A.A.(RDDL)…. Application advice (rant, do/don’t list)

As you may (or may not!) know I’m a generalist covering off the full spectrum of HR in my current role. As such, recruiting and the trials, tribulations and successes of that have always featured, however they do more so now, than ever.

My company have sailed through a raft of change of late; a new Group Sales Director and new CEO, a number of restructures in various forms and departments, the full acquisition of some major brands to our umbrella and a whole host of technologically advanced product offerings to see us into the ever evolving future. As a result, as well as various change management, communications, culture and engagement pieces around all of this, I am now in the biggest recruitment drive for this department to date. 16 – 20 new staff, of varying skill sets, experience and locations; all required asap.

It’s set me to experimenting with new recruiting avenues, meeting with external recruiters, conducting seemingly endless phone screens, interviews and background/reference checks. There’s a room for a whole other blog post on the wins in this and debate over application methods, but for now I’m focusing on the application; letter and CV in this instance.

I’ll start with the don’ts so I can focus on the positives at the end!


  • Send a 12 page applications including barely relevant information such as magazine articles, I have hundreds of CV’s to get through and simply haven’t got time to read through all of that.
  • Use a different name on your cover letter, CV and email note – it’s very confusing!
  • Use font so big you only get six lines on a page. Or use current abbreviations of language or slang. 
  • Use so many graphics on the background of your CV that I can’t read the information contained in it. No matter how cool you think skateboarding or cupcakes are, it won’t help you get hired.
  • Use an email address that makes me suspicious or wary of your character; ilovemileycyrus@gmail.com or cannabis@hotmail.com  – ok they’re made up, but not far from some of the addresses I’ve seen of late.
  • Include links to your social media if they contain anything you wouldn’t want your Nana to know. I don’t want to know either and it could sway my decision.

On to the Do’s!

  • Send me a brief, succinct overview of your experience and achievements (CV), and an explanation of what drew you to apply and how your skill set is a match, and/or your career goals again, be concise (letter). Two pages max for the CV and no more than a page for the letter.
  • Include graphics and/or examples of work IF they’re relevant to the role – this is especially helpful if it is a creative role on offer.
  • Be different. Get my attention by trying something new – but it still has to make sense. I recently received a fantastic infographic application– it was informative and professional. Unfortunately the person wasn’t right for the role – but they got a call from me and a referral to another role that they were much better suited for and we all lived happily ever after.
  • Have a LinkedIn profile. If you’re serious about looking for a new role, and professional in your approach most people will be happy to connect with you.
  • Send me your details even if the roles advertised aren’t perfect for you. I do read all CV’s so as long as you follow the Do’s and Don’ts here and you’ve got something I’m looking for now or potentially in the future, I will make contact. To be fair even if you don’t I’ll give you the politeness of a reply. 
  • Be professional. Showcase yourself – your successes and standouts.
  • Include links to blogs you are proud of that relate to the role in some way. If you’ve got me on the first points I’ll be curious enough to take a look and they just might be your selling point.

The best CV’s I’ve seen of late have been short, sharp and told a great story. They flowed through the relevant information in a succinct manner using a regular font (type and size). Essentially they made it easy for me to pull together a picture of the person’s skills and experience in a matter of a minute, sometimes less. There were no obstacles in my path to knowing why I should call them. So if you’re in the job market have a think about the above. If you’re new to applying (or not!) ask someone else to critique you, preferably someone who will be honest and give you sound feedback, better still, someone who employs people. And if you can’t find that there are plenty of careers advice centres who will be only too happy to help.

And if you get a rejection letter from a recruiter, be brave and bold enough to ask why you didn’t make the cut. You’ll probably learn a lot from this – I know from experience! I speak for myself here, but if asked for feedback I will always give it – however, I won’t offer it without the ask as I don’t want to offend.

I look forward to some spectacularly simple yet gripping CV’s from here on in….next stop the phone screen and interview!