Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
CV perfection for HR professionals. Not your average CV guide… 29/08/2012
There is a real lack of specific information on how to write a successful CV for a particular profession, especially within the sphere of HR.
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- HR insight
- HR tips
- Responsibilities, projects & achievements
- Employee relations
- Recruitment - scale
- Recruitment - scope
- Compensation & Benefits
- Good luck with your next career move
Having seen hundreds, if not thousands of CVs in my career in HR recruitment, and in speaking to clients on a daily basis, I have gained the experience and know-how to identify the key things that make a good CV and the special ingredients that make one candidate stand out from the rest.
Using this knowledge I hope that I can provide you with an insight into what employers of HR professionals are really looking for when faced with a large number of applications to assess, giving you a head start on your peers.
This guide provides general pointers for HR professionals, and is then broken down by separate HR specialisms; employee relations, recruitment, learning & development and compensation & Benefits, to give you more specific advice pertinent to these areas.
Stick to the adage: 'Honesty really is the best policy'. It's likely you'll be questioned about the information you include on your CV so make sure you can back it up.
CVs should be succinct and punchy, summarise the main points using bullet points and use language which will engage the reader. Make sure the information you provide is easy to digest and ensure you include practical examples. Employers are really keen to see candidates who can demonstrate their commercial awareness; individuals who understand the bottom line, are creative in their ways of making cost savings and can make a positive impact on their business.
Whether you are a generalist or someone who specialises in recruitment or L&D, employers will be looking to get a feel of where you fitted into the HR function within your previous organisations and what your remit was in the positions you held there. Every employer has a checklist of things they are looking for when reading CVs, including; scale and scope of previous roles, core responsibilities, key projects worked on and achievements.
What employers are really looking for is to gauge the level of responsibility you have held by looking at how many stakeholders you are responsible for within your organisation and how senior they are.
If you manage a team, how many people do you manage? Did you build your team from scratch or take it over from another person?
The employer will also want to know your reporting line, for example, do you report directly into the business or to the HR director?
Increasingly, employers are favouring people who report direct into the business as it suggests they have more accountability and have their eye firmly on the bottom line.
Employers will want to know the range of duties you perform and how these duties are split between operational tasks and strategic/project work.
A common mistake made by HR professionals in their CVs is to focus on projects rather than the day-to-day operational elements as they believe that project work sounds more exciting.
Employers, especially in the current climate, are looking for people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves as they want to be confident that all the operational tasks will be handled as efficiently as project based work. Therefore make sure you have the right balance between the two.
Responsibilities, projects & achievements
• Core responsibilities
Prioritise your responsibilities and list them in bullet point form on your CV. Resist the temptation to copy and paste your job description and instead, list the core responsibilities you handle rather than listing everything you do on a day-to-day basis.
• Key projects
Here’s your chance to give examples of the successful projects you have carried out. Again be careful not to list all the projects you have worked on, just choose the most successful or perhaps the most recent ones.
Choose achievements that show how you have helped the business in some way, whether it’s cutting staffing costs or increasing staff retention by x%.
Due to ubiquitous merger and acquisition activity as well as redundancy programmes linked to the current economic climate, candidates with employee relations experience are becoming increasingly sought after.
The key points that an employer will look for are the types of cases you have been involved in, as well as the level to which you were involved. For example, did you have an advisory role? Employers also like to see if you have knowledge of both UK and international employment law.
Recruitment - scale
As a specialist in recruitment you could work across a number of different areas and with a number of different teams, therefore employers will want to know exactly what your remit covers in regards to scale and scope.
In terms of scale, you need to describe how many people you would typically recruit on an annual basis and what the volume of recruitment you manage at peak times of the year. Also, emphasise what your geographical remit is; do you focus solely on the UK, or do you also handle the hiring process globally?
A key part of the recruitment process is the interview; therefore you should discuss how involved you are with this. Do you lead the interview process, or perhaps act as the HR representative alongside other people in the business?
Recruitment - scope
In terms of the scope of role you should list which teams within the business you recruit for and the level of seniority of the candidates you recruit.
Employers like to know this is because it gives them a feel for the Challenges that you might have faced. For example handling a graduate hiring programme is very different from recruiting a managing director.
Do you use recruitment agencies or source the candidates directly yourself? If you do deal with agencies, is it for contingent recruitment or search projects, and what is the strength of your relationships with the consultants? If you source candidates directly are you involved in advertising? How successful were your campaigns (give examples)?
Compensation & Benefits
There are two very different roles within compensation and Benefits so you need to specify which area you look after.
Is it your job to evaluate pension providers and flexible Benefits programmes or do you analyse and compile data and benchmark salaries?
If you're employed in an analytical role, you need to describe your technical skills, such as your competency level in Excel, and your use of databases such as Access, SAP and Oracle.
Employers are particularly keen on people who have the ability to digest numerical data and present it back to the business in an easy to understand format, therefore communication skills are highly sought after.
On the other hand, if you are the decision maker in regards to external Benefits providers, what are you relationships with these providers?
Good luck with your next career move
I hope this guide will make the task of CV writing that little bit easier when you come to looking for your next career move.
Lee Coleman, Morgan McKinley
Morgan McKinley recruit in the following areas: Banking and Financial Services, Finance jobs, Banking jobs, Accountancy jobs and Tax jobs within Commerce and Industry, Public Practice and the Public Sector.