A recent turn of fortune saw me lifted from the excruciating introspection inherent to job-hunting and dropped onto the other side of the screen.
Going from one extreme (unemployed, uncertain, but uninhibited) to the other (hired, habituated, hardened) serves as a point of reflection. While reading the replies to a job advertisement I recently posted, I have been forced to question what successfully guides someone to the end of a CV.
Some of the stumbling blocks are easily avoided by a simple proofread. In an effort to improve my own CV I have jotted them down and put them here. However, I suspect I am preaching to an audience of great CV-writers, and merely joining the shout of a thousand other recruiters into the void that will never reach those who I suspect need the advice the most.
Forgive the rant to follow. It was a long night reading. Here is my updated CV gospel.
1. Know your recruiter
No, seriously. I am not suggesting it is always necessary to launch a background investigation as intensive as some of the Ted Talks email whizzes suggest, but it really helps to address the intended recipient about the correct vacancy.
If this seems obvious, I will mention that I recently received an application addressed to a John, and I am confident in the knowledge that this is neither my name, nor, despite the softening of rigid gender-binary nomenclature, my sex. The email also referred to a role I wasn't even in a position to offer.
2. Send one mail. Just one. Please.
There is no valid explanation for separately firing off each reference under its own subject. Spam stays spam no matter the title.
3. CV photos always involve a third party
I managed to burn a sizeable second-degree smatter across my face the day before I was due for a passport photograph. Trying to find an existing replacement (against a white background, not smiling, directly facing the camera and displaying both ears) was a fair runaround my phone's camera roll.
Despite this frustration, I am still unsure as to why two-thirds of the CVs I have been sent are accompanied by busty high-angle selfies that crop off the chin. The self-timer icon lurking in most camera settings is underused, but when discovered, saves the need to bother a friend. The benefit to asking a friend, however, is that the resulting headshot is less likely to have that strained expression we associate with the mafia and constipation.
4. How hiring happens
The superyachting industry is a highly saturated and competitive one, as I suspect is increasingly the case in every field when one is starting out. After a vacancy on a 'big white boat' is advertised, most applications will be received and reviewed within a day, usually beginning around mid-morning. Whilst it is still possible to crack the nod at the twenty-third hour, chances are if it's your Mum over Facebook Messenger and she hasn't followed the instructions but makes a point of building you up before you deign to make contact yourself, you haven't made a great first impression. Yes, this happened.
5. A great subject line never hurt
Name - role - key word, preferably some sort of differentiator to highlight why you're the hottest thing since the chilli sauce that sizzled my face. Send.
With more and more gmails erroneously ending up in junkmail, rather forgo the question marks and exclamation points.
What initially separates an impressive candidate from everyone else is their ability to express themselves on paper. It's no secret that I place more weight on words than the average person, but when words are all you have to capture the reviewer in the first two sentences, a foolproof template helps. As does a sense of humour. Try humanise the reader. I wouldn't lead with "Hi...", but something less robotic than "To whom it may concern..." is preferable. It's a delicate balance of using unusual phrases that won't also crop up in the next thirty CVs.
Some adjustments I like:
hard-working stamina / diligence
attention to detail meticulous
ready for the learning curve feet-first into the fray
enthusiastic to apply excited about your call for applications
working with children early education and development
team-player invested in the group
self-motivated love taking red pen to my own checklist
These are my priorities when I review an applicant or, more often, proofread my own CV. I cannot speak for the intensive recruitment process of multinationals and other white-collar corporates. I am still stumped as to what got my foot through the door for my first management consulting interview because the entire experience felt offbeat and labyrinthine. What I do know is that most people I have spoken to dread sending CVs as much as I can now state the recipient dreads reading them.
With a little spellcheck, and a reply to even the unsuccessful applicants, hopefully what often feels like a cattle market can be transformed back into what it really is - the chance for two people who need each other to evaluate whether they could work together to address a problem.
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