Recruiter’s Gripe

Chatting to a recruiter yesterday I found the single biggest gripe that recruitment consultants have with candidates that are already registered with them – as opposed to new applicants.

In order to be registered on an agencies books you will have a skill set that applies to their client base, whether it be in media, sales, admin, advertising, motor trade, retail etc. So your CV has worked in getting them interested enough in you to be registered.

When a good recruiter gets a new assignment they will work their agency’s database to find candidates. When they see your skill set looks promising they then want to talk to you, but guess what? You changed your mobile and didn’t retain your number. They can’t call you so they send you an email. But guess what? You changed email address. Net result? You might miss out on the best career opportunity that you’ll ever come across.

2 things you must do:

1. Make sure you have a web email account that you will always keep such as Hotmail or Gmail.

2. When you change your mobile make sure that you port the number. All you need is a PAC code that your existing mobile provider gives you.

Help the recruiter, and you ultimately help yourself.

How long should a CV be?

When I review a CV this is the first issue that I look at, as it is an immediate determination of how good the CV is going to be regardless of content or style. Too long and it won’t get read, too short and the recruiter is left wondering where the rest of the CV got to!

I’ve always maintained that 2 pages is ideal but that going into a 3rd page is not really a big issue – provided it’s good content!

A recent survey by Reed asked their recruiters how long a CV should be and their results back up what I’ve always believed.

A comprehensive 90% of recruiters said that 2-3 pages was ideal, with just 6% opting for 1 page and 3% saying that 4 pages was the correct length.

So, as with many things in life, size does matter. Get it right and you’re in with a chance – get it wrong and your CV may end up in the rejection file.



CV blunders hit jobseekers’ chances of securing employment

Job-seekers are hurting their chances of securing new employment by not spending enough time on their CV, according to a survey.

The most common mistake is sending a general CV to employers, rather than tailoring it to a specific role, according to research by the National Careers Service.

Two thirds of careers advisers said this stopped people securing new jobs.

More than 60% of advisers said spelling mistakes were a common error.

CV howlers

A 17 page CV including every detail from when the applicant was born

Use of wording that the person whose CV it was did not understand because he had paid a firm to produce the CV for him

Using an inappropriate email address e.g. iamgreat@

A CV typed entirely in capital letters

A company name spelt incorrectly throughout the CV

Joe Billington, director of the National Careers Service, said: “People know they are making mistakes, but they are not spending enough time on making sure their CV is fit for purpose.”

“A CV is an applicant’s shop window. With the right advice and support anyone can turn their CV from a careers void into a careers victory.”

Most careers advisers believe people should spend an hour a week working on their CV, but fewer than a third of jobseekers agree.

Examples of the types of mistakes encountered by advisers for the National Careers Service include a 17-page CV, a CV typed entirely in capital letters, and the name of the applicant’s current employer spelt incorrectly throughout.

The report was based on polls of almost 200 careers advisers from the National Careers Service and over 2,000 jobseekers.

The National Careers Service, which provides information and advice on learning, training and work opportunities, says jobseekers should follow some basic steps to improve their CVs:

Ensure the email address you send your application from isn’t quirky as it is not likely to be taken seriously

Check your CV carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes

Avoid common clichés such as “team player” and “results driven”

Make small adaptations to your CV to target the specific requirements of the job you are applying for.

via BBC News – CV blunders hit jobseekers’ chances of securing employment.

“Successfully” – is this the most overused word in a CV?

Recently I have noticed the prevalence of the word “Successfully” in CVs to describe an achievement.

Why do people use it? Probably because they’ve read a list of “Power Words” to use in a CV that they believe will give it more impact, but this doesn’t really work. Why not? Well it’s just too generic and without substantiation it doesn’t really mean a great deal.

A good (read poor!) example would be:

(A) “Successfully implemented a new system of quality control in widget production”

Great, but what did it do? – that’s what interests an employer.

A much better version would be:

(B) “Implemented a new system of quality control in widget production that reduced defects from 5% to 2%”

Even better would be:

(C) “Reduced manufacturing defects from 5% to 2% in widget production by implementing a new system of Quality Control”

And even better still:

(D) “Saved £50,000 per annum by reduced manufacturing defects from 5% to 2% in widget production with the implementation of a new system of Quality Control”

In that last example the word “Successfully” would actually be hard to include!

