I was approached this week by a new client asking me how recruitment works – having been in a permanent role for some years he is looking to go interim and wanted to know what the formula is to make recruiters sit up and take notice of him. There is no hard and fast rule as such – naturally the recruiter has a list of requirements from their client which need addressing in the CV, if your CV does not touch on these requirements then you will be discarded and often forgotten about. So what actually makes a recruiter work for you? For a start you need to really understand your own skill set and how this works in the project environment, clearly contextualising your experience and the project benefits is key to the basis of a good CV. Making sure you apply for roles which meet your abilities will put you in good stead with the recruiter and if you are not quite right for that role you have a better chance of being remembered for the right reasons, as from the start you have demonstrated your understanding of the role itself and are not just applying for anything.
If you have a wealth of experience managing a diverse range of projects then the recruiter needs to see the projects most relevant to the role you apply for, however this does not mean you need to leave out other information. The trick is to present a summary of the types of projects, complexity, budgets and team size / locations / skill sets, then you need to talk about how you deliver, the difficulties you have encountered and your specific aptitude – you may be great with demanding and difficult stakeholders or you may be great at manipulating data or balancing finances. Everyone is different and what the recruiter wants to know is what sets you apart from others. Talk about key achievements, don’t be fooled into thinking that delivering a project on time and to budget is an achievement – you are paid to do this right! Think about how you got there, what hurdles did you overcome, what have you learnt from the project and what measures have you adopted for future delivery?
All of this information needs to be kept to a maximum 3 page but ideally a 2 page CV, it can be difficult to edit and condense this information which is why a second pair of eyes can be extremely effective. We offer a free CV review at The CV Righter where honest and constructive feedback is presented to individuals – there is no obligation to take up the CV writing service however should you decide to take the service up then you will only be charged for a service bespoke to you. If you do not require an entire re-write then you don’t pay for one. The review is performed by a former project management specific recruiter and will be executed as such which will give you a valuable insight into how recruiters actually view your CV.
The main reason job applications are rejected comes down to not demonstrating the right skill set and experience for the job applied for; however there are a number of little mistakes which can put you straight into the rejection pile. When I say little – these are big errors which often get overlooked but should be addressed as a first port of call when proof reading your CV and applications.
Here’s some food for thought:
- Grammar – poorly written CVs are still a major concern for employers, think about writing your reports for senior management, badly written pieces of information in the workplace are not acceptable and by demonstrating poor grammar in your application you are effectively telling the reader that your reports won’t be much better.
- Spelling – spelling mistakes are very common in CVs and with the likes of spell checker in-built into software packages these days, it is unacceptable. Make sure you proof read the entire document carefully and get someone else to do this for you too.
- Incorrect information – do spend time gathering information which is true to your work experience, you will get found out if you are bending the truth as recruiters and hiring managers do check the details out for validity.
- Etiquette – your approach to applications should be professional from the outset, you are being judged from the moment you send in an application. Make sure you add an introduction email in the form of a cover letter not just a line stating; “see attached” or a blank email with your CV attached and if you call to check the email have been received, be professional and polite to all you speak to.
- Following instructions – read the job advert properly, check who you are sending it to, if any additional information has been requested and demonstrate that you can follow instruction.
- Contact details – make sure they are correct and included on your CV; I have seen a great deal of CVs with incorrect phone numbers and email addresses and also CVs with no contact details at all. How do you expect to be contacted if you cannot provide the right information?
- Misguided focus – keep focus on the work history and skill set not on activities out of work and family, you can add a short statement about hobbies to the back of the CV but the hiring managers want to know about you in a work capacity over flying kites at weekend and what subjects your children are studying at school.
- Format – try to keep the document in a professional format, adding colours and clip art is not what the employer wants to see for a professional role – it can detract away from the content and a good deal of databases cannot handle images etc so you will lose them and the format of the CV anyway.
Remember it is not always the best candidates which make the interview short-list – it is often the best CVs! Take time to do the basics and you will notice a marked increase in activity after submitting your applications.