THE BLOG

Can Your CV Get You a Job?

13/01/2014 11:07 GMT | Updated 14/03/2014 09:59 GMT

There are many people unemployed, and recruitment techniques are quite out of date. Fine. Now that it's been said, time to move on. You need a job. And recruiters need to keep hiring. So let's have a look at your CV. What does it tell ?

Before we start, you have to know that recruiters love candidates with values. Whenever they look at your CV, they try to find some aspects of your personality that may reinsure them : if you play rugby, then it mans that you are a team player... Even though I will not discuss the relevance of such interpretations, a lot of recruiters use them to prequalify candidates for a first interview. That's what the CV is about, right ?

So it is about time to find out if your cv will get you to a first interview, which is the main step you'll need to tackle to get a job. In a typical CV, there are five main categories of information : personal details (name, address, age...), education, experience, skills (languages, softwares), and hobbies.

I am pretty sure you don't need any advice on how to fill in the "personal details" and "education" parts on a CV, or we really need to have a conversation !) But for the rest, a few tips might be of great use, as I have been through several thousands of CV's, and I have rarely seen these sections properly filled in.

EXPERIENCE

In this category, about 90% of candidates spend their time listing what they were in charge of : "management of 20 people" (yeah, right...), "business development in 5 countries", "participated in the elaboration of....". The only words that come to me when I read such loose statements are : SO WHAT ?

Your boss gave you tasks and duties, fair enough, but what were you able to achieve ? I would rather prefer to read "Increase of the business unit turnover by 35% in 2 years without any additional manpower", or "created an element of the main reactor for the Ariane fuse". Ok, that last one is not that accessible, but there has to be achievements you can value !!.

SKILLS

My point here is only about the pretended mastery level of the skills you indicate. Many candidates only write "Software : Excel, Powerpoint, Matlab, SAP". Same as before : there is a huge difference between me using excel to report the numbers of candidates that register every day, and my brother using excel to create predicting models for inflation rates in Europe. So, what's your level : beginner, advanced, expert, programmer, guru ??

And beyond that, adding some comments on practical applications you've made won't hurt. For the languages you speak, the need of being more precise seems even more obvious, and please do realise that the 3 words of Italian you've learnt during your holidays in Venice do not make you a "beginner" in Italian. On the contrary, try to be creative and add other types of skills you may have. And just to make it clear : YouPorn is NOT a skill you should mention on your CV...

HOBBIES

When I see that the large majority of candidates indicate "movies, books, running" in this part, I really imagine all of these healthy and cultivated people going all together to an alcohol free pub to debate on which Woody Allen's movie is the best, while reading French literature. Is this really how you spend your free time ? No matter the answer actually, because what matters to recruiters is everything that sets you apart.

Maybe you like making candles from natural bee wax, or maybe you run an Internet forum about Harry Potter's movies. There has to be something you like that is not common to everyone. There has to be topics you know perfectly and you care about. What makes you different is what makes you interesting. Your added value is not in the skills you have, but in the passions and humanity you bring in.

To conclude, there are mistakes that you can easily avoid to make sure you don't end up straight in the trash bin. But to make it cristal clear, there is no such thing as a perfect CV, and it will never get you a job by itself. Should you make it original or classical ? Should you precise the time when you organised a protest ? Or the year you spent travelling and learning scuba diving in the Red Sea ? Depending on the recruiters, these may be assets or red flags, and there is no way you know it for sure before sending your CV !

As of 2014, LinkedIn is probably the best CV format, first of all because most of recruiters will probably googlize you, and it would be best for you to be on the results page, and also because on this social network the format is the same for everyone, so that you don't have to worry about being original on that aspect. You can concentrate on the content, keeping in mind that every single person connected to you will be able to see what you put down.

Unless you hold a degree from a top school (and even then actually), it is not your CV that will differentiate you significantly, but you can not afford to neglect it. So, what really sets you apart ?