The 3 people that can make or break your job application

By Steve Lord in careers | December 28, 2014

It may surprise you but there's only three types of people that read your CV other than yourself. If you can tailor your CV for thse people, it could make or break your job application.

The 3 people that can make or break your job application

The Recruiter

Sleazy salesman

The recruiter is the first person that sees your CV or job application. This could be an internal HR manager or it could be an actual professional recruiter. The recruiter is normally (but not always) non-technical, and their goal is to weed out the obvious no hires usually by looking for keywords supplied with the job description and red flags that could be anything from your recent 6 month training holiday in Syria to a long-forgotten college MySpace profile extolling the virtues of various illegal substances. For the recruiter, their goal is to conduct a basic triage operation and the quality of their work is all that stands between you and the no pile. Terrifying, isn’t it?

The Hiring Manager

Hiring manager

This person is usually more (but not always fully) technical. This is often the person that wants the role filled and may even be your future line manager. Depending on the quality of the job done by the recruiter or HR staff, the hiring manager may or may not have a small or large pile of job applications to wade through. They’re usually the one that wrote the job description, often without feeling they needed one but might have conflicting ideas about what they’re looking for. For most roles they want to know that you have roughly the right level of experience and/or qualifications for the job, that you’re going to be easy to manage and that there aren’t any serious problems with you. Sometimes the hiring manager will skim your CV or resumé at this stage, sometimes they won’t have time to even do that. Ultimately, the question they want to ask is whether or not you’re worth talking to, either on the phone or in-person.

The Supporting Interviewer(s)

Businessman eating

These people are normally only brought in at the interview stage and will almost certainly have never seen your job application, CV or resumé until the interview, at which point they’ll desperately scan it for things to talk to you about. Supporting people are brought in to measure you technically and more importantly to see if you fit within the organisation’s culture. If they’re going to be in the same team as you then they’ll probably be a little stressed and overworked due to a high workload, so making sure they can easily see evidence that you’ve either done or demonstrated knowledge relevant to the job is important.

Incidentally, none of these people want to read your CV. They only look at it because they have to. So if they don’t want to read your CV, how do you get to the yes pile quickest? You make your CV easy to scan, easy to find the things they’re looking for and keep it as short as possible. How do you do that? A good place to start is my free 30 day online email course on career hacking for penetration testers. As well as talking about the 3 types of people who read your CV I also talk about my 3 best CV hacks, walk you through the process of applying for and getting a job, including a series on hacking phone and in-person interviews and wrap up with some practical help on how to find out what you’re worth and how to weigh up a job offer. It’s packed with tips on how to hack your career. It’s written with penetration testers in mind, but if your only thoughts of jobs involving penetration are less than pure then the broader career advice is just as relevant. Sign up using the form below.

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