Automotive Management 16/10/90
Like it or not, and despite the protestations of many in the field, recruitment is an imprecise art. True, there are many developments that allow us to be more scientific but still the face-to-face interview is the most important part of the process. The problem for the candidate is securing that interview, and a properly prepared CV is essential.
It is tempting to think that your carefully prepared life story will be studied at leisure by a highly trained manager with an intimate knowledge of your industry. In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth, and if your CV is not instantly able to do its job when it arrives with 300 others, the right person may never even get to see it. It will end up in some secretary’s bin!
Never forget that preparing a shortlist is a negative job.
“Always work on the basis that you have 30 seconds to make an impact” Employers will often screen out those they don’t want to see before arriving at a hard core of more or less suitable applicants to meet. The more reasons to give them to reject you, the more often it will happen.
Keep in mind the aim of any CV – initially to secure that vital interview and thereafter to act as a quick reference document for the interviewer. You can say everything you need in a maximum of two pages – if you go beyond this you are saying too much or your layout is wrong. Avoid double spacing and capital letters to try to pad it out, for it is difficult on the eye. Just stick to sensible, well laid out typing.
You need to say why you are different to everyone else but meet the criteria. In a previous article I discussed how to sell yourself and here it is crucial. Concisely and clearly state what you have achieved using, where possible, objective yard-sticks. Avoid trivia, making judgements that cannot be backed by fact, and above all avoid the job descriptions, give only responsibilities that are quantifiable in terms of staff, turnover or profit, do not fist duties, except if they are relevant and unusual for the position.
Always work on the basis that you have 30 seconds to make an impact. If someone reading it for the first time takes longer to work out who you are, where you live, how well educated and qualified you are, who you work for and in what capacity, then throw it away and start again. Discarding it is just what a hard pushed recruiter may do, so make sure all this information is on the front page.
In terms of personal data, your full name and address should appear on both pages in case, any get detached, and the following data is also necessary: home phone number; date of birth; marital status and number of children; driving licence; languages; professional qualifications.
Positively avoid information such as height and weight – they are irrelevant and can only work against you if you happen to be taller, shorter, fatter or thinner that a particularly conscious employer!
Education deserves its own section, but not a large one. Detail briefly your secondary school with number of CSE, 0 levels and A levels if applicable. Higher education and degree, diploma or certificate subjects should be given with your grade or class. Nothing more should be necessary unless you hold a particular position of responsibility, such as head of school.
Finally, your employment history should give greatest prominence to your most recent position, which should cone first, working back through previous jobs. Each section should be titled clearly with the relevant dates, the company name and your most senior position. Previous moves within the ompany, responsibilities that can he measured and tangible achievements should also be detailed within the text. Mention any training courses you attended or awards you gained.
As you go back through the years, the less you will need to devote to each position, for it becomes less relevant to your present situation. Check finally that there are no glaring gaps in the record that need explaining and get someone else to check your spelling. (Please note that CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, note its spelling if you are going to use it).
As a final thought, some of my pet hates in applications received are:
* Documents over four pages long – my record is 27 pages which I still have not had time to read.
* Whole pages taken up with 11+, 0 and A Level passes and grades – a complete waste of time.
* Plastic folders or binders, which make it difficult to file or photocopy the documents. They generally get discarded, leaving ugly punched holes.
* I cynically feel that the more colourful the paper, the less colourful the candidate – stick to white.
* A front page that contains a name, address and an “in depth profile?’ of the candidate. I have not read one yet that impresses or persuades me that I must meet the person. It irritates me to have to turn to the second or third page before finding what I consider to he relevant.
* No dates at all, especially no date of birth. The assumption will be that this fails outside the period 1900-1980.
A properly prepared CV ready does stand out, at least 85% of the ones received here fall down in more than one aspect. Keep it simple, concise and intelligible and you will he well ahead of your rivals – you will make my life easier as well.