Don’t Judge a HR consultant by their CV

Don't judge a HR consultant by their CV
Credit: New Girl, Fox

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


You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here