How should I organise my CV and what content should I include?
Applications for jobs are as high as they have ever been and the CV, more than ever, is critical in ensuring you secure your perfect role or at least give yourself the chance to interview for it. It is important to remember that your CV is a selling tool speaking on your behalf. It needs to be a strong, achievements focused document which will ensure you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Many of these tips will be familiar to you – some not so – but the fact of the matter is that as an HR professional, you will have written many more job descriptions than you will have your own CV and the two should be very different.
Font & Layout
You should ensure your CV uses a font that is easy to read e.g. Arial, and laid out in a clear structure.
• Personal information
• Employment history (beginning with your most recent experience)
You should use bold letters and underlining for the company name and dates only, and bold for your current position which should be listed on a new line. Be sure to proofread your final CV several times for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Always list your full contact details including your full name, address, email and perhaps a link to your LinkedIn profile.
The key here is that if you are in doubt, leave them out. Be prepared to elaborate on any of your interests such as the last play you saw, the last book you read, the last place that you visited on a scuba diving holiday. If you have any interests that might, in any way, be controversial then leave them off the CV. In any event this section should be no longer than two lines.
This is probably the biggest area where HR professionals must excel in order to find that next role and is the single term we hear more than any other. The perfect candidate for any client will have the right personality fit and will also be highly commercial.
To convey this in a CV, a good place to start is with numbers – you should include budgets, percentage figures and always bring your work back to the commercial reasoning behind it.
HR should not be done for HR’s sake but as a value-add, commercial, business partnering function, otherwise it is viewed as a cost-centre. HR must save costs, increase performance, ensure people are engaged and motivated and ensure the talent and potential of the people within the business is realised.
One of the most difficult things to include on a CV are measurables. Many businesses do not measure their HR output, results or return on investment and if this includes you then unfortunately you may struggle to quantify your successes and potentially lose out to candidates who can.
If you are in recruitment you should write about time per hire, cost per hire, number of vacancies filled directly, percentage of hires made directly and you should know these numbers. Generalists should mention retention figures, cost savings, return on investment from a management development programme and anything that has been measured in the course of a year.
Your CV is no longer enough. Commercial recruiters will put your name into LinkedIn and if you do not have a strong, current profile with recommendations – someone else will. Ensure your profile is up to date and put a link in your CV.
It is generally accepted practice to put your employment history in reverse chronological order and this section should include dates, size and scope of responsibilities and achievements. Remember at all times that potential employers are looking for evidence that you can add value to the job and the organisation.
• Give most space to your most recent job
• If you do not work for a well-known organisation it might be appropriate to insert a brief description of the company and its business
• Dates – it is only necessary to put the month and year of joining and leaving any employer. Your current position should be ‘to date’
• State your title
• Group your experience according to type of work e.g type of deal
• Use sub-headings to state the value of the deal, brief details of the transaction/key points of the matter.
• List specific project responsibilities/involvement in projects
• Do not leave out any period of employment for whatever reason - ensure that your time is accountable and that you can explain any gaps at interview
• Do not give reasons for leaving any of the jobs on your CV – it is far better to explain your moves in person at interview
• Do not embellish your CV or be economical with the truth (i.e. overstating your experience or accomplishments) – you will be found out at interview
• Salary information should be left off the CV but you should be prepared to discuss your salary with recruitment consultants at an early stage, so they know you are in the right range.
• Only use technical/professional jargon where necessary.