Five mistakes HR professionals make with their CVs

by HRD28 May 2018

How often have you read an HR CV and thought to yourself ‘they should know better’?

Many employers are frustrated by the poor standard of application they too often receive from HR people, according to Karen Gately, founder of HR consultancy Ryan Gately.

“Simple errors, missing vital information and untargeted efforts are among the most common complaints I hear,” said Gately.

“The fundamental mistake I observe HR people make is failing to demonstrate the depth of their professional HR capabilities through the process.” 

Gately said the simple reality is most employers expect an above average if not expert standard of CV from HR applicants. 

“The CV you present undoubtedly reflects upon not only your current capabilities but also potential,” she added. 

“The best HR CVs are those that demonstrate understanding of the organisation’s people objectives and how you can help to achieve them.” 

She added that the more HR professionals can understand about the organisation’s vision, strategy, culture and capabilities the more they can align how you present yourself to what they need. 

“Don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate the influential member of the HR team you can be by presenting a CV designed for each opportunity you put your hand up for. ”

Gately said that to win the confidence of prospective employers it’s important to avoid making these five common mistakes.

Inconsistencies and exaggerations. Dates that don’t add up, gaps in your CV relative to what appears on your LinkedIn profile or achievements claimed that seem unlikely, given the position you held, create doubts in the employer’s mind. The last thing you want is for the employer to be left confused or doubtful of your honesty. 

Untargeted information. Simply submitting a generic CV that describes what you have done in the past is unlikely to impress. 

Take the time to reflect on how your experiences are relevant to the role you are applying for.  Share insight into relevant achievements and the context within which you were operating at the time. 

While your job description may well be a good place to start in describing the role you currently perform, never simply ‘cut and paste’ the text unedited into your CV.  Doing so presents as lazy and unprofessional. Avoid making it difficult for the employer to understand how your experience directly relates to the role you are applying for.

Using ‘dear sir/madam’. If you want to stand out as a high potential candidate, never begin the process by addressing the employer with ‘dear sir/madam’.  Be respectful and demonstrate sincere interest in the role by speaking directly to the people you are looking to influence.  Demonstrate also that you have invested time and energy learning about their business.

Irrelevant referees. While in some circumstances it is understandable why you can’t provide a direct report manager as a referee, those you do provide need to make sense.  It’s a poor reflection on your professional judgement to suggest the employer speak to people who are unlikely to provide the depth of insight needed.

Spelling errors and poor grammar. It’s difficult to have confidence in a candidate who fails to get the basics right; especially when they work in HR.  Simple mistakes can leave an impression of tardiness, disinterest and ultimately a lack of professionalism.  Addressing your application to the wrong person or misspelling their name are obstacles most employers will struggle to move past.

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