Recently, the jobs board Reed.co.uk surveyed over 300 recruiters to find out their biggest turn-offs when it comes to recruitment, and find out what they’re looking for when considering a candidate. I liked the article so much, I just had to share it!
What do recruiters really want?
Whatever your area of expertise, when it comes to job applications and interviews, it seems some ‘pet peeves’ are universal.
Is poor spelling and grammar and a weak handshake really the recipe for candidate rejection?
1. Bad presentation
Aside from the obvious (i.e. qualifications and previous experience), most recruiters indicated that presentation should take precedence. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed selected a logical order for presentation as the most important thing to consider on a CV. Good formatting and appropriate length were also underlined by most hiring managers as pre-requisites, suggesting that even the best-written CV can be let down by poor presentation.And if you’re wondering how long is too long, an overwhelming 91% of recruiters see a word document of two to three pages as the right way to go. Although obviously, it’s what you do with it that counts…
2. Poor spelling and grammar
Over 50% of recruiters highlighted poor spelling and grammar as their number one application turn-off. These are common bugbears for recruiters as not only do they demonstrate a lack of time and effort spent re-reading a CV, they’re also relatively easily fixed. In comparison, only one in four of those surveyed stated that an obvious lack of qualifications specific to the role was their main CV gripe.
3. ‘Socialising with friends’
For many hiring managers, there’s nothing worse than a generic CV. With that in mind, one in three recruiters stated that their biggest pet-hate phrase is ‘I enjoy socialising with friends’. This was closely followed by the similarly stock-statement ‘Good team player/good working in a team or as an individual’, with 28% of hiring managers surveyed identifying it as their own pet-peeve phrase.
4. Arriving late
42% of recruiters highlighted arriving late as their number one interview irritation. Although it can’t always be helped, candidates arriving late can start their interview on the wrong foot and one in five hiring managers indicated experiencing this at some point during their career. For many, it’s those candidates nonchalantly arriving late without an apology which really gets their goat. Interviewees who have the courtesy to call ahead could just set themselves apart. Aside from tardiness, an obvious lack of preparation for the interview came in second place, with one in four voting it their biggest interview faux-pas.
5. Weak handshake
Finally, the importance placed on positive body language and a good handshake should never be overlooked. They may seem like old-fashioned ideas but, for many recruiters, the right body language still rings true and sends out a positive message about an interviewee.
And if you’re wondering, 80% of you said you like it firm. The handshake. Obviously…
Guide to #job hunting: Handling the 5 most common #interview questions http://wp.me/pIWOg-k7
“I recently had an interview with a company for a vacancy advertised, which occurred a couple of days after having fallen off a ladder and injuring my leg while doing a chore at home. I was succesful at interview and at the end of the interview I had shown them the swelling to my leg. The following day, the agency confirmed that the company I had the interview with was very impressed with my interview and offered me the job, which I verbally accepted over the phone. I received a letter from the agency confirming my start date and time with the company for the permanent position. Over the weekend before I was due to start my leg injury worsened so that I could not walk on my leg, and by Sunday night I was in pain all night. My wife took me to hospital early Monday morning. We finally managed to leave the hospital and be home by Midday, which meant I missed the start time of my new job for 9am. But my wife visited the company on her way to work and told them about my problem. They advised it should all be fine and okay to start in a weeks time, in accordance with the advice of the hospital to rest the leg for that minimum period of time. However, I discovered almost at the end of the week that the company had in fact filled the position with another candidate supplied by the agency and had withdrawn their offer to me. I was grossly unhappy at this decision, and the agency advised me that as I did not email or phone them on the Sunday or Monday whilst at hospital, the position was then given to someone else.”
My point of view
The problem here is communication.
When accepting the job offer verbally and agreeing a start date and time, Anthony had entered into a legally binding contract with the employer. This contract is equally binding to both parties. It is equally as important for the company to conform (By paying the agreed salary, offering the agreed terms, etc) as it is for Anthony to keep to his part of the deal (Arrive on the agreed start date and time, do the job as best he can, etc.)
Anthony’s injury made it impossible for him to deliver his end of the bargain, and this put his contract at risk. If he called the company BEFORE the agreed date and time to let them know of his problem, they would probably have been very amenable to postponing it. The agency should have been instrumental in this – After all, they facilitated the contract. However, if the agency didn’t know about his problem then they would of course assume that everything was fine, given the short time scales. Anthony’s failure in communicating his problem in time meant that he broke the contract by not arriving as contractually agreed. The fact that he sent his wife to sort it out later probably added insult to injury – The company employed Anthony, not his wife!
