Please, no more stock CVs

New Year – New Job? A client despairing of trying to differentiate between applicants sent me this list, they had received four job applications for an administrator that were almost identical.

Key Skills & Qualities 

  • Self-motivated, reliable & responsible worker
  • Very strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Team player with ability to work on own initiative when required
  • Flexible, adaptable, someone who pays attention to detail
  • Helpful, accommodating, friendly and courteous
  • Good keyboard skills
  • Computer Literate, good knowledge of all packages
  • Full Driving Licence
  • DBS checked

“What should I do?” was the question, “when we interview we have to ask identical questions, and can’t tease answers out of people. If we go in any way “off piste” we run the risk of having a complaint levelled against us from an unsuccessful applicant”.

It’s not easy and I felt for them. The challenge is there no matter what post you are seeking to fill. A few years ago I sat in on the recruitment interviews for an associate position in a private practice. Again the CVs were all laid out in the same way. “Self-motivated, team player etc”. The individuals had all brought portfolios of their work, all showed lovely post-treatment photographs but none had any taken 5 years down the line.

From what we could judge they all had 100% success rates – but in their position what would I have done? In hindsight one question we should have asked was, “tell us about your failures” and then taken note of their body language. Anyone can look good on paper and will always show their best photographs. It’s what someone does when things go wrong that marks them out.

At my first interview post-qualification I was grilled by a panel of professors and consultants. I had decided before I sat and faced them, that I had no hope of being appointed so I told the truth, warts and all. I was then sent for a chat and a look round with the Dean’s secretary, who found out far more abut me.

I got the job. 20 others did not.

Tips on interviewing:

  • Avoid cliches – people know what to expect.
  • Don’t be afraid of people who are not an “exact fit” – beware love at first sight.
  • Focus on behavioural and situational questions.
  • Beware of biases – know yourself.
  • Shut up and listen.
  • Prepare and give of your best.
  • Don’t make your mind up until after the person has left. There is little to be gained from rushing.

As for the CV – there are hundreds of sites on line telling you “how to”, why not ask someone who is in the business of reading CVs regularly what they look for and how you can differentiate yourself.

Finally don’t forget what you have put in it – it’s embarrassing when you are asked about a claim that is false, I have seen that happen too.




Published by Alun Rees

Dental Business Coach. Analyst. Troubleshooter. Consultant. Writer. Presenter. Broadcaster.

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