practical cv advice

Practical CV preparation advice

Joseph Sullivan For job seekers, News, Opinion

Feeding the machine

Consider giving your stale CV an overhaul – stop using jumbled documents you’ve been re-editing since college, and devote some actual time to it – it will pay dividends not just on paper, but in your own career thinking.

The humble CV/resume/Linkedin profile is still the main method of application despite advances in technology (apparently Leonardo Da Vinci was the first man to pen a CV for a painting job, and look what he achieved!), so it’s important to spend some time on getting it right.

Let’s talk about reality, and what happens behind the scenes when you feed your CV/resume into the talent acquisition machine.

We conclude with some actionable points on editing your CV/Resume, and explanations why.

We’ll consider both avenues of job application; applying to companies directly, and also working through specialist recruitment agencies.

Artificial Intelligence

In House HR/Recruiters

Recruitment agencies

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Finding your advocates

The goal when posting or sending a CV is to have it read and considered for the job by the person or machine processing it.

HR/Recruitment people have finite time and resources to invest in your application, and have their own career goals.

Think of yourself as a product you are selling.

We should always make it easy for our customers to buy, and we should also make it easy for them to become our advocates.

By gaining advocates with a good CV, both HR and recruitment staff will invest their limited time in advocating for you, relevant to the hundreds of other applicants you’re up against.

The harsh reality is that you’re just a number until you have someone with skin in your game.

Your CV is a sales device, selling the prospect of yourself as a solution to a problem.

Let’s look at the people reading your advertisement.

Your CV is a sales device, selling the prospect of yourself as a solution. on getting an interview

In-house Recruiters/HR – and their goals

Your average in-house person in a medium to large corporate is under-resourced and over-burdened with;

  1. Setting up interviews
  2. rescheduling cancelled interviews
  3. making offers
  4. background checking
  5. meeting with hiring managers
  6. advertising
  7. helping HR outside of recruitment
  8. dealing with disputes
  9. compliance
  10. admin and more admin.

They may have Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs that filter applicant CV’s for keywords and attribute a score (and thus your likelihood of being contacted), or they may look at CV’s directly.

When you look at 100 CV’s per day, you get brutal, fast – there is no other option.

They will take active ownership of the process for you , if you LOOK likely to help them achieve their personal goals and KPI’s (it’s all about looks at this stage) – helping hiring managers find the right people for their teams.

They will send thank you letters to those who didn’t pass the initial screen.

For better or worse, the reality is that you’re just a number until you have someone with skin in your game.On having your process actively managed

Generalist Agency Recruiters

From a CV processing perspective, a generalist agency consultant’s life is very similar to in-house HR people, just usually without any scoring AI.

They are judged on KPI’s too – just more brutal and indiscriminate.

Some agencies are more rigid than others around billing and KPI’s.

For compliance, applicants and CV’s mean copious admin work.

Their jobs are generally very admin heavy and it isn’t uncommon for a consultant to be working on five to ten different positions at once, in different niches.

Each CV needs to be re-imagined for each client; re-interpreted and summarised; re-written in a different standard format.

(10 positions X 4 candidates for each position X emails X calls X scheduling = death by admin!)

Standing out can be difficult. Doing the basics well with your CV is essential.

What to do before sending your CV, and why

Don’t send CV’s with templated formats and lots of images (for direct applications and agencies).

Database parsers can’t read them, which means your details need to be entered manually; which means details can be missed; which means you may not show up in a search when a new position comes up, or you might not meet a keyword score requirement on a CV processor.

Here’s how to instantly make a friend with the person reading your CV;

Pick a font that’s readable, and use two sizes – 10 to 12, use consistent spacing and only bold titles (Dates, company with link to their website, job title).

Avoid tables where possible. Don’t use Italics, they ruin the flow

Don’t put your contact details in the header.

Stop sending pdf’s and .docx files. Many machines/parsers can’t read them or miss some information, and it takes longer for recruiters (both in-house and agency) to put them into the required format for hiring managers.

Put your CV in .doc format, and spell check and proof read – an agency recruiter will fix it for you but an in-house person could bin you for not showing enough interest.

All CV’s are scanned, including by AI. Have the first three bullet points on each job experience contain your main relevant experience to the position applied.

It takes five minutes to copy and paste these if you have the experience. Don’t bury the relevant stuff.

Ten seconds in many case is all you get – your last job title, length of tenure, and your first three bullet points will be what gets skimmed first.

If the job description you’re applying for has keywords in it (i.e. certain required Systems) and you have experience with those systems, get those words up top of your CV in a short relevant skills area. This is an easy gimme!

Any relevant systems you’ve ever achieved some level of mastery over in your career include them. This is because job descriptions online can be stale (from agencies and companies).

The hiring manager you’re ultimately applying to could be using a new system relevant to your experience.

in general education should come after your name, followed by your skills (particularly for IT applications) – it’s the beginning of your story and establishes your background.

Year, institution, qualification achieved. Most recent education’s subjects and thesis (if you did one) only.

Again, this is disputed but many people feel these are important to include.

They differentiate you from the crowd; show you’re a real person. Plus,you might have something in common with the manager; and ceteris paribus your shared love of stamps or trainspotting might be enough to get you an interview.

Cover letter’s aren’t generally necessary, but can be helpful; only when they are specific to the position, and short (three or four lines max. No one reads the long one’s.

If you must include an image make sure it’s professional and smile , but you don’t have to, and it’s generally considered unethical where demanded.

Remember, until you get into the interview room, your CV is you selling the prospect of yourself as a solution to a problem, to set up a face-to-face meeting to determine if both parties can help each other.

The interview is where you become whole again so approach the application process in stages , keep smiling, and stay positive.

Any questions feel free to ask us.

Joseph Sullivan
Recruitment Director, Compliance & Funds | | Asset management | 01 5563446 | Ireland
Finsearch professional Recruitment manage search & selection projects up to executive level within our specialisms of Asset Management, Compliance and Fintech. We provide permanent & contract solutions.
Practical CV preparation advice
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Practical CV preparation advice
Practical CV preparation advice
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Finsearch Professional recruitment ltd.
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