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!