As you can see we have initially moved the focus to the outcome of the implementation by putting in the fact that a reduction from 5% to 2% was achieved in (B).

Then we change the emphasis again by putting the outcome at the beginning in (C).

Finally, we really beef it up by putting a monetary value to it in (D).

So you can see that the effect of taking out “successfully” and quantifying the outcome (in 2 ways) has taken this achievement to a whole new level.

Beating the recruitment machines

Very interesting article from the BBC about online CVs and how to optimise your CV:

Many of the biggest companies in the world are using software to recruit their workforce, so how can you beat the odds in the most competitive job market in history?

If you take the time to fill in a job application, you might think someone would at least have the courtesy to actually look at it.

But as more and more job applications are made online, companies are increasingly turning to computer programs to help manage the load.

This means it’s as likely as not it won’t be someone vetting you – but something.

These programs, called applicant tracking systems, scan your CV to decide whether you move on in the process or fall at the first hurdle.

via BBC News – Beating the recruitment machines.

Free CV Writing

Will anyone write you a free CV?

We seem to be getting a lot of “hits” from people searching for a completely free CV writing service.

I can assure you that there is no-one out there who offers free CV writing!

There are plenty of websites that initially say that you can make a CV free of charge but this is a honey-pot. They draw you in to using their site and you then spend an hour or two putting the information in that they tell you to (and it looks really slick) and when you get to the end you find that you’ve produced a CV – you just can’t have it!

In order to download the CV that you’ve invested time and effort in creating they want your credit card details.

We often get to see these CVs for review and they are uniformly pretty rubbish. They are all in very similar formats and, whilst they do make sure you have all the basic requirements of a good CV in place, the content has been written with all the usual mistakes that we see.

If you genuinely want a free CV then there are lots of basic templates out there that you can download free of charge and just fill in the blanks. Your only investment will be your own time, but you will not have addressed the underlying issue of most CVs which is that the content is not written in a way that sells you.

Using Headers in a CV

Lots of people use headers in their CV for putting in their contact details and on the face of it, it’s a good idea since it gives you a little more space on the page for content.

However, you could be making a massive mistake with your CV if you do this.

The problem arises with the scanning software used by the job boards and the way that they can read a CV. For some reason (it’s probably very technical!) they don’t scan the text in a header – just the body of the CV – so when a recruiter is searching through Monster or Reed they come across your CV and think “great! I’ve found a perfect candidate”, but then they can’t ring you as your telephone number was in the header.

In itself this is not an insurmountable problem because you probably had to give them your email address when you registered so they can contact you that way, albeit a little delayed.

What’s worse though is if your postcode was in the header. All recruiters search databases based on location anchored around distance from the potential employers postcode and if your postcode is in the header, guess what? That’s right, they won’t even see your CV in the first place.

So, don’t use headers, or footers for that matter, in your CV!

CV Services

We’re not just a CV Writing Service!

There’s more to writing a CV these days than just putting your education and career history onto 2 sides of A4 with a Personal Statement at the beginning.

Gone are the days when the only time you applied for a job was when an advert appeared in the jobs section of the Telegraph or the Grauniad (that’s a deliberate error!) asking you to send in your CV with a covering letter. Nowadays you’re much more likely to see a vacancy on Monster, CV Library, Reed or one of the other seemingly myriad job boards and apply on-line.

At the other end of that e-mail your CV will be looked at by someone who is under a great deal of time pressure and hasn’t got the time (and possibly inclination) to dig through the details of all your career to find the nugget of information they’re looking for. If your CV is hard to read – it won’t be read.

Your CV needs to actively sell you and be specifically aimed at the role you’re applying for. That’s why we don’t just write a CV for you, instead we create a document that you can easily edit and tailor to suit those job applications and we’ll advise you on how to do that.

The whole process starts with getting the free review we do as a starting point for all of our CV Services, just click here and upload your CV along with a note telling us about the type of job roles you’re looking for.

The other aspects of our CV services cover some of the newer aspects of recruitment such as LinkedIn and CV Optimisation for on-line recruitment – we’ll cover those in another post!