The X Factor CV

As someone involved in recruitment I have noticed a really interesting trend.  I’d be really interested in what other recruiters think to this.

It’s what I call the X factor generation application.  It has got to the point I can pretty much gauge an applicant’s age just by the first sentence or two of their application email.

Maybe not their exact age but certainly in a bracket.  It has come down to pretty much over 35 and under 35.

The over 35 group explain what they have been doing, add in their qualifications and explain how much they would like to work for the institution, and what they feel they can bring to the table.  The under 35 group are a completely different kettle of fish. They give a very short synopsis of their work experience (to be expected as generally they don’t have much experience) and then go on to explain why they are the perfect candidate, what they want and what we can give them for their future career.

Once you look at the CVs again it becomes even clearer.  The over 35s state the facts (pretty much) and one is able to piece together where they might fit in or not in the potential position.  The under 35s ‘big up’ just about every single achievement; they learned excellent people skills and managerial qualities from their position as cash controller (cashier) in their weekend job in X supermarket.  There is usually a headline statement explaining how they are going to rule the company within 3 years (A highly able, confident,, committed and high achieving multi skilled professional who takes pride in his work

Each position they excelled in with 100% success and were feted by their peers and managers alike.

 A confident, committed and high achieving bi-lingual professional, highly esteemed by his peers, who takes pride in his work

Now I understand the market place for jobs is getting more and more competitive. I understand they have been told while at Uni that this is the way to apply for jobs, that you need to highlight the positives and that no shrinking wall flower ever got the job. What I am not sure of, is how many people reading them are actually put off by these X factor ‘Simon I’m amazing, you’d be a fool not to choose me’ style applications. Is it just me? Is it just the over 35 recruiters? Is it a cultural shift that we all have to get used to?

My generation, my culture is that you are modest, you state what you can do, but probably downplay it a little and then everyone is amazed when they see you are in fact an expert. I was taught (probably subliminally) that to boast of being amazing at something would just lead to being shredded by your peers as a show off and was a red flag to warn of setting yourself up for an almighty fall.

I pride myself in seeing the potential behind the modesty in a CV, of reading between the lines. I’m afraid that when I read between the lines of these X factor CVs I see very little substance and someone who is going to need a lot of training and expect to be congratulated just for turning up for the interview.

So, what advice would I give these people, how should they craft their little CVs in order to get their dream job?

  • Possibly find out all you can about the company you are applying to, and if possible all you can about the recruiter – if they are over 40 then be very careful about blowing that almighty trumpet of yours.
  • State your skills exactly as they are, stop exaggerating quite so much.
  • State your experience exactly as it is, stop exaggerating quite so much.
  • State subtly what you can bring to the table and how this will benefit the company.
  • Remember they will be employing you, not you gracing them with your presence.
  • If you don’t have much experience, admit it, but by all means admit that you are hungry for an opportunity

One comment

  1. When you are receiving applications do you notice how similar the structure they are for the under 35’s, I put this down to the standard forms and advice available on the Web, the over 35, are more used to deciding things for themselves without kowtowing to that fount of all knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

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