Posts Tagged ‘ cv’s ’

Having Multiple Versions of your CV – the discussion continues

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Last weekend I asked a simple question on Twitter, it got an immediate reaction from many which inspired me to post the same question on the blog. “Do CVs Contain the Truth?”

Of course we all hope they do, we know that not all of them do.

There have been some great comments and discussions on- and offline. When I created the post I was thinking as both a candidate, which is what I am and as a hiring recruitment manager, which is also what I am.

From the candidates perspective I only have one linear history of experience and in my CV I always highlight what I have done and what I have achieved, all of it, over the last 10 years. I am only going to apply for jobs that are relevant to that experience, to do anything else I would be deceiving myself that I could be something that I am not.

This is a change for me. In previous years when I was selling hardware and software, based on advice from a so called recruiting and career expert, I had a number of CVs; one highlighting my direct sales experience, a second highlighting my channel sales experience, and other highlighting my management experience, all created in order to justify the application to a particular job, a job that I was probably not suitable for. None of them actually suitable for me either. I learned my lesson. As a candidate I had to know what I am good at, what I want to do and what I bring to the next job. One of the key things I look for when considering a new role is what that job or company can do for me; how will it help me develop.

I am looking for a new job now and can see how two CVs might help find a job, especially if I haven’t find THE job; one to highlight my ability to fill Reqs and the other more strategic and management focused. But for now I only have one CV. The CV. The history.

From a Recruitment Managers perspective I don’t actually care. I only see a CV, I don’t know if it is one of one or one of many. I don’t care. It is what it is and I have to make a judgement and decision on it. What I do care about is being able to read a CV and believe it is a true representation of a candidate’s experience. If I start to have doubts then I won’t be inclined to proceed with the candidate.

I was interested in the comments from my fellow in-house recruiters and recruitment managers who said that they would rather read a CV that has points specific and relevant to the position applied for highlighted, to them I ask “how would you know that what you are reading has been created for you?” “How do you know they have read and understood the job description?” There is no way of knowing at all.

If we encourage candidates to alter CVs to highlight skills and experience simply touched upon, are we not asking for all CVs to be documents of aspiration? In doing so, are we then not diminishing the value of a CV as well as our ability to rely on them as a testament to skills, experience and knowledge genuinely earned and learned?

There is no right or wrong to this practice. It is simply a personal preference.

But it is worth thinking about it’s worth, rather than just accepting it as a good idea.


Do CVs contain the truth?

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Is tailoring a CV to fit a job or a company dishonest? Is it deception?

Do we as Recruiting Professionals or hiring managers not want to know that what we are reading is the absolute truth and not just a version of it?

As a job hunter I only have one stream of experience that might be relevent to the roles I am applying for so don’t see the benefit, but ……………………….


The “Apply with LinkedIn” Button – End of the World?

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When I read the announcement last night by Gigaom about LinkedIn’s new Apply with LinkedIn button my first thought was “oh dear what are they doing now?”. My next thought was “how will this integrate with eRecruitment systems to the point that the profile information can be parsed into the appropriate fields in the system?”

As taxing as it was I had a further think. eRecruitment systems rely for the most part on applications from people and the submission of CVs which are then stored within a ring-fenced environment to be acted upon or searched upon at a later date. There is a fundamental problem that has caused anguish to candidates, software vendors and users of these solutions for as long as they have existed. They are cumbersome to use; typically the design by the user rather than the software vendor is at fault; they require the candidate to upload a new CV every now and again and they require the employer to store surplus data, which then in turn means compliance with various regulations related to Data Privacy and Protection legislation.

However if we dispensed with CVs altogether (not likely to happen but history is full of improbables realised) and just used LinkedIn (or as the BBC might say “other platforms are available”, but for the sake of this post I will refer to them all as LinkedIn) profiles as our career resume then all that needs to transfer between LinkedIn and the employers systems is a stub/pointer.

