Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
23 Aug 2014

CVs and covering letters for HR professionals

23 Aug 2014 • by Changeboard Team

CV layout

In fact it’s these people that can sometimes be the worst offenders – if someone has been at a company for a while and progressed within it, it may have been a while since they’ve had to put a resumé together.

It may sound basic but having a clear layout is key. As you’ll know only too well if you deal with the recruitment side of HR, if a recruitment consultant or employer is bombarded with fifty CVs and one is confusing and hard to read, the chances are it is going to be put to the bottom of the pile. The reality is that people skim read and scan over documents to pick out the key parts, so make this as easy as possible for them.

If you choose a font that is hard to read or have a layout that is too complicated, you are doing yourself a disservice – your great experience and suitability for the role will be lost.

In the same way make sure it is not too long. I have seen CVs that have been ten pages long and the chances of someone reading the whole document are slim. A good length is around two pages – and definitely no more than three.

Covering letters & introductions

Formal covering letters are quickly becoming a thing of the past. As the majority of job applications are now sent via email, a short and simple message in the body of the email explaining what job you are applying for will usually suffice.

Attaching a separate covering letter will do little to make you appear a more attractive prospect as it will usually contain a range of generic buzz words or a summary of your CV, which the employer or recruiter will already have. Similarly a personal introduction is not usually needed as the document ought to communicate the type of person you are on your behalf.

Personal information

A good CV needs to be a narrative explaining all your relevant achievements – relevant being the key word. It’s crucial to think about where it is going before you send it so you can then tailor it to each recipient and include the information that’s going to be most relevant for them. There should also be no gaps – if you took a year out to go travelling then explain that.

Think about what really differentiates you from the competition and highlight those qualities, however at the same time only tell the reader what they need to know. As you’ll be well aware, employers are not allowed to ask about details like date of birth so you don’t need to include that. And personal information such as “happily married to Sarah for five years” is all well and good but does it have any relevance to your ability to do the job? The answer is no – so leave this off.

Personal interests should be included but kept very brief. Again these should be tailored to each position you apply for – if your role will be very much part of a team and none of your interests reflect teamwork you may want to amend what you include.

Focus on skills

Hiring the person with the right personality is, of course, vital but interviews are the best time to put your personality across. The CV is the document that sells you in and will hopefully get you an interview so keep it focussed on skills. It’s always useful to pass it onto someone objective who can read it through not just for spelling mistakes but for parts that may not be clear. For example I once received a CV that was written in the internal language of the company the candidate had worked for previously. There were so many acronyms, abbreviations and words that only someone at that company would understand that it was incomprehensible. So communicate clearly and don’t assume the reader will understand any technical jargon or acronyms.

Put yourself in the shoes of the employer

It’s all too easy to make a simple mistake on your resumé, but that mistake could cost you the job. At Euro London we have had candidates with great experience and abilities rejected because of bad CVs, who have then been snapped up after we helped them to re-write them.

The key is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential future employer. If you were recruiting what would you be looking for, and does your CV provide that? As long as it does, you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.