General Question

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

Any employers using this website care to answer this one? (No, I'm not asking to give me a job!)

Asked by lightsourcetrickster (1902points) November 20th, 2012

As pretty much anyone looking for a job should know, there are lots and lots of websites that give advice on how to write up a CV. The usual standard format consists of personal profile, key skills/transferable skills, education, qualifications, experience/work history and then provide references.

I have been unemployed for far, far too long and whilst not disheartened with the situation, I am getting a little perplexed as to what employers exactly do with the CVs they get, what makes them want to read those CVs in the first place (other than that they’re looking to fill a vacancy) and what they immediately tend to ignore about a CV.

I have been following every kind of layout that’s been presented to me by advisers, careers officers, etc etc, who in large groups tend to contradict each other as to what the best layout is, what get’s the most attention, what really seals the deal as far as getting that elusive interview is concerned. I’ve been doing that for more than just months. I could ask where could I possibly be going wrong, instead I want to ask, where the heck can I possibly go right?

In the past six months I have applied for more than 200 jobs and not once, not once, have I heard back from a potential employer. So you can easily imagine I also haven’t been to an interview. I am rapidly running out of resources with which to print streams of CVs and send out vast numbers of stamped envelopes to these people. So I’d like to think there are some people out there who do have some notion as to what goes on at the other end of this equation.

Any takers on this issue?

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12 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“The usual standard format consists of personal profile, key skills/transferable skills, education, qualifications, experience/work history and then provide references.”

As you have listed it here, it is exactly backwards. You should start with lists of your skills, then do experience/work history (Be sure to include any measurable achievements.), then education, and finally something very brief and innocuous for personal. Hold the references until they are requested.

Keep your qualifications for a particular position to your cover letter, which should be customized to each job opening you are applying for.

Have you cleaned up your social media? No drunk pictures? Or Likes for NORML.

Have you had someone read your CV to correct any typos or errors? It should be error-free.

Bellatrix's avatar

Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. I don’t get bogged down in the ‘structure’ of the resume but if there is nothing in it to tell me you have the experience and qualifications to do the job – I move on. I’m busy and recruitment isn’t my favourite task so make it easy for me to see you in the role.

I sat on a panel for a job recently that had quite specific requirements. The selection criteria (it was a government type job) were fairly standard for jobs in this field but the ‘devil was in the detail[ed]’ description of the position. Only a couple of people (who are supposed to be highly educated) focused on addressing the information in the details in their selection criteria or their resume. We had to dig to see if they had this experience or any qualifications in that field. I was really surprised to be honest and it was hard to find four people I felt were worthy of an interview.

So, look at all the information provided and try to match your experience/quals to what they are looking for. Sometimes they don’t know! They might have a bit of a ‘wish list’ rather than clear criteria to match. So, read between the lines. Think about the job they are advertising and skills/knowledge that would be valuable. Frame your responses to any selection criteria or requirements they specify so they can’t miss how wonderful you are for the job. Don’t expect them to guess and dig. They won’t. You have to spell it out for them. Join the dots from their position to you.

Also, if you have a friend who works in your field and especially if they look at resumes etc. Ask them to go over your applications to highlight where you might be going wrong. Look up the STAR approach. Even if you aren’t addressing selection criteria, use the STAR principles to guide your resume. Be focused and clear. Don’t just describe and say “I am a good communicator”. Tell them how this has been demonstrated in your work. I recently read a friend’s application for a job and there were a number of areas where I could give her tips on how to tighten things up or to present herself better. Draw in the favours too. Sometimes it really isn’t what you know, but who you know. Sad but true.

Hope something here helps and good luck with the job hunting!

BosM's avatar

If you’re relying on your resume to open the door you’re making a big mistake. Networking is key as is having a recruiter who specializes in the field or industry you wish to work in.

