In this series, I have reached out to experts in HR or recruiting, asking them some simple questions to help you create the best impression possible when you apply for a job or a school program.
In this first interview, I have spoken with a Canadian CFO in the Not-For-Profit Sector. She has provided us with some excellent advice. Check it out here.
(Italian translation available on request).
1) Is there a certain segment of a CV/resume that you tend to look at first?
Depends on the position I’m recruiting for. If it’s a more senior position I look at the summary at the top. If it’s a more junior position, I tend to go straight to the experience and education since the summary isn’t usually there
2) What is an element that people are most likely to leave off a CV/resume that would best help them?
I think the summary at the top. In the 10 seconds that I spend screening a CV before deciding to look at it further (literally 10 sec), I want to know quickly what the person is all about, even if they are just starting out. The summary at the beginning is the fastest way to convey this.
3) How much does the CV/resume format really matter to you?
A lot. It’s the first impression of the person and you only have 10 seconds! If a CV is too plain, doesn’t effectively use graphic emphasis (italics, bold) or looks sloppy, into the no pile it goes. Think of Tinder for job screening. If I’ve got 50 resumes to go through (this is after someone on my team has already screened out 250), the look counts.
4) Do you have an example of a favorite cover letter that you can share? Or an unusual tip?
Take the time to read the job posting and understand what skills are important to the hiring manager. Sometimes they are plainly mentioned in the posting – often listed in order of importance. Highlight these in your cover letter by demonstrating where you’ve shown these skills in the past. Sounds like generic advice but I can’t tell you how many times people highlight things that are completely irrelevant. (This) shows me that they didn’t really read the posting carefully or take the time to think about what might make them the perfect candidate.
I like cover letters that hit on a personal connection or motivation for applying for the position. A finance job is a finance job and I can find anyone who can do transactional finance but what passion do you bring to the position? Do you like what we are doing in the market? Do you think our CEO is inspirational? Does the sector inspire you? Give me something to make me want to meet you! Being good at working a spreadsheet isn’t going to do it. The market is just too competitive these days. Help me understand why I want to have you around the table in my team meetings!
5) What is one of things that can drive you most crazy when an applicant reaches out to you?
That they don’t! People today seem content to submit an application into a faceless HR email address (or via Linked In which is how things seem to be going) and then not follow up. No one picks up the phone and rarely do people reach out by email to follow up. Be creative when you apply for a job. Find out who you know who knows someone who works there and get them to put a word into the hiring manager. It may not lead to an interview or an offer but I guarantee that I look at a CV for more than 10 seconds if someone has drawn it to my attention first.
If you get an interview or have an informational meeting with someone, ask for a business card and send an email or (gasp!) a written card to thank them for their time. In this day and age of e- everything a written thank you card will make you stand out and will show you have good follow through and good manners.
6) How soon is too soon to follow up on a CV/resume?
Tough to say. Depends on how you are sending your CV. If it’s for a posting that you’ve seen somewhere, I say follow up after you send it with people in your network that can get you on the radar of the hiring manager. If you are sending a CV to someone who has asked you to send them one and not necessarily for a specific position, I would give it a week or two and then ask if they’ve had a chance to look at your CV, ask for feedback and see if there are any opportunities available or coming up that you are a fit for. I would also then check back in with the person every quarter or so to stay on their radar screen. I keep an eye out for news about a company or person that could be used as an opener to follow up in the future. E.g. a company makes an announcement about a new product… take the opportunity to loop in with the contact to say that you saw the news and were just checking back in to see if any new opportunities have come up.
Job hunting is like dating. Timing is everything. Persistence is key.
For more like this, check back here next week!