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5 mistakes HR people make when writing their own CV

HR may know how to decipher a candidate’s CV, but need a little guidance when it comes to writing their own.

How often have you read an HR CV and thought to yourself: “they should know better”? Many of the HR leaders I work with are frustrated by the poor standard of applications they receive from fellow HR people. Simple errors, missing vital information and untargeted efforts are among the most common complaints I hear.

Like any candidate, your CV is a sales document. Its purpose is to compel the prospective employer to further explore your suitability for the role and organisation.  The fundamental mistake that I observe HR people making in applications is the failure to demonstrate the depth of their professional capabilities.

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 your potential to perform. To win the confidence of prospective employers, avoid making these 5 common mistakes:

1. 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.

2. 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 due to the position you held can create doubts in an employer’s mind. The last thing you want is for the employer to be left confused or doubtful about your honesty.

3. 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 in which you were operating at the time.

While your job description may well be a good place to start 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’re applying for.

4. Lack of effort

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 show sincere interest in the role by speaking directly to the people you are looking to influence.  Demonstrate that you have invested time and energy learning about their business.

5. Irrelevant referees

While in some circumstances it’s 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.

The best HR CVs are those that demonstrate understanding of the organisation’s people objectives and how you can help to achieve them. The more you understand about the organisation’s vision, strategy, culture and capabilities, the more you 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.

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