CV’s get 30–60 seconds of attention from a screener. If they can’t find what they’re looking for in less than a minute then your information gets tossed into the “no” pile. If they see what they’re looking for they’ll spend a few minutes on it, then it gets compared to the other “maybe’s”; If you’re not making it to a phone screen then you aren’t in the running. Sorry, but that is just the way it is. You need to change your approach. Network on LinkedIN, or with other professionals and associations. Othewise you may find the insanity will continue. Good luck!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

Judi's avatar

My son is an employee development manager for a large employer. His employer scans the resumes and the computer looks for key words. Only those resumes with the key words even get looked at.
I, on the other hand am a smaller employer. I look for someone with skills that match the job I have available, and a record of stability. I really don’t care about the order of the information, as long as it is clear and understandable.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@marinelife this is interesting, because never once have I been presented with that information by anyone in a job centre or a careers office. I may just try that.

Shippy's avatar

You got some great answers here. Will try to add a bit. First up, I have been over certain periods of my life, an employment agent. (Personnel Consultant). Some agencies use websites to search for CV’s. They can be websites attached to specifically Human Resources or Labor Broker companies. Other sites operate outside of the industry, but supply the industry. Are you on those sites? They also offer a format. So say for example I am searching for Engineer, with English as a first language, willingness to travel, I can use those key words to find those CV’s.

So perhaps find those sites and get on there. Also to me the shorter and more precise a CV is the better. This is called the ‘foot in the door’. After that, you can offer for their perusal a longer version. The actual format would vary, but most importantly two pages should sufice initially. That would have your contact details, address and phone numbers etc., The body would include your latest position first moving backwards. I always used ‘action’ words like initiated new models for sales, or developed training programs for staff. These can be in bold so they catch the viewers eye. As someone pointed out, tailor your CV to match the position you apply for. It saves wading through masses of useless information. (You could even put your referees on the first page, this kind of gives the reader an upfront pointer that you are what you say you are).

Other than that I have found most of my jobs, by referral . This could be through my industry where I used to work, or from random people I know. It’s called ‘networking’. Chat to people even at the bus stop. This way you get known and then remark that you are looking for a job. You will be surprised who refers you.

Make contact with former employers, and also former workmates, they normally know what is going on in your industry and can help.

Hope you enjoyed my short book on ‘Finding a Job’ loll.

Tachys's avatar

In the U.S. resumes and CVs are two different things. A resume should only be one page and as mentioned above is for getting noticed. The Curriculum Vitae is longer, usually at least two pages, and goes into greater detail. My feeling is that your CV is likely overly complex. Putting too much on it is detrimental. Once you get past the initial screening phase you can break out the big one, if needed. Good luck!

Judi's avatar

I’m 51 years old and this is the first time I have ever heard of a CV. That might make me look stupid, but I’m an employer and if you presented me with a several page document it would go in the trash. 1 page please, if I want more ill ask for it.

Bellatrix's avatar

It is a Curriculum Vitae @Judi. My interpretation of résumé or CV is that they are the same thing. I grew up in the UK and we never used the term résumé at that time. You always presented a CV. In Australia, most people use the term résumé.

Judi's avatar

@Bellatrix , I suppose knowing where the OP is looking for a job could change the answers too. If he is in the US and calling it a CV I might not be the only employer who would be confused. Also, different regions of the world might have different methods and expectations, and laws regarding hiring.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@Bellatrix is familiar with the fact that I am from the UK, which I obviously neglected to mention in my original question. However, @Judi I still see mostly useful answers here and whilst you do raise a very valid point from what I see, I don’t think the differences would be notably extensive.
GAs to all thus far. Thanks for the input.

Gabby101's avatar

200 applications and no response? I would spend the money to talk to a professional career coach about what is happening. I doubt it’s the layout of your resume. I hire people and have seen all kinds of resumes and layouts and wouldn’t pass someone up just because I didn’t like the layout unless it were an indication of disorganization or just plain wackiness. Typos and poor grammar are another matter – that will get the resume tossed immediately.

Also, keep in mind that your resume is being screening by company recruiters who spend about 3 seconds deciding if they should read more or pass. They will use keywords, but also will look at your last job title and last company you worked for. A lot of good people slip through the cracks because so little time is spent reading resumes. Try to get your resume to the hiring manager directly so s/he can consider your entire resume vs. just scanning quickly to weed people out. For jobs that I have posted, we have received 500+ resumes – no way the recruiter has time to read them all well.

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