The impact points I see are

  • Candidates will have one accurate profile to maintain that is available to all
  • It will possibly reduce the instances of fraudulent CV claims
  • It will vastly reduce (not likely to eliminate) the number and unilateral dependence on CV’s
  • LinkedIn profiles will become more robust and dependable
  • eRecruitment systems will become challenged to offer something new rather than just a rework of the same old technology processes that have been around for 20 years
  • The profiles can be linked to different talent groups within companies and tracked and communicated with accordingly
  • Arguably it could signal the end of the eRecruitment systems, as we know them (or completely?)
  • It will definitely hit the agencies hard – let’s face it if there is one group of beings who love to think Candidate Ownership it is them. (I’m smirking already!)
  • No more mass storage requirements for employers to manage
  • Job boards are likely to have to adapt to the openness or their relevance and value is likely to fall away. Only the nimble will survive
  • This concept married with the Recruiter Tool get closer to a total solution for employer and candidate

I see so many advantages for this in the corporate space that I am excited by the possibilities.

On the down side it could encourage and increase in the number of applications received by a company. A problem scenario for already swamped recruiting teams. In the announcement made last night it claims that LinkedIn will provide some pre-screening questions to enable on-line filtering – they are never likely to be as robust as the specific filtering questions required by companies, when you consider the questions needed to be asked of applicants in the Financial Services, Pharma and Security spaces and you get the picture. One possible answer to this would be full integration with the eRecruitment systems to ensure that when the application is made using the button the eRecruitment system filtering then takes over.

Another issue is the question about the LinkedIn platform and its overall identity. LinkedIn is moving further and further away from a networking platform to a job hunting or candidate sourcing platform – dare I call it a career board. Is this a bad thing though? It’s flexibility as a networking platform is restricted by is linear structure and the controls it imposes and let’s face it, it knows what it has in terms of potential candidate data so why would it want to be anything else?

I am haven’t been a big fan of not using CVs but I can see and embrace the logic behind it. I know that it will take a while for many of the hiring managers embedded in traditional ways of doing things to adjust. It will also take companies a while to adopt and trust the profiles, it is change and a challenge to tradition after all. Also don’t forget that there be a huge challenge to the regulatory compliance people who are so intransigent and even resistant to change at this level.

All this aside I am in favour of doing away with the dependence on a CV and the assumption that one is needed and using LinkedIn (or similar) profiles in their place (so long as candidates recognise that they have to provide the data in the profile in the first place.

So after writing that little lot and having had a chat with LinkedIn today I can confirm that this is all speculation. Nothing has been announced or confirmed by LinkedIn …………yet!


A Picture is worth a 1000 words – or Nothing at all!

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In the last couple of years we have all seen an increase in the number of CV’s that are submitted that include a photograph of the candidate. Why is this? Who suggested it would be a good idea? I suspect that the use of photographs in CVs has increased as a result of people’s use of LinkedIn and Facebook, two sites that already have them in personal profiles, who knows?

There has been much debate and plenty of comments made about the value and use of photos in CVs. Within The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers there has been a discussion on this very subject and some very valid points raised both sides of the debate. Some people say that depending on the role and the quality and type of photo could help form an opinion around suitability, especially for customer facing roles, but the vast majority (around 90%) are against it because it could be used against a candidate – it shouldn’t be, but it could be.

As a professional recruiter I am one of a team of people who is (or should be) the first person to see a CV as it comes into the company and you wouldn’t believe the quality of some of the photographs that are included. They range from those that look like mug shots of criminals (the vast majority) to ones that look as if they were taken on a night out. Very few are professional “business” photos – and guess what? I try to ignore them all and wouldn’t be able to recall a single face in a CV unless it was blatantly stupid. This is the same for the majority of professional recruiters in other companies as well, certainly the ones that I have spoken with. Some take the sensible step of removing the pictures from CV’s as they arrive before they are passed to hiring managers. Others take the rather harsh position, that a photo on a CV shows a poor lack of judgement and rejects the candidate immediately. Neither practice supports the use of photos on CVs.

Putting myself in the position of a candidate, which I have been on occasion (honestly, I have), I am or would be sensitive to any discrimination against me based on age, race or gender. In that position I am grateful that laws exist so that I don’t have to put such details on a CV anymore. So why on earth would I put a picture on it? It would open me up to the kind of discrimination that I wanted to avoid.

