How to Turn Off the Recruiting Manager…

This is a guest blog by Adrian Berwick, who is a very experienced and commercially aware Human Resources professional with a generalist HR background.  He has given support on issues ranging from input on strategic planning and business re-organisation through to practical advice on employee management issues including discipline, grievance, TUPE, ill health, redundancy, recruitment, remuneration and benefits, terms and conditions and pensions.  He recently started his own HR consultancy, having been an HR Director of a major Facilities Management company for 11 years.


How to Turn Off the Recruiting Manager…

We live in a fast-paced and highly competitive environment, none more so than when looking for our next career move.

In the recruitment process, it is likely that you will be up against a wide field of candidates and throughout the process, you will need to have that differentiating factor. But there are a few factors to take into consideration which could even prevent you making it to the start line.

Your CV may be the first thing that a recruiting manager will see and it should not just be a summary of your skills and experience – it should be able to say something about you as a person – your personality and your values.

In the first instance let’s consider some of the major reasons why CVs don’t do candidates any favours.

Length – general consensus of opinion is that you CV should be no more than 3 pages. It matters because time will be at a premium for the recruiting manager and furthermore, if it’s too long, it can illustrate your inability to be concise and focus on what’s important. The recruiting manager will be concerned that you may struggle to articulate the Company’s proposition when doing a pitch to a potential client.

Target market – your CV should be tailored for the specific role that you are applying for. Stand in the shoes of the reader and they will not want to read through pages of unrelated information and skills that are not relevant. The experience that is relevant to the role you’re applying should be the most prominent.

Transferable skills – focus on transferable skills. If you are applying for a role in Sales or Operations, the likelihood is that you will need relevant industry experience and knowledge but for Business Support functions such as IT, HR, Finance etc, your skills are transferable across sectors.

Transferable skills relate to people management and development, leadership, coaching, communications etc These skills also go some way to defining you as a person.

Focus on achievements – nothing is more frustrating when going through a CV than just reading through a list of a person’s duties in a role. Too many people just rattle off a list of bullet points straight from their job description……boring!
When trying to focus on achievements, it is advisable to use the SOAR model.

  • Set out the SITUATION you encountered;
  • describe the OBSTACLES you faced;
  • list the ACTIONS you took; and finally
  • describe the RESULTS you helped to achieve.

When listing results, remember that we live in a data rich society and we thrive on data…..therefore, try to illustrate your achievements in a quantifiable way – for instance, improved customer retention by 75% or reduced employee attrition by 20%.

SOAR is an excellent model to follow but be honest because the recruiting manager will want to go into detail about your SOAR and it will quickly become very apparent if you have either embellished or exaggerated your personal contribution.

Photo – having a photo on your CV will divide opinion but it is arguably less of an issue now than, maybe 10 years ago because the likelihood is that when a recruiting manager looks at your CV, they will check out your LinkedIn profile – unless the cv has been presented through an Agency and might not have a name on it.

If you are going to have a photo, ensure it is professional and you’re in business attire. If you want to share your holiday and wedding snaps, do it on Facebook or other social media but your CV and LinkedIn profile is designed for professional purposes.

Interests and hobbies – like it or not, reading through a mountain of CVs can become a chore and saying something about what you do outside work will bring you to life. Sometimes, if you share a hobby with the person reading your cv, it might strike a chord and similarly, you can measure personal qualities from hobbies. Training for a marathon or a 50 mile charity walk sends out a powerful message about values, self-discipline, drive, personal endurance, resilience, determination etc.

Outside work activities can also be an excellent opening at an interview to put people at ease – “I see you’re training for a charity cycle ride to Paris”…….

LinkedIn profile – in addition to your CV, your LinkedIn profile is a crucial part of your personal branding and markets you to others. It should be professional, relevant, up to date and there should not be any discrepancies or inconsistencies between your LinkedIn profile and the CV. Post the occasional article on industry relevant topics to show that you have an opinion and understand trending in your market or sector.

To put it bluntly, why is someone going to recruit you to sell their products if you can’t sell yourself on a CV or a linked in profile.

Bad mouthing – there may be 60 plus million of us in this country but it’s a very small world and with social media and LinkedIn etc, you will be surprised who is connected with who……. Bad mouthing or slagging off either employers or individuals is highly unprofessional and if you have parted company with a former employer via a settlement agreement, could land you in a lot of trouble if you are in breach of terms of the agreement.

Just remember – “careful who you upset on your way up because you might meet them on your way down”

Spelling and grammar – sloppy spelling sends out a message about lack of professionalism and pride and poor attention to detail. Poor spelling and grammar is simply inexcusable – do you really want a recruiting manager to create a first impression based around spelling mistakes on your cv and your linked in profile.

First impressions count and you don’t get a second chance to create a first impression.

Finally – be honest. Not all recruiting managers have been trained in interviewing which in itself is rather amusing but experienced recruiters will be able to detect the point at which you have gone past embellishment and will delve deeper and deeper before exposing you as a liar. Some will actually delight in it……


If you’d like to get in touch with Adrian directly, his LinkedIn profile is here and his company’s website is here.

And if you have a blog article that you’d like us to publish, please send your submissions to: matt.byrne@bluespoint.net.