Part of my time lately has been spent working through a large number of applications for jobs we have advertised online. This has meant that I have seen a very wide range of applications over a very short period of time, and have quickly learned that the first thing a recruiter does when looking through a large number of CVs is to look for a reason to say no. Don’t give them a reason:
- Always attach a cover letter and make it relevant to the position you are applying for.
2. Address any elephants in the room early on.
Even the most impartial judge would have a hard time not forming an opinion of a person based on the words they have typed on an application. So if there is something about you that you know they will infer or conclude (whether founded or not), the best thing to do is to address it early on.
Is English your second language? State it and break down its impact by demonstrating great English in your covering letter and giving examples of how little this impacts your performance in the role, or even better, how your bilingual abilities can benefit an employer. Maybe you don’t have the skills or experience required for the role, but you are very passionate about the company and the business it is in. Show how this is reflected in your personal life. Or maybe you have been off work for a few years? Explain the reasons for this and how your experience during this time would benefit the company.
I’ve stressed how the recruiter will be looking primarily for reasons to say no, they will also be looking at hundreds of CVs which are all seemingly the same. Find ways to positively differentiate yourself from the sea of sameness, while staying afloat in the sea of Yes.
3. Apply for jobs that match your skills and experience (or personal passions).
This goes equally for jobs which you don’t have enough skills for and for jobs which you are over qualified for. There are going to be many people applying for the same job, and recruiters are looking for matches (…and reasons to say no).
4. Please no pictures
Don’t ever include a photo on your CV or covering letter unless you are applying to a talent or modelling agency. These don’t help good looking people as much as they don’t help the less aesthetically pleasing ones. There is no reason for a photo, other than to prove you are a person, not a cat. We’ll get that from your interview.
5. Lastly but not leastly
I can’t stress enough the importance of good spelling, grammar and clarity of writing. Obviously some jobs place less emphasis on your written ability than others, but in professional roles, you will need a well thought out, well presented CV and cover letter. Remember: lots of CVs + little time = looking for reasons to say no.
I’m not saying that these points will get you employed, but consideration of them will mean that you get past an initial “no pile” and onto the “maybe pile”. Which is a great place to be as it is the first step to Yes.
UPDATE! Also, never ever refer to yourself in the third person. You’ll give off one of two vibes: either you are too lazy to write your own CV so someone else did it for you, or you are crazy.