t mean you have a to be a billy bullshitter. Don’t sell the candidate the dream – unless of course, the job is Chief wine taster at an exclusive hotel in the Bahamas – because who would turn that down?
Anyway, my point is, be honest with a candidate when talking about a role. Yes, tell them all the good things about the role, but tell them all the bad things too! Talk them through the client’s challenges and shortcomings.
Jobs aren’t all about flexible working and table tennis tournaments, sometimes companies are in a bad situation, don’t have the best brand etc. and that’s ok, in fact, some people like that about a job!
2. Force a candidate into a role they aren’t sure on
Picture this. After hours of searching on LinkedIn and your job boards, you come across the holy grail of candidates. Your purple squirrel, glittery unicorn, whatever you want to call them. They are the perfect candidate for your role.
You pick up the phone, excited to tell your candidate about their dream job. But to your shock, they aren’t keen.
Newsflash. Just because they are perfect for the role, doesn’t mean the role is perfect for them. Respect their decision.
Don’t try and push them into going for an interview. Don’t even push them to apply if they aren’t keen. You look desperate and pushy.
You risk them being offered the job and turning it down, or worse, you risk them leaving in that elusive rebate period. You also risk them thinking you are a bit of an idiot and that you only care about your fee.
3. Drag your candidate into an ownership war with another agency
It is the most frustrating thing in the world when you spend time qualifying, meeting and briefing a candidate on a role, send them over to your client…only to get the dreaded email response.
‘ We have already received this CV from Cowboy Recruitment, sorry’.
The candidate has not been spoken to by Cowboy Recruitment about the role (they claim!) so doesn’t know how her CV is already in the process.
There are two ways of dealing with this:
– Politely step away from the situation and allow the candidate decide how they wish to proceed in the process.
– Demand that the candidate calls the other recruiter immediately and tell them how terrible they are, whilst simultaneously emailing you to confirm that you have the right to represent them on the role.
I advise the first. Step away and allow the candidate to decide how they process. Naturally, there is some subtle influence you can have on this, but doing the second option makes you look like a petulant teenager.
Candidates also don’t need the reminder that they are simply just a fee to you – it makes you look greedy. Show them you are supportive and have their best interest at heart.
4. Call your candidate in the morning on the day they are due to start their new job and then every day for the next 3 months
Your candidate isn’t an 18-year-old teenager who may or may not turn up to work, depending on how pissed they were the night before (apologies to any sober, reliable 18-year-olds).
You don’t need to ring them the day they start their job. A simple call the afternoon before, to check they have everything they need or the following day will suffice.
Candidates are intuitive, they will sense that the fact you are calling them every day means they are a flight risk. Also, their first few weeks are really full on. Give them some space and allow them to settle in, then check in with them.
5. If your candidate doesn’t get offered the job….ignore them
In my opinion, this is the worst possible thing you could do to a candidate and it is the most damaging thing for your reputation.
Nobody really likes to tell a candidate they didn’t get the job…but it is not acceptable to ghost them. Other unacceptable ways of delivering feedback include emailing, leaving a voicemail, or getting your resourcer to give the feedback instead.
Don’t be a terrible human being. Your candidate has worked hard for you, they have understood the brief, done their research, spent 2-3 hours of their time with your client to represent you to the best of their ability. The least they deserve is some honest feedback.
6. Give vague feedback
Almost as crappy as giving no feedback, is giving vague feedback. If you are giving feedback on your opinion to a candidate, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.
Think their CV needs some work? Tell them.
Don’t think they interview well? Tell them.
They don’t have the right skills for the role? Tell them.
You get the gist.
A separate challenge is when a client gives vague feedback about a candidate. It is ok to push back on your client and ask for further detail or examples of what the candidate did.
Feedback should be constructive. Tell them what they did well, where they fell down and how they could improve.
Candidates may not always agree with the feedback, but they will be appreciative of the feedback nonetheless.
7. Only communicate by email
If you are afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a candidate, you are in the wrong job. Pick up the phone and speak to them, what is the worst that could happen? It takes as much time and effort to speak to someone on the phone as it does to type out that email.
Contacting people exclusively by email is impersonal, impractical and to be totally honest, just bloody lazy! I don’t care if your candidate isn’t based in the UK and there is a time difference, or if they are travelling, or you are ‘super busy’…pick up the phone!!
Now I’m sure some of you are reading this, thinking it all seems pretty obvious. I’m also sure a lot of you reading this are guilty of doing one of the above things.
We are all guilty of letting standards slip from time to time, but let’s do our best not to become one of the clichés in those recruitment bashing posts we see on Linkedin!
For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on email@example.com.
You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.
