Be their type on paper: CV tips

Posted in Blog on 18 Jul 2018

Hiring Managers far from bumble through the application shortlisting process, with it taking on average 6 seconds to decide if a CV is a yes or no.

Simply, your CV should represent the best version of you and shouldn’t compromise on details of the qualities that make you uniquely suited to the position. Generic cliché’s may seem part and parcel of the application process and will probably remain part of recruitment lingo but can often do more harm than good, especially when the reviewer has a stack of applications that are almost indistinguishable.

Our Recruitment Consultants share their thoughts on how you can be a hirers type on paper by identifying which buzzwords and phrases you should avoid listing in your CV / application and offering some alternative options…

“hard worker” 

A hirer will want a hard-worker, why employ someone who isn’t? However, this is statement is ambiguous and relatively unquantifiable. Your efforts will have had pay-offs and in turn these successes provide a benchmark of your quality as a worker. Are you consistently diligent, efficient, driven, have a positive attitude? Emphasise not on what you have done but instead the value that you have delivered. Provide examples of how your hard work has had a positive impact on performance at individual, team and business level and use active rather than passive language to back these up.

For instance:

  • Active: My department created 15% revenue growth (year to date)
  • Passive: 15% revenue growth was recorded in our department across this year so far. 

  • Active: After just six months, I earned a promotion to manager and now oversee the work of four fee-earners. 
  • Passive: A promotion to manager was given to me after six months in the role. 

Luke Whatmough

Principal Consultant
0161 233 6360

Luke joined Douglas Scott in 2016 as part of the Master Vendor team. He now heads up Legal Costs recruitment on a nationwide basis for the National Insurance desk. He deals with a range of clients including leading specialist costs practices and top tier law firms. Luke has previous recruitment experience account managing an international desk with a focus on Personal Injury. He undertook Law Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and regularly participates in charity events concerning young men’s mental health in his spare time.

"I would like to express my gratitude to Luke Whatmough for the service he has provided. He made the process of applying for a job so much easier with his friendly manner and prompt replies. He has remained professional and welcoming. 

He specifically ensured that I was well prepared for the interview and contacted me prior to the interview to ensure that I was OK, which gave me peace of mind. After getting the job due to unforeseen circumstances, I encountered difficulties with my notice period. Luke spoke to the HR manager of my new employers directly and ensured that they were able to accommodate for me. 

Overall, it has been a great experience and a friendly personality is always a bonus."

“team player”

All roles require and necessitate teamwork, even if you predominantly work alone using your own initiative it’s likely that your work contributes on a wider scale and relates to the positions of other people. Essentially, it’s rare that you would not have developed any teamwork-based skills, even if you’re not the overt the “team player” many claim to be.

With teamwork being a hallmark of most modern jobs, it’s expected that being a team player is part of your arsenal of skills. Therefore, listing it as a positive trait doesn’t help you stand out. Instead, you should focus on particular and exemplary instances of effective teamwork as well as stating how these examples demonstrate why these make you a good candidate for the position.

  • My team have collectively surpassed our team targets by over 50% (on average) for the year so far. 
  • Alongside my fellow charity committee members, I have helped to raise a total £8,000 for charity through the co-ordination of several internal and external events.

The counter argument here is that so-called team players unselfishly and heroically make sacrifices on an individual level for the benefit of their team. Whilst such passion is a great attribute, team achievement shouldn’t come at the expense of one of its members but be built on equality and be a benefit of unity.

“highly motivated / enthusiastic”

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting to highlight your enthusiasm or a love for your career! If anything, energetic and invigorative qualities are incredibly desirable. Used well and alongside evidence such as a promotion or a strategic move these phrases work. However, if dropped into your CV in an isolated context it doesn’t have the same effect.

The implication is that you are progression orientated and have a desire to achieve, but to achieve what? 

You can expand on the phrase more specifically by (where relevant) detailing your goals and clearly detailing your progression to date. If invited for interview, reference how your aspirations align with the priorities of the business more specifically.

If you write in an engaging manner, then your enthusiasm should be evident. Although this should not come at the expense of being concise and professional, especially in terms of tone.

“dedicated” / “committed”

Both these words come under the spotlight, again for their relative vagueness. For one, it is expected that you will be committed to your position. Furthermore, if you are leaving your current role in search of another job elsewhere your claim of dedication could be perceived as somewhat contradictory. More often than not commitment does not need to be stated.

Listing long periods of employment history or providing clear examples of your experience and market knowledge should in itself demonstrate a long-standing interest in your chosen field.

Specifically state what you are dedicated or committed to – is it a particular field or practice area, generating growth and developing business, engaging with new clients, promoting equal opportunities and diversity, championing an inclusive and equal work environment or self-development? 

Steven Baylis

Senior Recruitment Consultant
0161 233 6360

Steven joined Douglas Scott in early 2016 and began his recruitment career in 2013. He previously worked for one of the largest global HR service providers as an account manager and 360 recruitment consultant. He is a member of the Locum team, primarily focusing on the North West and Yorkshire areas but also works on a nationwide basis. Steven works with a large selection of clients, helping facilitate recruitment for temporary and contract positions across all practice areas of the legal sector and for specialist short-term projects. He works with candidates of all levels from both non-qualified and qualified backgrounds. Steven has an AVCE in IT.

"Steven Baylis is by far the most efficient, charismatic and committed recruiter I have come across. Having dealt with numerous agencies and not had great experiences, Steven has exceeded my expectations. He was able to get a very good understanding of my current situation, kept in constant contact, and went out of his way to accommodate my needs. I highly recommend Steven Baylis and his ability to effectively communicate, care for his clients and ultimately, get the job done in a speedy manner."

Conveyancing Assistant | Manchester

For more insight on CVs tips check out our advice page and infographics. You can view our latest vacancies here to send your newly updated CV directly to one of our expert consultants. Contact us on 0161 233 6360 for more information.

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