CV Writing

Published: 1 October 2013

As a recruiter of senior HR professionals I am constantly challenged and frustrated by the quality and quantity of information contained in a CV:

  • Should a CV only be two pages long?
  • Should you list your key technical skills so they appear in CV searches?
  • Should you include a personal statement that tells me how dynamic and influential you are?
  • Should you tell me your wife’s name and how many children you have?
  • Should you include hobbies and interests?

In my opinion – the answer to all the above is NO

Human Resource professionals should know what a good CV looks like. After all they are likely to be reading the most; why then, do HR CV’s fall short?

What do I need to know?

  • What your employer does – their brand may not be as well-known as you think, and it helps us understand if your skills are transferable into other sectors. Before the creation of the Ulrich model the biggest difference between HR Directors was whether you had/hadn’t worked with the unions. Today, sector insight and knowledge carries weight, as does any specialism you bring.
  • The total employee headcount and turnover – not necessarily for the whole business but the part of the business that you have HR responsibility for. Let me understand the scale of what you are managing and how many HR professionals report to you, and of course, who you report to as well.
  • What you have achieved – if you have reached a ‘certain’ level, I will assume you know about HR policies, processes, employee relations and performance management. Tell me in, say five bullet points, what your boss would say you had done for the business – what is the legacy that you leave behind and back it up with some numbers and evidence.
  • Why you may have any gaps – don’t leave me guessing or I will think that you have something to hide. Explain them – don’t hide them.

Aesthetically:

  • Don’t try and make a CV just two pages long; don’t squeeze in lots of information by using small print. Leave some white space and take a third page.
  • Use bullet points to break the text – reams of words become difficult to read.
  • Be careful how you use capital letters. They are distracting on the eye and say that you are not a detail person when used irresponsibly.
  • Make sure you have contact details on the CV, covering letters and the originating email can get lost when CV’s are passed on – we need to be able to get back to you.
  • Page numbers and perhaps your name in the footer of the document. Nothing is worse than arriving at the printer and someone else has shuffled your papers.

Don’t forget:

With the recruitment systems that exist today, there is a good chance we have an old CV. If you suddenly leave a job off or change dates, we will know …..

Debbie Sutton, Partner & Head of HR Practice at Berwick Partners

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