Oh how I judge your CV

So I recently secured my dream job and am now helping to recruit my replacement (associate level position at a small REPE firm). This means I'm the one screening CVs (in conjunction with my MD, but they agree generally with my assessments) and deciding who gets invited to an interview and who not. Thought I'd put a little rant together of things that I judge people on.

  • Intro paragraphs on CVs: don't waste my time, I just want to see your experience in black and white and not how you're BS'ing about yourself. I hate cover letters, it gives me no useful info about yourself. I never submitted one when applying for jobs and did just fine. Give me facts, not vague descriptions.
  • Putting your "skills" at the top off the CV: again this is just BS, I want to see this demonstrated in your work experience and not you listing that you are skilled in "Valuations" and "Financial modelling"
  • Putting in a "skills" section that lists things that are fluffy. To give you an example, the other day I binned a CV where a guy had written things like "Problem solving" and "Time management" and in explaining then, just included basic definitions of what those things are. It was like reading a dictionary. Financial modelling is a skill because it can be demonstrated, languages are a skill because they can be demonstrated, "communication" is just something that anyone can write.
  • Too much focus on hobbies and interests. I kid you not, one CV I read a guy wrote "Traveling through India" as a hobby. Well I'm sure it's nice, but please don't list things that make me cringe. In fact this is the best sense check of a CV: is there anything on there that might make you cringe? If yes, delete it. Also talking about some weird extracurricular stuff when you're 5 years post graduation is just out of place.
  • When describing your previous roles, instead of focusing on what your tasks and responsibilities were you talk about "achievements". I want to know what you did regularly most of the time, not something you might have achieved once/momentarily.
  • Trying to describe not so important jobs as more than they really were. Come on, it's so transparent when you're trying to big up something that isn't that special. Saw one CV where a person said they were part of an "elite fundraising team". Running IPOs at Goldman Sachs? Nope. They were walking around town with a collection bucket for some charity.
  • If you've taken a career break this early in your career (early 20s-30) that is longer than a few months, then this is a red flag. Firstly we're looking for career driven people, if you decided to do that at this key stage in your career then you're not that and not a good fit. Secondly you're a millennial, how the hell do you have the money to do this in the first place? Clearly it means that you've got other sources of funding, meaning you could also walk away from our company so easily and we'd rather not have that happen. Did you really feel you needed that 8 months of backpacking through South America after just 4 years of full time work? Not sure you can handle stress that well. I like to travel too, but I fit it in during my holidays and finance it from my salary.

What I do like are CVs that get to the point. No fluff, clearly lay out when you did what. Facts, not BSing about yourself. Those are the ones I give preferential treatment to.

However all this being said, your experience may differ. Everyone looks at things differently, and recruitment is basically a lottery. You never know who's looking at your CV and what they're judging. Just keep applying and I'm sure you'll eventually get something!

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Comments (7)

Feb 8, 2019

This makes you look like you have never searched for a job before. Most people looking to get hired dont have relevant experience so they have to fluff and bs to present themselves in the best light possible. It seems like you are looking to hire someone who is already doing the exact same thing this role offers, why would anyone with the exact same experience want to move to a small firm. Obviously most resumes are going to be from people looking to upgrade and not move laterally. You need a reality check.

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Feb 8, 2019
SSJ_Trunks:

This makes you look like you have never searched for a job before. Most people looking to get hired dont have relevant experience so they have to fluff and bs to present themselves in the best light possible. It seems like you are looking to hire someone who is already doing the exact same thing this role offers, why would anyone with the exact same experience want to move to a small firm. Obviously most resumes are going to be from people looking to upgrade and not move laterally. You need a reality check.

We're hiring for an experienced position, not a graduate. Yes it won't be someone doing the exact same thing elsewhere, but that wasn't the point of my post.

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Feb 8, 2019

His point stands though. Your post amounts to "have better experience to put on your CV." Absent that, everyone is forced to inflate themselves. It's the game we're all expected to play. Since you're hiring for an experienced position, you're supposed to read through the BS. If you were hiring for an entry level, you'd criticize someone for not filling out a whole page.

Feb 8, 2019
HighlyClevered:

His point stands though. Your post amounts to "have better experience to put on your CV." Absent that, everyone is forced to inflate themselves. It's the game we're all expected to play. Since you're hiring for an experienced position, you're supposed to read through the BS. If you were hiring for an entry level, you'd criticize someone for not filling out a whole page.

No it's about not putting BS on your CV, it annoys me, just stick to the cold hard facts. And in this particular situation I'm the person making decisions about who to choose so it matters. Of course in other hiring situations this might not be relevant so it won't matter there.

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Funniest
Feb 8, 2019

Do you spit or swallow after sucking your own dick?

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Most Helpful
Feb 8, 2019

Just when I start hoping (again) that maybe the industry isn't full of stuck up tools, I come across stuff like OP's last bullet point. I truly don't understand why newly minted associates and analysts, especially those from traditional backgrounds, have this giant chip on their shoulder about their jobs and almost a degrading view of those still trying to break in.

As someone else above said, your job is to cut through the bullshit to figure out who is the real deal. This does not mean looking for resumes which conform with your extremely specific worldview. Sure, some of what you said is fair (summaries, fluffy skills), but not much else. Of course people are going to put their achievements down on their resume - it's why every kid looking for a job is told to put down what they contributed to a project, not what their cookie cutter responsibilities are. Ideally their resume gives an idea of the day to day responsibilities as well as the achievements, but if it's just the latter, any halfway decent hiring manager should be able to glean the responsibilities based on the achievements.

But it's your last point which bothers me a lot. On one hand you talk about sticking to cold hard facts, but then promptly jump to a conclusion that a few months gap is a red flag. Maybe it was a medical issue. Maybe it was a personal/family issue (eg. the person had to drop everything to take care of a dying parent). How would you know? You won't hire someone who is not completely indebted the company? What kinda shop are you at? None of this stuff affects a person's ability to do their job.

Give a shot to not having so many preconceived notions of what the ideal candidate should be like. Stick to your own advice and objectively look at the person's capabilities, experience and fit. You might be surprised by who you find.

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Feb 9, 2019