I recently published an eBook called “Why Top Performing Shared Services Talent Won’t Join Your Business & What To Do About It”. In this eBook, I explain why it is that big reputable brands (which have world-class shared services centres) still find it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent. Even though these brands may believe that “everyone loves our brand and it’s a nice place to work…” this isn’t necessarily the truth.
Is that the message you are giving off to a passive candidate market?
With over 75% of shared services professionals passively looking (and not actively seeking) a new role, then it’s no wonder that it’s difficult to attract and retain the best talent!
Delivering the right message to shared services professionals
Candidates are being increasingly selective over their future employer, and considering that Monarch Airlines, Carillion, Toys R us, House of Fraser, and Maplin (just to name a few!) have gone into administration during the past year, why would you want to leave your cushy job where you’ve worked for years, and where Betty knows how to make the perfect cup of tea, for somewhere that isn’t as secure and may be at risk of joining all of the companies mentioned in the previous sentence?
It’s important that shared services give off the right message, follow the right process and keep up with their competitors when it comes to recruiting.
The most desired Shared Services assignments in the past 12 months that I’ve managed have been within newly created roles. But why is this?
Is it because there isn’t an expectation there, or because they feel the company are performing well by creating these new roles?
Newly created positions offer a chance for candidates to put their stamp on a role and make it their own. As these positions are created due to demand for a certain skillset within a business, they also provide candidates with a sense of feeling wanted and allows them to see these roles as a challenge and the chance to pursue something new.
It’s all about how you deliver the message, and how this message is perceived by your potential future employees!
So the big question is, how do you excite people to work for your shared service centre if the role is replacing someone who lacked motivation, was bored and didn’t enjoy coming into work….
It’s all in your message.
How you get this right in your Shared Services team!
And I have just the thing that can help you with this… In my free eBook, I examine the steps you can take to stay ahead in the field.
How often have you read an amazing HR consultant CV only to find that the candidate is much better on paper than they are in real life…
Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience – where you’ve decided to give a bit of a rubbish CV a chance to then be blown away once you’ve met the candidate!
I was recently talking to a client who, after recruiting for a number of Interim HR roles, has come to the decision that you can’t judge an interim on their CV. They had interviewed a range of candidates and actually found that the candidate they offered the role to was the least attractive on paper.
While CVs can be a great indicator of a candidate’s potential, it’s important to recognise other factors as well in order to give a complex and more rounded view of the individual you’re putting forward for a role.
I think it is also important to recognise that more often than not, HR professionals are very modest folk. They tend to downplay their experience and not really shout about their achievements. By contrast, I also know a number of interims whose CVs are ‘all singing, all dancing’, but having met and probed that individual, there is little substance to back up the experience.
There are certain traits that don’t really translate onto a CV that are often crucial to a position, such as how well they deal with change, how well they interact with large groups of people, and of course the ever elusive ‘cultural fit’.
It’s only when you meet a person and have the chance to talk to them that you will get a sense of these things.
A CV can only really be used as a checklist to tick of the skills someone has against the requirements of a role, however, it’s important to recognise that you don’t interact with a CV every day in the office. It’s not a CV that offers to make you a cuppa – it’s a person!
People are much more than a one-sided word document. It’s difficult to give a flare of personality to a formal record, especially if you work within a traditional industry. Meaning that often the true character and spirit of a person can get lost during the early stages of the recruitment process.
The standard job application practice that includes a CV and a cover letter can be very weak and doesn’t really give you much to go on regarding the quality of a candidate. Very few people thoroughly read a cover letter and most are likely to simply scan your CV for key areas of experience they are looking for to suit the role they are recruiting.
It’s also common for candidates to have their CV ‘proofread’ by multiple people before sending it off to a recruiter, so it’s more likely that your CV is a reflection of your mates’ clever editing rather than your rich career history.
It’s important for both candidates and clients to trust their recruiter and see this process as a collaboration and a partnership. A CV should be seen as an effective ‘first touch’ in the candidate screening process. And they do still have their place in recruitment, as simple things such as spelling and grammar errors can be a clear indicator that someone isn’t right for a role.
I can recall a number of occasions where…in true Love Island style, I have said to a hiring manager, ‘Now this guy doesn’t look like your type on paper, but…’. The hiring manager has gone on to hire the HR consultant because ultimately they have trusted that I have done my job properly and I am confident that they are right for the role.
But of course, this topic begs the question – if you can’t judge a HR consultant by their CV…how do you decide who to speak to and qualify? Whose CV do you send to your stakeholder and who’s do you reject?
For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here
Help writing a CV – that won’t leave you cringing for years to come…I recently received an email from an online job board that I hadn’t used for many years informing me that my account would be permanently deleted if it wasn’t reactivated again soon.