There also seems to be a lack of communication on the part of the agency, who obviously knew that the offer was being withdrawn without communicating this clearly to Anthony. As for the employer: they acted in good faith by making the offer because they had a business problem to solve, and they needed a person in the job. Regardless of the reason why, the fact that Anthony did not arrive on time and then also did not advise them BEFORE THE EVENT of his problem, would have tainted their view of him. They acted fully within their rights, as long as they withdrew the contract officially.
- An employment contract is equally binding on both parties. If you want the job, you have to honour your part of the deal
- The interview process really only finishes at the end of your probationary period. UK Employment Law favours the employer during the first year of your employment, or whatever probationary period is agreed in the contract. Until then, you are at risk of the contract being terminated through notice if you do not deliver what you agreed to deliver. Equally, you can terminate the contract by resigning if you do not feel satisfied with everything.
- If you are serious about working for a company, it is vital to establish a good and respectful relationship. Dealing with problematic situations is a good measure of a person’s ability to organise, control and manage themselves. If you create a wrong impression when something goes wrong, all the good things you did during the interview will be negated.
- Communicate all the time. Build a positive relationship with your Recruiter. They want you to do well and will help you when problems arise, but they can only help if they know what is going on. Likewise, if you have a long notice period, keep in touch to let them know everything is okay. Communication channels can never be too open!
- If things do go wrong, handle them yourself. Getting wives and family members involved is a sure fire way of losing respect with your prospective employer.
Guide to #job hunting: 5 questions great candidates ask at #interview http://wp.me/pIWOg-hb
Some 320 jobs were saved when, in a joint rescue deal, The Parts Alliance and The Parts Alliance associate member Andrew Page agreed to take over 33 Unipart Automotive branches.
Peter Sephton, chief executive of The Parts Alliance, said: “It has been sad to see the decline and demise of Unipart Automotive. We have worked hard to interview and re-employ close to 500 talented individuals whose great experience and skills will benefit The Parts Alliance and our customers
“Those re-employed include people at all levels, from senior members of the National Accounts team and Regional Directors to parts advisors, branch managers, business and operations specialists.”
‘’We take great care to allow prospective colleagues to understand us and our values, and get to know them. All too often I see employers making knee jerk reactions and false promises, offering jobs to people they have never seen or who have never seen and evaluated them. These are peoples lives we are dealing and it impacts their communities and families, so we owe it to all or colleagues to be open and transparent’
Sephton said The Parts Alliance had become the natural employer of choice in the sector as people have increasingly recognised the business group’s integrity and commitment to be a first choice place to work, backed by long-term substantial financial security.
He added: “We take great care to respect the individual and diversity in all respects, providing an environment in which colleagues can express their opinions and help us to build a great future together, while we invest in their development.”
Sephton said the recruitment drive is further proof of The Parts Alliance’s commitment to its existing customer base and others who are increasingly turning to it for quality products and services.
This, coupled with a quality parts offering, passion for service and industry leading catalogue and garage systems, with the most accurate look-up for parts of any supplier in the aftermarket with our proprietary Alicat online system, all help customers be more productive in their own businesses, and ultimately be more profitable, he said.
The HgCapital-backed The Parts Alliance has the largest distribution network in the automotive aftermarket with 278 branches across the UK and Ireland.
Do you have a “One size fits all” CV?
Writing a CV with a specific job in mind, is relatively easy because it can be targeted. Getting your CV ready for online is quite another story.
The fact is that using your standard CV for all purposes is not the best way to get found by recruitment agencies or employers online. And the entire jobs market is online, if you see what I mean!
There is a specific reason for this. Registering your CV with an online jobs board, or sending your CV to an employer or recruitment consultancy has one particular element in common: A database.
1. How does it work?
An electronic database is an effective way of managing and storing vast amounts of data, in this case thousands of CV’s. Think of it as a huge storage facility into which all the electronic data is poured en masse, identified only by little tags of data that will help the database administrator dig the information out again when it’s needed. These little tags are key words or phrases.
When a recruiter wants to find a list of potentially suitable CV’s for a job, the databases are searched through using key words or phrases that will pull out suitable CV’s from the huge numbers stored in the database.
