In an increasingly competitive and candidate driven market – and the reality is that over the last six months the market dynamic has certainly shifted this way – as a candidate you have to think about how you can positively differentiate yourself from the competition. At face value this might seem hard as you don’t know who the competition is or what they can offer potential employers. Even more reason therefore to take a step back and really think about your skillsets and experience, and address how you can make the biggest impact and impression on employers via one of your strongest available tools – your CV.
Peter Reid, Senior Manager at Page Personnel Human Resources sees hundreds of CVs so really knows what to look out for and what makes a truly effective CV. Here, Peter gives his advice on crafting a tailored human resources CV to land whichever role it is that you are aiming for.
In some ways, the best way to approach writing a great CV is to turn things around and imagine that you are the line manager recruiting for the role. What would you want to see on a CV? What would make you sit up and take note? What would make you want to meet the person behind the paper?
A CV is your sales pitch and the most effective ones sell you based upon your professional experience. How you present yours can be the difference between getting a phone call straight away and getting put on the bottom of the pile. Beyond general CV writing best practice the most important factor in a CV is how much it tells an employer about this candidates’ ability to perform the tasks required of the role in question. With that in mind detailing specific experience and showing how it relates to this particular role is a highly effective method for getting your CV noticed.
I always advise candidates to tailor their CV to each type of role they apply for. For example, if you are looking for roles at HR advisor level you will need to focus your CV around whatever experience you have in employee relations, first line advisory support, change management and HR policy. You can still mention any HR administration experience you have but this needs to be recorded lower down the CV as it will be less relevant to your search for HR advisor level roles.
When detailing that experience think about how you can present it to have maximum effect. Be explicit in explaining your involvement throughout the various employee relations cases; did you lead disciplinary or grievance processes or were you acting in a supporting capacity?
Also be mindful to detail the variety and volume of exposure you have had to the various facets of HR advisory tasks. For example if you have had a high volume of casework experience be very clear as to how many cases you may have managed at any one time. Two similar CVs may state that a candidate has ‘experience managing employee relations casework’ but the reality may be that candidate one has managed two cases in the previous six months whereas candidate two had been managing 20-25 at a time. This could be the difference between getting an interview and missing out to another candidate. Potential employers can’t guess these things, you must make it very clear on your CV.
This works for other HR functions as well. If you are working in internal recruitment and resourcing it is easy to state that you are responsible for the end-to-end recruitment lifecycle for your company. But surely it is better to go a few steps further and reveal how many roles you typically recruit for at any one time, what level of role and in which functions/departments. Potential employers will want to know how you source and attract talent – do you source directly, via social media or do you have relationships with recruitment consultancies?
Try to avoid using broad terms and focus on things that you are specifically responsible for. For example HR administration is a fairly broad terms so go into detail about whether it relates to raising offer letters and contracts, on-boarding new starters, changes to employee details, transfers, recruitment or training.
Always detail and key achievements within a role and specify how they relate to the responsibilities you are highlighting. For example: ‘successfully managed a recruitment campaign for 25 new sales roles,’ or ‘saved the company £X by reducing long term sickness absenteeism by 25% within six months.’ These achievements show a potential employer the value you are capable of bringing to their company and in particular the role you are applying for.
It is always advisable to be very clear about your relevant HR qualifications gained to date – be it a CIPD, CPP etc. I also think that it is worth declaring any intentions you have to undertake further qualifications and why. If you are serious about these intentions and prepared to back them up in interview it can give potential employers an idea of your level of professional ambition and career development plan. If you have obtained a degree, particularly an HR or business related degree, make sure to detail any modules or components which are relevant to the job in question.
Ultimately you know your experience better than anyone. In a competitive HR marketplace those candidates who can best translate that experience into a well-written, tailored CV which speaks to the specifics of the role they are applying for will be best positioned to secure an interview and land the job.
We recently surveyed our recruitment specialists to find out what they believe is really important on a CV. Both detailing experience and covering responsibilities rank highly and are aspects which job seekers underestimate. For a confidential discussion about career opportunities in human resources contact Peter Reid, Senior Manager and Michael Page Human Resources.
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