Some fantastic advice from a talented leadership coach and organizational change specialist. Many thanks to Dr. Jeremy Lurey, President & CEO of CHIEFEXECCoach & Plus Delta Consulting LLC, for sharing his insights with us.
1) Is there a certain segment of a CV/resume that you tend to look at first?
Yes. In order of priority, the opening “Professional Summary” statement for a snapshot of who this person is. To be effective, it should be 3-5 lines of narrative description about one’s professional skills and then possibly another 3-5 lines of bullet points (typically 2-column) if there are some key skills that can be highlighted to further expand on the summary statement. From there, I review the specific accomplishments/responsibilities one has within his/her “Professional Experience” section if I feel it’s worth continuing. It’s less about the job title of those roles to me. It’s more about the specific experience and how it’s represented as a true accomplishment vs. standard job task.
2) What is an element that people are most likely to leave off a resume/CV/interview that would best help them?
The Professional Summary! Another useful section for those who are more experienced would be any “Presentations & Publications”. People don’t always include “Professional Accomplishments & Affiliations” either which can be a great way to list awards you’ve been recognized for, Board/volunteer roles with professional/community organizations, etc.
The interview question is a separate question for me. Where people tend to fall short in my experience is not their answers (which are generally rehearsed) to the predictable questions, but instead the questions for the interviewer. I want to know that the candidate did his/her homework about me (like reviewing my past experience via LinkedIn – I see you left Big firm consulting 15 years ago… What made you want to start your own company?) and my company (as in asking, where do you expect the company to be in 2-3 years? What role might I play in helping you get there? etc.) and that he/she is interested in a future career not just a job near-term. I also want to know that the candidate has the aptitude to be bold and take initiative rather than subordinating him/herself to me as if I have to give direction and permission for every thought one has. It’s not my interview as the interviewer. It’s the candidate’s interview. Most neglect that perspective and simply go through the motions hoping for a good outcome…
3) How much does the CV format really matter to you?
It matters to me. Keep it simple. Don’t get creative. But manage the space effectively! Someone who can’t manage the overall content and flow of a resume or uses Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins all around is not a good fit for me. Someone who uses unconventional headings and sections is not a good fit either. It needs to be professional since I’m not hiring artists or musicians. Typically, headings in a left-column, good use of Bold and Italics fonts to highlight sections and jobs, etc. I even like the use of Small Caps myself – a simple but powerful distinction from what’s more traditional.
4) Do you have an example of a favorite cover letter that you can share? Or an unusual tip?
I’m generally opposed to cover letters these days. Life happens via email, so I don’t want a separate form letter attachment besides the resume. That cover email also needs to be “above the fold” since most professionals don’t have the time or attention span to read a full-page email about why someone wants or believes they are qualified for a job. Something simple to make a personal connection, and then I always appreciate a bit of bold initiative like “Would you mind speaking with me briefly next Thur to see if I’m a good fit?” or “I’m happy to meet you in your office any time next Tues if that’s convenient for you. If not, would you suggest another day/time that works for you?” That will surely turn off an HR person, but it’s going to do wonders to separate you from the crowd if you’re applying directly to a senior executive/business owner. Whether cover letter or resume, just make sure to use key words that are on the job posting. So much initial screening happens via computer programs now that it’s critical to be a match for the computer. Even most humans want to see that a person read the posting and isn’t blindly applying to 100 jobs.
5) What is one of things that can drive you most crazy when an applicant reaches out to you?
Just be sensible. Even when requesting an informational interview vs. full job interview. I had one candidate recently email me, leave me a message on my mobile phone and then text me all within about 24 hours. You can imagine how quickly I got back to her! Everyone is a little different, but for me I want an email first without any phone calls. I then want a follow up email a few days or perhaps a week later if I don’t respond. Not responding to your email probably means I’m busy and your email took me more than a nano-second to respond rather than I don’t like you. Being persistent with a follow up is a good thing for me. I might then call and leave a quick voice message – but only from there – if I don’t respond the 2nd time. BTW, people who don’t have jobs typically invite me to coffee or even lunch or sometimes simply say they’ll come to my office for an informational interview or to learn more about the field. Well, I don’t have a fixed office, and I never make time to meet candidates in person until I deem it necessary. Part of being sensible is being willing to speak by phone – even during a commute to/from work if that’s when the person might be less distracted. That won’t work for a full job interview but could be a great door opener just to chat by phone in a less threatening, in-my-face kind of way.
6) How soon is too soon to follow up on a CV/resume?
See #4 above. My response will vary if you’re submitting your resume through an HR/job portal vs. emailing it directly to the hiring executive. My response above was the latter. If you are just pursuing something online with no direct relationship, I doubt I would even bother following up at all. Whoever you contact in HR likely is too busy to respond if they even know the status of your application beyond “we’ve received your information and will get back to you if we see a fit.” In other words, try to connect directly with the hiring manager!
Thanks again, Jeremy!