This isn’t dissimilar to a Google search: The jobs boards will categorise search results in order of suitability that is usually based on the numbers of times the key words appear in the CV. The more frequently the word appears, the higher up it is rated in the search criteria.
Of course, other search criteria also apply: Geographic location, salary range, qualifications, temporary or permanent, etc. but key words, in my view, is the most important way to find well-matched candidates. There are usually boxes to tick for these general search areas and this is automatically searchable.
When you apply to an agency directly, the likelihood your CV being stored on yet another database is very high and even though it might be additionally coded in this way, the agency will still need to know what your background is. You don’t always get the opportunity to discuss this first.
For this reason, writing a personalised CV for a database is not appropriate. There is in fact very little human interface until your CV is read AFTER it has been found on the database.
Obviously, if you are looking for a job it is important for your CV to rate very highly in database searches. The more “hits” you get, the better your chance of being successfully matched to a job and proceeding through the recruitment process.
2. Think like a Recruiter
As a recruiter it is to my advantage to find the best possible candidates for the job I am trying to fill through searching the databases. But without some really creative thinking on my part it is often very difficult to dig them out. I am always surprised how few candidates actually mention obvious information like the industries they work in, or the products they work with, on their CV’s.
With the databases jammed full of CV’s of any kind, getting your own to the top of the pile is really important. Sometimes stating what you might think is the obvious, makes the difference between being overlooked or not.
Recruiters get thousands of CV’s in every search. Improve your chances of being spotted by imagining you are explaining what you do to someone who has no idea of what you do. Write all the descriptive words down, and use them in your CV. Remember, a non-intelligent electronic system is going to be matching on these words. Then, they will be cross-examined with human intelligence. When I look at hundreds of CV’s, it is much easier if its obvious that the CV represents a basic fit, rather than having to dig too deep too quickly.
Most recruiters will use the first trawl to draw up a long list to investigate deeper the second time around. This is usually done quickly, perhaps by a quick scan only. You might be excluded during this scan, even if you do match the job, if your CV makes it difficult to find and process the information.
3. Optimise key words and phrases
Using the above ideas, you should have a good idea of what to include, but the following words MUST appear in your CV:
- The industry you work in. Don’t just tick the box on the registration screen, mention the words in your CV. Be specific and if there is more than one descriptive word, use them all.
- The products you work with. Do you design engines? Do you sell guitars? Do you service front end loaders? These are all key search criteria – The words that must appear in your CV.
- Jargon, acronyms and technical words. This is particularly important for technical jobs, or jobs in industries like Automotive, Aerospace or IT / Telecoms where acronyms abound. In automotive, words like JIT, QMS, FEAD, etc have become part of the vernacular and that is what recruiters might use to search.
- Job titles. Especially if there is more than one descriptor for what you do, make sure you cover the bases. For example Sales can encompass Business Development, Key Account Management, Telesales, etc. that all describe a variation on the same theme. Make sure these appear in your CV in such a way that they describe very specifically what you do or want to do.
- Specialist areas. For the same reasons as above, the more your specialist areas appear in your CV the better your chances of standing out from the crowd.
- Brief company details. In a very short paragraph, describe the industry, product, methods and systems to optimise key words whilst also explaining to someone who is not familiar with the company exactly what the organisation did, and in turn cast light on where you fit into the context.
- Systems and processes, especially if they are widely used or have specific names. For example, a system like SAP is very widely used and this might be a search word. If it’s not mentioned, the assumption would be that you don’t have the experience.
4. Less is not more
Sometimes it is not possible to squash all your skills and experience into the confines of 2 pages. Especially if you are a specialist or senior manager, I believe that making a CV too short might be to your disadvantage if it is stored on a database.
Write what you have to, but use bullet points to shorten the text and make it easy to find the information. Put your best attributes at the top of your CV, where it can be read first. Use figures and data to prove your abilities rather than just statements. Numbers in a CV is attractive, especially in commercial or sales jobs, as it provides a measure for your efficiency.
However, no Recruiter wants to read War and Peace so if the CV is too long, its likely not to achieve your objectives for you.
5. It must still make sense
Never forget that sooner or later, your CV will be read by a human being again. Optimising the search words is a means to this end, and the electronic search is the hurdle you have to cross in order to achieve this objective.
Don’t just list the key words. Use them to describe, concisely and intelligently, what you did and how you did it.
These tips should help you write a CV that is online friendly. Good luck!
