It’s been a while since my last post but one of the things that’s been keeping me busy is hiring staff for the tech startup I work for.
I’ve been through almost 600 CVs for four different positions in the last few months and there are some definite trends on what to do – or not do. During the process I’ve been making notes of some of the more common ones, as I really think that it will be useful to people applying.
Disclaimer: I’m not an HR specialist. I work for a tech startup and all of my advice is tailored towards that. This is not true in all cases, but it is what I’ve found relevant in my case. Use at your own risk…
There are many schools of thought on how long a CV should be. I’d recommend a short 100 word paragraph in an intro email with a CV attached. (This depends on what they ask for, but is a pretty safe bet.) The CV should only be two pages. No more. And I don’t care what you’ve done, make it two at a max. Page 1 should be all your personal information, enough for me to gauge what type of person you are. Page 2 should be a summary of your work experience. Pick the most important stuff.
Short and sweet.
I want to know two things:
- Will you fit into the culture (i.e. hard working, smart and fun?)
- Can you do the job (do you have enough of the right kind of experience?)
Give me just enough info to answer those and I’ll ask for more info in the interview – bring a long CV then if you want.
Here are some points on what to do: (and not do)
- Remember, your intro letter is your first interview. It will be my first impression, so don’t screw it up.
- Make the intro letter or paragraph tailored to the position and company. Don’t throw words like “your perfect candidate” or generalisations if you don’t add the job title correctly and the company name.
- Send it in .pdf as I’m likely to view it in Google docs (or on a mac) and your formatting will look like crap.
- Only address the emails to me… no bulk emails.
- Apply from the email address you want me to respond to… Make sure it’s not “Sexyminx@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org”
- Name your CV appropriately. In a folder of 200 CVs can I find yours with a search?
- Don’t attach degrees or ID docs – If I want them I’ll ask, or send them on further correspondance as a second touch point…
- Don’t email me twice unless It’s been over two weeks since your last one. I’m busy… maybe follow up with a call though. But only one.
Personal details page:
- Only two pages. Don’t make me say it again.
- Have a good design. This is not to make it look pretty – it’s about order and form. Does stuff line up? Is it easy to find what I’m looking for?
- Add colour to stand out, but only 1 or 2. Don’t go mental.
- Remove placeholder text where the template tells you to “add name here”
- Social Media – I’m going to look at it… Make sure your pics are appropriate and adjust privacy settings if needed. I use rapportive that pulls in everything linked to your email address. I will stalk you before calling. I promise.
- Don’ t waste my time. Don’t list all of your school subjects – tell me school and year you matriculated. Just one.
- Add your range of remuneration but keep it open ended with room to negotiate. I need to know if you are in my price bracket.
- Adding a photo helps, but it must be businesslike and professional – no cleavage shots… Also make sure it’s a pic of you. No celebs or anime… Yes, that happened.
- I need some personal info. (sex, ID / DOB, city (not address) etc) This is so that I can gauge where you come from and what type of person you are. Yes I will judge you.
- Do you have a notice period that I should be aware of? If I need someone NOW can that be you?
- Start at most recent experience and work your way backwards. Don’t start with the years you worked as a waiter – it turns me off immediately.
- Use point form. It makes it a lot easier for me to scan and is much more concise.
- Don’t leave blank spots open on the CV and make sure that the dates are continuous. Fill with info about what you did. “Traveled in Europe for 18 months”
- Don’t tell me that you waitered or worked the till in a shop… It’s not relevant and shows that you don’t have anything better to add
- Be concise and to the point. Don’t waste my time….
- Spelling, spelling, spelling – use spell check. (I’ve thrown CVs out because of “lack of attention to detail”
- Computer skills – tell me you’re brilliant not proficient and for God’s sake don’t list all office programs or web browsers. I expect you to know those and can’t hire someone who can’t use Excel or Chrome. Tell me about anything special.
- Overall you need to come across as fun but hardworking. I have to want to be in the trenches with you.
Although the skill set is very important, in a small company, I’m more likely to hire you on having the right personality than on all the required skills. There is always going to be too much to do and I just need to know that you can learn it quick enough. If you’re wanting some inspiration form a couple of interesting CVs, check these out.