A view from the other (recruiter’s) side

By Mark McDonald, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers Dublin North

It’s 3.30 on a Friday afternoon and an Assistant Engineering Manager in a busy food and beverage manufacturing facility has just sat down at his desk to begin the next phase of a recruitment drive. His department has advertised for two specialised engineering technicians who need to have certain skills specific to this particular environment.

Mark McDonald
Mark McDonald, Career Coach Tel: +353 86 3812 555

He has 70 CV’s and cover letters on his desk and needs to filter them down to eight for for interview. He is tired. He is not looking forward to the next two hours.

This Assistant Engineering Manager was me a little more than two years ago. The reality was that 3.30pm on a Friday was the first chance I had to sit down and properly go through the CV’s which had been sent to me by an external recruiter who had handled the initial advertisement, filtering and screening. I always approached the task with an open mind and believed that every CV deserved an equal amount of time and consideration.

I’m trying to identify the best fit candidates based on their previous experience, qualifications, and individual skill sets. Some applicants won’t have studied the original job spec close enough and, even if they have the required skills and talents, they won’t have highlighted them enough within their CV and cover letter. I have no choice but to discount them in order to be fair to the applicants who have gotten this bit right.

My next problem is how to deal with the CV’s which are either too short or too long. Around about 3.30pm on a Friday is not the best time to be reading four- and five-page CV’s. In my opinion – and that of many recruiters – CV’s should be two pages except in some rare circumstances. A five-pager who is a good match is going to lose out to a two pager who is equally well matched.

My initial pile of 70 CV’s has now reduced considerably as the clock approaches 5.30pm. My next task is to re-read my remaining applications in order to determine which ones jump out. Who has sold themselves in their CV and cover letter? Who is telling me they really want this position and will add value to the organisation?

Who has really studied the job spec, researched our company, tailored their CV and cover letter to best reflect this, and finally took the time to check the basics i.e. spelling and grammar. It might seem harsh to discount someone for spelling and grammar at this point, but I have never met this person and their CV and cover letter are the only indicators I have to work with at present.

The role I’m recruiting for is technical and requires incredible attention to detail. If the application is sloppy – what does that tell me?

When applying for a job, try to think of the person on the other end. Make it as easy as possible for them to say ‘yes I like the look of this’. Recruitment is a people-driven dynamic. Getting the basics right can help your application to go a long way.

Mark McDonald is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Dublin North. You can read more about him, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from his blog can be accessed HERE