Recruiters and hiring managers can receive literally hundreds of applications for a role. To give yourself the very best chance of going on the ‘Yes’ pile, your CV needs to make an immediate impact and demonstrate exactly why you are right to be considered.
A professional and well written CV will promote you in the best possible light, and give you an advantage in helping to secure interviews. If you want to find a new job, updating your CV can mean the difference between success or failure.
So, how do you write a great CV? There are so many answers to that question! However, here are my thoughts about getting it right, first time:
Before you start writing you must train yourself to think from the reader’s perspective and ensure that each and every application you make is tailored specifically for the role that you are applying for. Remember that this is likely to be your first introduction to a prospective employer, and will form the basis for much of what will be discussed at a first interview.
To make a great impact, your CV should be concise, the content clear and well structured. Keep it simple, relevant and to the point.
Roles and Responsibilities
Make these as close a match to the role you are applying for as possible. Ensure that job titles and responsibilities are directly relevant to the job being applied for and where possible an exact match. Reasons for leaving roles and salary levels or salary expectations should not be included – leave that for the interview.
Skills and Experience
Keywords are very important here – your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience: make sure that it is easy to see and clearly explains where you have added value. No matter how long that experience was, a few years or a one-off project, make sure it reads as relevant and consistent to what you are applying for. Include all relevant skills that you have gained and developed in your current and previous roles. These should compliment your experience and add weight to your application.
Be sure to highlight all key achievements in your CV – Don’t forget that hiring managers love to see the CVs of people who have made significant achievements as well as out performed targets. List these in real terms or as percentages and be able to discuss these at interview.
As with the areas above, be sure to include all relevant education, especially if is mentioned as required or desirable in the job description.
Include your full name, address, telephone numbers, email and visa status. I am amazed at how many CVs do not contain a mobile phone number! Avoid anything superfluous such as children’s names, sex, religion, sporting teams you support etc. You are not legally required to include your date of birth or marital status, so leave these off. Be sure to make yourself as contactable as possible, so include your contact details on the header or footer of each page in case the pages of your CV are separated. Add links to any relevant website pages and your LinkedIn profile. Hobbies or interests add very little value, so exclude these unless they are directly relevant. Referees should not be included.
GENERAL TIPS AND ADVICE
Use only relevant language and keep it jargon-free, but be sure to use language relevant to the industry you are working in. Think keywords at all times. Your CV should be written in the 3rd person, and in the past tense to describe your career and the present tense for skills and competencies. Use bullet points rather than full sentences to list skills and responsibilities etc.Make sentences more direct by using nouns and verbs on their own, e.g. “Major achievements include” or “Increased profits by 24%”
Avoid cliches – there are so many words that are heavily overused and most recruiters and employers simply ignore them. These include and are certainly not limited to team player, results driven, dynamic, motivated, and entrepreneurial. If it feels like a cliche to you, then it probably is!
Ensure that the layout of your CV is simple, uncluttered and easy to read. Avoid any photos, logos, clip art or borders. Use a universal font in one colour (Helvetica, Arial and Times Roman are great) and bold used only to highlight. Make sure that you send/attach your CV in a format which the recipient will be able to open – this may seem odd to mention but you would be amazed the number of times I have not been able to open an application.
MSWord is best – avoid PDF. The file name that you use should be your own name, e.g. cathyr-cv.doc – this makes it easy for the hirer and avoids the confusion of a number of applications all called document1.doc or CV.doc.
Make sure that your CV reads consistently and runs in reverse chronological order. There should be no unexplained gaps at all. Your CV must make sense as a whole document. It must be completely error free so spell check and proofread, proofread, proofread – and then get someone else to proofread it for you. Any errors on your CV can spell the end of the line for your application. Don’t let a spelling, grammatical or consistency error put you straight into the ‘No’ pile. Remember spell checkers don’t sense check your writing, if the word is spelled correctly e.g. if you write ‘hear’ but you meant ‘here’, a spell checker will assume it is correct.
4. Covering Letter
A direct application must be accompanied by a tailored covering letter. Just like the CV this should written specifically for the role that you are applying for. Covering letters are not required for online applications or jobs boards – usually an electronic form is provided for you to complete
One last thought
A little extra time and effort spent in drafting your CV and covering letter could make all the difference to your success and could well be the deciding factor between being offered a great new job and starting, or not interviewing at all! Invest your time in writing your own personalised marketing document (Effevticely, that is your CV!) and you will soon reap the rewards.