Personally I think the use of photos on CVs is poor practice and a very bad idea and should be discouraged, if not stopped altogether. I could care less how ugly or attractive you are! A photo on a CV adds absolutely no value to the CV or to your chance of being considered for a job. Whilst none of us should judge a book by its cover if I see a photo I automatically think the candidate shows poor judgement, not a good start when applying for a job. Like it or not, it is human nature to form prejudices, some of which are of course harmful and unacceptable and we work hard to keep them out of the decision process around hiring. There are however many managers in hiring positions in all companies who do not share the same professional approach and who might not have the council of professional recruiters to keep them honest. Nobody likes this but it is there, so why as a candidate would you provide a picture that highlights the three main reasons why someone might be discriminated against? Think about it. A picture is not clever; it is not needed, serves no purpose at all and could work against you.

Candidate Application & Interview Humour #2- sometimes you can only get by with laughter!

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The following shows the funny side of the in-house recruiters and interviewers job. These have been lifted from a discussion of similar title on The FIRM’s LinkedIn Group pages. The names and companies have been removed to allow us to share! this is Part 2 I posted the first installment of these in Sept last year

Head of Recruiting – Retail Org (UK) – My Director recently interviewed a new consultant for my team. The candidate, who we have hired, told her the storey of why she never became a vet as she injected a hamster with to much morphine, it belonged to a school! My Director said they way the candidate told the storey made her laugh so much she had tears in hers eyes, so much so she thought she was fab!

Recruiter – Computer Software Co (France) – A funny one from a recent recruitment before summer:
When making a verbal offer at the last stage: the candidate replied that it will give her plenty of money… to feed a new duck.

Then followed a surreal 4 minutes conversation about ducks and how they can make really nice pets.

Of course she accepted the offer !

Director TA – Management Consultancy (Australia) – Years ago while working for another Big 5 firm, a candidate I had already interviewed phoned me from the interview room to my extension. I had arranged for him to have a final interview with a Partner from the Consulting practice. It was a Friday afternoon, about 3pm. I was surprised to get a call from the candidate during the interview time but the reason he rang was to tell me that the Partner had fallen asleep during the interview!!! I asked him if he was sure and he said “Yeah, totally sparko” I asked him to stay where he was. I went to the room and sure enough found the candidate sitting opposite a 48 year old partner who was head back, mouth open, fast asleep in the chair. What is the protocol here?? I asked the candidate to wait outside. I prodded the Partner who eventually stirred (smelling of gin & tonic) but in nano seconds said “Now where were we?” as if nothing had happened! I explained to him that he had fallen asleep and he said “Nonsense! The chap was just unbelievably dull’. After a few minutes and an order of coffee for the interviewer, I convinced the candidate and Partner to resume the interview, which they did. The candidate didn’t get the job… I am not at all sure that he wanted to!

Head of Resourcing – Insurance Co (UK) True story – One of the recruiters on my team interviewed a candidate who wanted to examine the restroom prior to being interviewed. He then graced her with his presence by stating that the toilets were in exemplary condition and was happy to proceed with being interviewed. Fortunately he was easily rejected due to lack of technical expertise. Which role do you think he was applying for?

Senior Recruiter – Comms Co (UK) – Not an interview but based on a CV… received one in the UK from an overseas applicant….I wont go into a raft of detail on content – far too funny (or controversial) for global consumption – but under interests it simply stated ‘Breathing’ …. Oh I love those pigeon language translation tools on Google !!!!

Recruitment Manager – Engineering Co (UK) – In an old position I once worked in I had a lot of more junior positions to fill and used to love the weird and wonderful email addresses people now have an also wonder why on earth would you put it on a cv??? Here are a couple of choice ones I remember –
f* (there was no * there!)

Also I was once hiring for a customer service position in Glasgow when we had a candidate sent in via the job centre on the “back to work” scheme to give interviews to the long term unemployed. At the end of the short interview I asked what she likes to do outside of work/hobbies etc, The answer was “I like going out with my mates and getting belted like a rubber monkey” and “if I can remember getting home and remember who I’m with, it’s a bonus”. Whatever the first thing she said was I have no idea but answers on a postcard please !!! She never got the job !

Finally I got a CV in for a lady called “J Peace”, good CV so we brought her in and it turns out her first name was “Joyan”, my first thought was why do parents do that, Joyan Peace, must have been hippies, the interview never went that well and took a real downturn when I asked her does she have a brother called Warren !!!!

Recruitment Manager – Facilities Co (UK) Love these comments 😉

This was not an interviewee comment but something I received back from a line manager in response to my interview notes and recommendations on a candidate. (I should explain here that I work in the Space industry and well, basically, recruit Rocket Scientists).

