I’ve learned a lot about CVs in the last five years. At Yahoo, I put a team together of 10 new staff and about four interns and reckon I reviewed more than 1,000 CVs in the process. Yahoo had a very strict procedure – every candidate you wanted to recruit had to have been interviewed and reviewed by you as their manager, your manager, someone who would become a peer and someone from another department they would deal with. It made us take recruiting seriously.
I’ve also helped a good dozen people in the last year or so with their CVs.
As a recruiter in the past myself, I know people tend to pull a pile of CVs together then allocate around an hour to reading the batch – either on-screen or having printed them off – to pick their shortlist. So you’ve got less than a minute to impress, realistically.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the process.
- Format: Your print layout counts – add page numbers and your name at the top of every page. Make sure your CV is formatted to print properly. I once hired an intern because her CV was so cool – really well designed and funky. It got my attention (and was only one page) but that just got her to the second review; then, it was her experience that counted.
- Length: According to a poll by Bayt.com in the UAE, almost half of recruiters prefer a CV no longer than a page, and only 19 per cent prefer a lengthy, detailed application. I would argue to keep your CV to two pages unless you really have some experience – and even then, do you need to display it all? If it’s so varied, shouldn’t you have different CVs for different types of jobs?
- Spell-check! It’s unforgivable to have spelling mistakes in this, your marketing of yourself. Particularly when hiring a journalist – if I see a spelling mistake or glaring grammatical error – bin. One person had actually written ‘webiste’. Seriously?!
- SMART (specific, measurably, achievable, realistic, timely): As with setting goals, I want to know specifics of what you did – with what budget, how many people did you manage, what percentage growth? If you can’t give out company figures, give percentages – or say that you can’t say.
- Be ruthless: You’re still working in a job and it’s worth 10 bullet points and a page of your resume? No, it’s not. It’s worth the same space as the previous two jobs. Probably three to five bullet points.
- Keywords: On LinkedIn, do you use the Skills & Endorsements section? Think about those keywords and ensure they’re in your CV and that the keywords from a job you’re applying to are in your CV as well.
- Your internet presence: Google yourself. What social media can be accessed about you? Is it worth setting up a portfolio website for yourself?
On a side note, I would never put my photo on mine but one German friend does, not just because it’s her style but because her name is unisex, so she wants to let recruiters know she’s a girl.
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