Before you even start writing your CV, it is important to understand what the objective of your CV actually is…
The answer should be to secure you an interview - that’s it. Your CV alone will not land you that dream position although it is a very important document in the process.
We’ve heard clients say, “I can tell a good applicant from a CV” Well, in fact, they can’t. Whilst a good CV will definitely help identify an applicant worth interviewing, it is the interview itself that confirms if the applicant is good, not the CV.
So back to the original statement – your CV secures you an interview. Let’s start with the desired outcome and reverse-engineer the process. In doing so, it encourages thought to be given to the various stages your CV may need to pass through rather than just putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard perhaps would be more accurate).
Typically, there are two processes your CV will go through: either a “DIRECT HIRE” or an “INDIRECT HIRE”.
An advertised role (containing the detail of a named individual (i.e. [email protected]) or a direct referral from a friend/(ex) colleague.
Direct Hire - the reversed process is:
Indirect hire (more common)
Advertising your CV on a job board, sending your CV via an agency or applying directly to a company via a talent attraction medium (i.e. [email protected]).
Indirect Hire - reversed process is:
Most CVs are written with the sole mind-set that only the hiring manager will be reviewing it. In reality, as per the indirect hiring process above, there are often several filters that need to be navigated through before the hiring manager will ever have the opportunity to review your CV.
Writing a CV for a direct approach
Usually, a Hiring Manager will spend around 7 - 20 seconds reading your CV. They will spend this short amount of time deciding whether or not they will spend any additional time reading it more thoroughly.
Most common reasons a CV will be quickly rejected:
• Is the CV well laid out?
Many Hiring Managers do not have time to read large blocks of text – they want facts and achievements and they don’t want to have to search for them. Also, be sure to write about your personal achievements rather than that of your team.
• Are there spelling and/or grammar mistakes?
If you can’t be bothered to ensure that the document aimed at securing you a job is accurate, what can you be bothered with? Should you not possess great spelling or grammar skills, ask someone who has to proof read your CV for you.
• Use a simple and consistent font
Don’t think using a flamboyant font will make you stand out for the right reasons.
• Unprofessional e-mail address
Like it or not, CVs can be rejected if your e-mail address is unprofessional. Use them, if you must, with your friends but your professional CV is not the place for them!
• CV length
Max 3/4 pages. If you’ve had many roles or you are (or have been) a contractor, use the past 5 years or a period similar to the experience sought on the specification to expand on your duties and achievements. Anything past that period, the client name, the dates and your job title will usually suffice.
• Social media
Your potential employer may well look you up online. They’re likely to search social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to see what you’ve been up to. Make sure you don’t provide them with an easy way to reject your CV.
If there are no reasons to reject your CV...
Our next objective is for your prospective manager to quickly adopt a positive mindset towards your CV. Start by bullet pointing your achievements at the top of your CV and title it clearly as Achievements.
Make no mistake, your future employer is looking for someone to solve a problem. They may need someone to reduce costs, increase profitability, improve customer attraction or improve customer experience – show them your value by clearly demonstrating the return on investment you’ve previously achieved. If you can’t demonstrate this, don’t expect the Hiring Manager to call you for an interview. Keep these words in the front of your mind, “don’t tell me what you did, tell me what you achieved.”
If the Hiring Manager can clearly see your achievements, their mind set will be positive when reading the remainder of the CV. In essence, they will be looking for reasons to interview you rather than reasons not to.
Writing your CV for an indirect approach
If there are no personal contact details on a role advertised directly by a client, or you are advertising your CV on a job board, assume at some point your CV will be screened by either a computer or a person that will be looking for buzzwords. Don’t forget the result we are looking for – to get your CV in front of the Hiring Manager.
When writing your CV for this situation, the points raised above (writing a CV for a Direct Approach) remain critically important. The additional problem now is that your CV, whilst remaining comprehendible to the Line Manager, needs to include sufficient buzzwords for a machine or person (who may not understand Data Science) to agree your CV should be forwarded to the Hiring Manager. To facilitate this, we suggest a skills matrix at the front of your CV. This will include your skills along with the years of experience you have used these skills for. This allows you to list the buzzwords that will be searched for, whilst also keeping the CV readable and relevant.
TOP TIP: Add the skills used to each of the positions mentioned in your CV.
Company: A N Other Limited
Dates: Jan 2013 – May 2015
Position: Data Scientist
Skills: Python, R, Machine learning, Statistics, NoSQL, Hive, Mathematical Modelling
Duties: *Add work undertaken and your achievements here*
Whilst keeping the CV relevant, you will satisfy the automated word searching that it will be exposed to. Don’t forget the objective is to get your CV in front of the Hiring Manager.
You may be aware of the “buzzword” search. These include generic recruiters, generic internal recruiters and some HR folk who call and screen your suitability based purely on buzzwords. The ‘Indirect Hire’ diagram shows the typical journey your CV will go through to progress to the next stage. Therefore, it will need to contain buzzwords.
Please note, the Hiring Manager will not consider the filters your CV has to go through. They expect a well written CV – not a continued repeat of specific buzzwords. Therefore, you should not use the same CV for your direct and indirect applications – ideally you will have one for each style. Make sure you save both CVs and update them as and when you need them.