So, having interviewed an Astronomer I duly sent my notes to the line manager and technical CV reviewer with an additional comment that whilst he seemed to have all the right technical skills he was a ‘bit of a mad scientist’ and so the line manager should consider if and how he would want to manage such a character and how this would affect his client relationships in an on-site situation.

The response I got was brilliant, bearing in mind the line manager himself had a forehead and hairdo like Einstein.

“‘Thanks for your comments, as we are all mad scientists here shouldn’t have any problems at all managing (said candidate) its all the normal people you keep sending me that scare me and the customer to death!!!!

Gotta love ’em!

Recruitment Manager – Engineering Co (UK) – One of my managers many moons ago was involved in reviewing the cv’s that were given to him by our over zealous graduate recruitment person. She had sent through to him a pile of over 500 cv’s that all had the correct degrees etc so theoretically could be suitable, but on seeing this his heart sank.

Unbeknown to me, he proceeded to tell his secretary that in life, it’s all a lottery and to get on in life you need to have luck as well as ability, at this point he split the pile in two and shredded one of them, when I asked what the bloomin’ heck had he done, he said “they weren’t lucky” !!!!

Thankfully we didn’t have that many people chasing applications, and the graduate recruiter doesn’t now pass on originals !!

Recruitment Director – Managment Consultants (UK) – I remember fondly the CVs I used to screen for quant analysts. I always love ones with hobbies included, because every so often you get a blinder. My memorable one was someone who stated “I have an avid love of emergency vehicles.” What?! He was invited in and the hapless candidate was provoked into talking about ambulances for 20 minutes by the unwillingly-curious hiring manager.

Also, calling back to spell checkers mentioned further up the thread, they aren’t infallible… I had a good chuckle when I found one man’s career had been unfairly cut short due to a woman…. His dates of employment were “January until Jane”.

Finally, emails – graduates are the worst. In the same campaign a few years ago we got both ‘princessbigboobies@xxxxxxx’ and ‘lilmissgangsta89@xxxxxx’ Neither were interviewed thankfully, despite calls from some corners…

Recruitment Director – Facilities Co (Netherlands) – I’ve just received a CV for a CV/Proposal Writer with fluent French and English, I wish I could post the whole thing but will share a few of the best bits with you:

The covering email reads:
“My professional experiences as well as my faculties of adaptation allow me to glimpse this activity.

I would be very happy to be part of a dynamic team in which I could show evidence my background and experience.
I join to the present my CV that I will comment orally at the interview.”

Now that SHOULD have prepared me for what the CV would read like but I have to admit crying with laughter by the end of it, and the extremely stressed bid director (who is not normally known for his sense of humour) thanked me for forwarding it and giving him a sense of reality in the middle of such a busy period…….

Here’s a few snippets:
Under “Personal and Hobby”
“Sense of the organization admin, good team spirit, prompt, able to work quickly, capacity of autonomy, sense of the deontology, capacity of call welcome, opened to the new ideas and formations.

Mind of initiative, facilitated of adaptation, smiling, easy contact.
Welcome & orientation customer.
Convivial, Elocution comfortable and excellent spelling”

(Er, What is a “sense of deontology”?)
(The BD said: Maybe I should try elocution comfortable, would it help with writing bids ?)

And under “Experiment” instead of Experience! …….
2001 – 2002 Commercial in insurance Blows saving & pension

The best is the: “languages; Anglais : good written and spoken” (“Anglais” in an English CV for a Proposal Writer?)

Gotta love those free on-line translation tools, eh!
Needless to say I won’t be short listing that one

Recruitment Manager – Oil & Gas Co (UK) – Brilliant!! Remember a couple of CV’s from my old agency days in particular that always made me chuckle.

One was from a candidate who applied for a junior customer services role. He was currently a part time cabaret dancer who also doubled as a waiter at a well known themed restaurant. He proceeded to state that he was officially a “natural born griller”!! I wanted to invite him for interview for that line alone.

Also received a CV from a senior IT professional in one of the world’s leading brands. For a reason that is still unknown to me, he had stated under interests that he was a skiing fanatic and that his nickname on the slopes was yellow racer! It was so out of character for his CV. However a few sentences later he also offered up his marital status. His status was “Single…..but in love”!! Awww bless!!

Loads more I could share including a CV from a candidate who explained a gap in their employment history away due to being held hostage in the Middle East!! Sure beats refurbishing an old house anyway!!

