CV Tips – From The Recruiter’s Perspective
Having recently read 79 applications for one role, and 6 for another, I have become a bit blasé about ‘passionate’, ‘committed’, ‘high achiever’, ‘driven’, ‘results orientated’ ….. you see the same words and phrases coming up again and again. And yet these are of course often the qualities the employer wants.
So how to get noticed, and shortlisted? From this side of the desk I’d advise:
- Only apply for jobs where there is an obvious good fit, and if that fit is less than obvious, spell it out in the covering letter.
- Make it look as though you have tried, but don’t try so hard you look desperate (even if you are!)
- Make sure you have addressed the most critical factors that the charity says they want or seem likely to need. And then leave it at that. Despite the recruiter’s best endeavours, the sifting process is so subjective (especially when there are 79 applicants!) that you will never completely second guess what the charity is looking for. Indeed, it was quite interesting processing the two jobs (79 applicants and 6 applicants) at the same time. I was reading the 79 CVs quite quickly, trying to find good reasons to put them on the ‘no’ pile, but I was closely reading the 6 CVs, willing them to be good so we could have a respectable shortlist!
- Be distinctive and individual, without being wacky. Think about the ‘personality’ of the organisation you are applying to. But most of all be yourself. Because what’s probably worse than not getting the job, is getting a job to which you aren’t really suited.
- Similarly, don’t try to hide things that might be, or be seen to be, issues (for example the fact that you live far away from the charity’s office, or you seem to be over-qualified for the role). Far better to get these on the table at the beginning, and address them, than have them come to light towards the end of the process. This might mean that you don’t make the shortlist, but if the issue means that you wouldn’t finally get the job offer, or would find it really hard to take the job if you were offered it, wouldn’t it be better to know that before investing too much time, energy and hope into the process?
- Re-reading those last two bullet points, my final piece of advice is this. “Hold it lightly”. By which I mean, be relaxed about the outcome. There are dozens of reasons why you might not get shortlisted, or indeed not get offered the job. Some of these will be to do with you, but many of the reasons will be to do with the strength of the other candidates applying for the role, and with the less tangible attributes that the charity may be looking for (consciously or unconsciously). For each vacancy there can only be one winner. But in this market, not being a winner absolutely does not make you a loser!
If you would like to talk with David about Action Planning’s recruitment services for hard-to-fill posts, you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.