It had been 8 years since I had last used the site, and after logging back in I quickly realised that I hadn’t thought my old CV through at all, I’d just thrown as many responsibilities as I could onto a document without considering tailoring it to each company that I was sending it to!
Now, looking at recruitment from the other side of the fence as a recruiter, here are my guidelines for creating a CV that won’t embarrass your future self…
Think about the job you are applying to, and not just the job you are doing.
After your name, phone and email, you need to write 3-4 very punchy lines describing your key strengths in a style that will also give a flare of your personality.
You could also include your LinkedIn profile, providing that it’s up to date and you’re using a professional profile photo. A list of key skills can also be useful, as recruiters may search for keywords within your CV.
Don’t worry too much about throwing in lots of clichés or buzz words, instead, write a paragraph that tells people about your skills.
“An accomplished chartered accountant, trained from a big 4 accountancy practise before moving into a blue-chip manufacturing business. Experience of working in a fast-paced, commercial environment, and more recently within a shared service centre. Fluent in 4 languages with excellent analytical skills.”
After a section on education and languages, you’ll have a summary section which should be divided into 3 elements: roles, industries, and competences. Often recruiters won’t carry on past this section if these don’t correspond to the brief, so it’s crucial that you clearly lay out all of the necessary information in this section.
Following sections of your CV could include:
Tools & technologies (if relevant for your job)
Career history with your title, company, and years of service highlighted in bold
Relevant roles or projects (I used to just list in order the jobs I had done with a description, but now I only list relevant information and tailor it to the brief)
A list of some responsibilities in bullet point form. These can be elaborated on at the interview stage.
Results and achievements.
Also, other important things to consider are:
Email address – ensure that this is a professional address, and not based on a previous nickname
Just use text – sometimes recruitment portals won’t display images, so using a logo may change the layout of your CV.
Formatting – ensure you use the same fonts, bold headings and bullet points.
PROOFREAD – ensure that you have read your CV more than once, as correct spelling and grammar is crucial. Your CV states you have strong attention to detail, yet you can’t spell ‘liaise’ correctly!
It’s important not to worry too much about the length of your CV! As long as you keep a clean, well-structured and easy to navigate layout, then having a CV that is more than two pages long won’t be a hindrance.
To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.
Hiring an Interim Executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.
Job hunting can sometimes feel like an odious long-winded task. Everything is questioned, from how you dress at an interview, to why there is a gap on your CV, to why you may have decided to go to university to study Zoology, but are now looking to focus on a career in marketing. Before the stage of being questioned is reached, however, it is always good practice to alter your CV to suit the job role that you’re applying for, as it outlines your passion for the role. But how do you do this efficiently?
1. Is it unique?
To ensure your CV and cover letter is unique for each role you apply for, it is a good idea to have a master copy that you then use as a starting point for each role. If you are applying for two different industries, then have one master copy for each. Alter the order of your sections to suit the role, it allows the recruiter to scan the CV to see that you do have all they are looking for quickly. If you are applying for a role that requires a university degree, then give this section priority and put it towards the top.
2. What words are you using?
Think about the words, especially the adjectives, which are used within the job specification and mirror them in your skills section in your CV. Put it in a different order to ensure it is not too obvious. Try to use some technical jargon that is relevant to the sector you are working for, for example, if you are applying for an HR role, ‘blue-sky thinking’ may be beneficial to use. Using these words envisages experience, as well as understanding of the sector. Also, try to not overload the CV with jargon or “fancy” words, it can cancel out your understanding and can look a little desperate.
3. Have you carried out a search?
Have a look online for job adverts that are similar to the role you applying to, so you can ensure you have an in-depth understanding of what is required in the position you are applying for.
4. Done any research?
Do a little research into the organisation you are applying for. Find out about their reputation and how they present their culture. This would be beneficial when looking at the ‘interests’ section of your CV. If the company has a ‘work hard and play hard’ culture then there would be no qualms in talking about your social interests. Whereas, if the organisation is one that concentrates on remaining professional at all times, you would then only include a select few of your interests that would suit.
5. Be Positive
Try to not be negative in your CV, it can show that you are lacking self-belief or confidence. We all have something we are working on or want to improve, turn that into a positive on your CV. For example, a job seeker may have basic spoken communication skills when applying for a HR Officer role. It can be stated that the job seeker has a basic set of spoken communication skills but with the passion to learn more.
If you think this role is perfect for you, this will show in your CV and cover letter, so ensure you apply for roles that work for you. As well as making sure your CV is concise, intriguing and interesting, the pointers above should help you to get you that dream job or least get you into the right direction. Make sure no exceptions are made, you never know when luck will strike. Good luck jobseekers!
To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at email@example.com.
You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.