In my experience recruiting for two different companies over several years, I have been slightly startled, impressed and sometimes baffled by how people present themselves in their CV’s, appearance for interviews and to us, the recruitment company they initially approach. Over the next few weeks I will be giving hints and tips as how to go about making sure you don’t fall into the obvious pitfalls.
It is worth remembering that when you are applying for a position through an agency, recruiters are going to be just as critical as a prospective employee – albeit we are here to help and give constructive advice that will help you secure the ideal position. A good recruiter knows their client companies, the Human Resources Department, and the hiring manager for the position you have applied. This is the recruiter’s job, and we spend hours/days/weeks acquiring this type of information about our clients. This knowledge can be invaluable, and can give you the edge in getting that much sought after position.
Starting with the CV. A CV is your working history, knowledge and to some extent a presentation of your personality on paper. But nowadays it is better to have this saved and ready to submit initially to a recruiter via email, before you present yourself on the doorstep. Arranging to meet a recruiter first through email is a must, as it allows the recruiter the chance to look through your CV and immediately come up with an idea about you, and the positions they might have available. When the recruiter gets in touch, they will now have a constructive base to talk to you on, giving you a conversation with a purpose rather than an informal “please send me your CV via email” if you do tip up on their doorstep.
On your CV, keep it simple and clean and tailored to the area of work you want to pursue. If you are looking to work as a Graphic Designer, mention your day to day activities under each position you have worked, and most of all start the position with the job title you held – “Top Drawer” is not going to help! Add the dates you worked, and explain any ‘lost years’ you have in between jobs – if you went to explore the world for a year, mention this: a prospective employee will want to know why you suddenly decided to do nothing for a whole year. One CV I saw stated “1998-1999 – “opted out of the whole work thing” – need I say this is an obvious don’t!
The personal details you need to add to your CV should be kept to what is relevant: name, telephone number, and email address, and additionally a Skype ID and Linkedin link if you have them. Add a portfolio link if you are applying for a position where this will be necessary – such as a designer. This should all be at the top of your CV so that you are easily identified and contacted.
Skills, education, awards/certificates and personal interests should be at the bottom of the CV after your career history. If you are applying for a Test Analyst position and your last position was Test Analyst then this is a green flag to a recruiter or prospective employee. This seems obvious but a CV is much like a keyword search – Human Resources will receive a lot of CV’s and this will catch their eye. A GCSE in Pottery will not (intriguing as it is).
Finally, personal interests are more important than many people realise. A love of writing in your spare time might give you the additional quality a company are looking for in a Sports Content Writer, and put you in pole position for that role. Stating (as one person did a few years ago when they submitted their CV to me) that you are particularly interested in meeting members of the opposite sex, won’t!