By Joanna Marlowe, HR & Recruitment Coordinator, The Marketing Practice
As you can imagine, working in HR means that I’ve read more CVs than you’ve had hot dinners. The sheer volume that crosses my desk means that you – as a potential employee – have to perform something of a circus trick. A tightrope walk, to be precise. On the one hand, your CV has to conform to a very strict formula. On the other, it must stand out and grab my attention.
If you’re thinking about applying for one of our vacancies, I’ve got some advice that might help you out.
If you’re interested in our grad day, there’s really not much time left to apply. Get a move on.
Do your research
Understand the job inside out and make sure it’s right for you. I’ve had people apply for every vacancy in a company! Those people don’t make the final cut. Jobs are serious things – they require commitment on both sides. Doing your research shows that you’re interested in us as a business, and tells us a lot about your professional approach.
Connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We love that. One of our aims is to improve our social footprint and we’re always interested in who is following us. It’s likely that we’ll be interested in you if you’re interested in us (see above). And when your CV lands, it’ll stand out that much more.
We’re based in sunny South Oxfordshire. Is it somewhere you’re willing to commute to? When we offer you a job, we want you to stay. We want to make sure you are happy, so put some serious thought into why you want to work here and if it fits with your life ambitions.
Make your CV personal
Your CV is a checklist for the role. Personalise it for the job you’re applying for and only include information that’s relevant for the job.
I’ve got a short attention span
So don’t go over two pages. Summarise qualifications and experience into a bullet list and only expand on those relevant to the role. Put important points at the top. Try to avoid big blocks of text – consider how many CVs I go through on a daily basis. If you’ve got a lot of relevant previous jobs only expand on the latest two – keep the rest as headlines.
The opening paragraph
It’s vital (first impressions and all that). If you can, use the kind of language that we use on our website to show you’d be a good fit. Oh, and be concise.
Attention to detail
Make sure you get my name right! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been called Joanne (I’m Joanna). Make sure you run a spell check, and if you can, get someone with a fresh pair of eyes to proof your CV and cover letter to be double sure. Oh, and make sure your font and font sizing is consistent throughout, and that dates are in the same format (12th March / 30-Jun etc.) – something like that can cause a real distraction when you’ve got a pile of CVs to go through.
Stick with the facts
As I won’t be interviewing you, there’s no point trying to impress me with your lifestyle choices or opinions. So don’t include hobbies, your current salary, or even your date of birth. And no sob stories! (You’d be surprised what I’ve read…) none of it’s going to get you the job. Your skills and experience will do that. And don’t put a picture on your CV either – just add your LinkedIn profile so people can find out more that way.
Your CV is always best in a digital format unless there’s a very good reason not to, i.e. if you’re a designer you might decide to hand deliver a beautifully bound portfolio of your work with the CV inserted. There are lots of good digital formats for your application too – we recruited one grad after he sent us a series of short, self-filmed videos explaining why he suited the role.
If you’re asked for a cover letter
Stick to the rules you’re given. If you don’t know what they are – ask. Your cover letter should never duplicate your CV. It’s a chance to explain why you’re the best person for the role. Good writing is a sign of good thinking – so run it past a few people and get their feedback before it lands on my virtual desk.
If you’re not asked for a cover letter
Write a brief paragraph explaining why you’re the right person for the job in your email or alongside your application. Don’t just write “Please find my CV attached.” I hate that!
Don’t be scared to call or email me to check on the progress of your application. Try to keep it to one call – enough to show you’re keen, but not so much as to be an annoyance!
If you think you have what it takes and want to apply for any of our vacancies – and you’ve checked your application against this list of pointers – then send it over to me at email@example.com. Good luck!