I recently went to our Dublin office and had a chat with Cpl Ireland’s sourcing team, the “Talent Innovation Hub” (TIH). In addition to helping job applicants, the TIH also proactively reach out to “passive” candidates. Those who are not actively applying for jobs but are nonetheless likely to discuss a new opportunity.
I asked Kenji, Adarsh, and Chloe (all working at TIH) what kind of information sourcing specialists look for in the candidates’ CVs. I hope this conversation will help many people out there to improve their CVs and increase their chances of getting hired for the right job.
1. What do you like about your job at TIH?
One of the great things about working at TIH is that we feel satisfied in providing very specific expertise and support to candidates who are looking for a career move. We know what our clients are looking for in a candidate’s CV. We also talk to candidates to find out their strengths and achievements. We can bridge the two and facilitate a smooth hiring process.
On the other hand, we also ask candidates some of the less comfortable questions – What do you think is the weak point in your CV presentation? What can we do to address it? What do they think is their weakness?
We also remind active job-seekers that sometimes the problem is not in the candidate’s fit for the role, but rather in the way the candidate is presenting him or herself in the CV and during the interview.
2. How many CVs do you go through on a daily basis?
At least 50. If we are looking at online profiles, we might go through as many as 400 per day.
3. What are the two things candidates can do to improve their CVs?
Be more specific about your experience and skills. What hiring managers want to know is the unique impact you had in your past positions. For example, instead of writing “I deal with customers,” try giving numbers (what was your team size? how many customers? what were your targets? were they achieved or exceeded? etc. etc.) and try to describe the specific kind of conversations you had with the customers, including specific customer feedback.
Avoiding cliches is another way to improve your CV. If we see a cliche, that is a huge turn off for us, because everybody else is writing the same thing! Of course, every company wants a fast learner and a motivated worker. But don’t write “I am a motivated worker” or “I am a fast learner,” because saying that doesn’t prove anything. Instead, describe an example that shows you are a dedicated person or a quick learner.
4. What is an important piece of information that is missing in most CVs that you receive?
We’d say that candidates should be much more “selfish” in their CVs and write what exactly it is that they are looking for in their career. For example, if you are a fresh graduate looking for an entry-level position in civil engineering, be very specific and write something like “I am a fresh graduate with a degree in so-and-so. I hope to obtain an entry-level position in civil engineering. I am open to industries but would prefer to stay in Galway.” This kind of summary is very important, but unfortunately, this is something that 99.9% of CVs don’t have. In their CVs candidates only talk about what they can offer but nothing about how their career is supposed to progress. And that’s what makes a difference.
Another thing that's important but missing is their Visa status. If we don’t see your nationality and/or Visa status on your CV, we assume that you are not writing it because you do not have permission to work in Ireland or the EU. If this is your situation, hiding it does not benefit you in any way. Be straightforward, so that when we give you a call you are spending your time discussing a role that you are actually eligible for. Even if you have permission to work in Ireland and you know it, you need to write it in your CV to let your employer know about it as well.
5. What advice would you give to candidates with little experience?
In addition to what we’ve already said, candidates should also mention projects they’ve done, such as things they achieved at university/college. Sometimes, volunteering can look even better than working, but again, they need to explain what exactly they have done.
One mistake we see from junior CVs is that they list a role that anybody could have done - cleaner, waitress, etc. And then they try to make it look special. This shouldn't be all you can talk about. Instead, tell us about what you’ve achieved and what skills you acquired that a typical graduate will not have. Consider having a bigger education section or having a projects section. By all means, put your part-time job there so we know that you work hard, but don’t waste space by elaborating on menial work.
6. Can you think of an application that was super impressive?
Yes, many! There was this one online CV which looked like a Super Mario game. When looking through the candidate’s previous experience, you control the Mario and jump from one section to another by clicking a button. It was a CV made by a developer and it really proved his skills. He could make things interactive and had a great sense for UI.
That is all great and creative, but when it comes to serious business, the most impressive applications are the ones where the candidate has a good understanding of what the role they’re applying for is.
After all the excitement from a creative CV is over, this is what really matters and makes the difference. We’re really impressed by someone who can stick to the point, be short, and still manage to include everything that is relevant to the job they are applying for.
7. What's the main difference between a Linkedin profile and a CV?
A CV is more detailed, and it may contain information that you wouldn’t want to make public, for example, your home address. Also, people can exaggerate themselves in a Linkedin profile more easily than in a CV.
Also on Linkedin, candidates tend to mention a huge list of skills they have and languages they speak. But on their CVs candidates will be to mention how good they are in these skills and languages, where they used those skills, and really focus on what is relevant to the job they are applying for.
Another difference is an endorsement. On Linkedin, people get endorsed by others. But nowadays people just give endorsements without even knowing how good you are. You never know how credible that is. We generally rely more on references than skill endorsement on an online profile.
Finally, one thing about a LinkedIn profile is that candidates do not really think about the layout. You just need to fill in the details to make your own profile, which is very easy and accessible.
8. Do you think that CVs are dying?
Definitely not. We can see where people who say that are coming from, though. Think about it. Does a person who is a good software developer have a good CV? Or, is a person who can’t write a good sentence in their resume a bad software developer? Not necessarily. This is where we should be a bit more critical. It means CVs do need a bit of transformation. However, I believe that people will always need a CV. It’s a written proof of what the person has done.