Senior Recruiter – Computer Software (Switzerland) – I got one with the same kind of gap explanation: “held hostage by Sadam Hussain, as humain shield”

A really like the Hobby part. I got a ” watching Discovery channel” from a Business Analyst. I also got a high percentage of “reading philosophy” in Receptionist CVs, i don’t really know why (i am now used to quote Kant at the end of this kind of interview – to be fair i had to check the quote on internet – and usually no reaction)

A particular cover letter was on the wall in my previous office, coming once again from a Business Analyst working for a really big bank producing specs. a 2 pages cover letter without any break, dot, and a very limited number of commas. And no, it was not a keyboard issue, i have asked….

Recruitment Manager – Transport Org (UK) – I interviewed a graduate candidate once who’s answer to the question “what would you say your weaknesses are?” replied straight away “chocolate”, paused, then added “ooohhh and shoes, definitely chocolate and shoes….”

I sat there with a stunned partner trying not to laugh out loud…

Ethics and Behaviour – why are Agency types so bad?

Not all of them but………..

It has been an interesting week this week on a number of fronts. However what has stood out to me in the last few days is the poor, some might say desperate business practices and levels of communication that exist in the recruiting market. It would be good if I could actually say it is the few that spoil if for the majority, unfortunately it is the majority that cause the issues.

This week I have had direct experience of, witnessed and been informed about the kind of behavior that has no place in a mature and grown up business world and the kind of behavior that only fans the flames of discontent that many have with agencies

The first instance was when at my desk I received an email from someone we used to do business with when he worked for an agency we use. I politely wrote back pointing out that he knew for sure how we worked and further explaining that we don’t accept speculative CV’s, we have a PSL and we cannot do business with him or his company. I asked him to call me or email me in another year if he wanted to try for the PSL then. He obviously couldn’t wait (or read) and calls me in about 60 seconds of receiving the email. The call lasted about 30 seconds and he now knows there is no point in calling in a year either! Why did he do that?

The second issue came about via a contact of mine in The FIRM. I’ll call her Sue for simplicity. She has this week received an invoice from an individual who had set himself up as a one-man band agency, let’s call him Dave. The invoice came about because a few months ago he without any prior contact with Sue sent a speculative CV to her. At the time she apparently rejected the CV because there were no vacancies etc. No relationship or dialogue was established and Sue thought that was the end of it. Time moves on and in recent weeks a few vacancies have been approved and Sue engaged with a search firm to source for candidates for her. They are successful and make the necessary hires. Sue then receives an invoice out of the blue from Dave for one of the placements, claiming a fee as a result of the speculative CV sent months before. No communication at all just an invoice. Why is this happening?

The question of how valid are speculative CV’s? has come up a number of times this week. It seems to be happening more and more. Is it a sign that agency people (I refuse to called them recruiters or consultants – they are neither) are desperate and are willing to try anything to generate business, regardless of how unethical it is? Whilst the practice has been common since agencies first existed, I am seeing an increase. Whilst sympathetic to their plight, these “send and hope” method is not the way to go about things; it is lazy and certainly will never justify a fee!

In the UK, companies are under no obligation to pay a fee to an agency unless they have received written instruction from an authorised source at a company instructing them to work on a specific vacancy and to submit CVs for it. So why do agencies continue to send them? Especially in today’s world where getting in contact with someone we want to speak with is but a few clicks away!

I also read some appalling immature comments online about an article in this month’s Recruiter magazine. Under the heading Consultants? Pah! a columnist who apparently happens to be an in-house recruiter made some contentious comments in her column. I personally don’t agree with some of what she said or her tone, but there were one or two comments made as feedback that came from the very people that give agencies a bad name; they showed a very poor level emotional maturity considering the in-house community they attack happen to be their customers! Now we know who they are. I expect in house recruiters will make their own conclusions about the value of doing business with such immature people.

Whist we are not obliged to educate the agencies and their staff I believe that if we want to improve the levels of service we have to help them help us.

I for one am open to having open discussions with any CEO, Owner or resposible managment of a company that provides sourcing or recruiting services, if it will help. The members of The FIRM are already participating in panel discussions with agencies to try and help them understand what is expected of them and how to go about delivering it.

Agencies have a place; bad practice and unethical behavior doesn’t.