Saturday, January 17, 2009

I went through 19 CVs this week.

Image courtesy of Fiona Rae

I went through 19 CVs one night this week.

In search of somebody that loves advertising, has some experience in it and is willing to work hard. Could I tell from the CVs? Nope. Not one had a blog or a link to a portfolio or previous campaigns either.

I couldn't help but wonder how individuals with marketing backgrounds, working in the field of communication, do not sell themselves better.

The CVs were mostly full of stuffy language and clich├ęs. "Maximise this. Productivity that. Works well in groups. But also independently". This is from folks pursuing careers in persuasive communication.

How refreshing would it be to get a CV that starts with "I will work into the long dark lonely hours of the night to make sure my advertising campaign is something W+K, Crispin Porter, Alex W. White and David Ogilvy would all be proud of"?

This one sentence tells me a lot...You love advertising. There is a good chance you know the basics. You understand that advertising needs to sell. And you are ready to take on the necessary long hours. That would be enough to get an interview.

If you're good, don't hide.


Kevin Dunne said...

Hi Paul, I think the reason you mightn't have seen CVs saying something like that is because people generally don't think they can. This is an assumption I'm making so I may be wrong. But it wasn't too long ago when I was in this position.

People feel they have to confirm to a certain way and doing anything different will harm their chances.

If I was applying for this type of job, what I'd like to do is give my name and blog address. Whoever is hiring for the job, eg the HR dept, can then see examples of my work and also how I think.

But would I feel comfortable doing this? If I'm honest, probably not.

I think there are other people involved in the hiring process that have to come around to this way of thinking. For now though, I think you're going to keep seeing conforming sheep who follow the crowd.

Paul Dervan said...

thanks Kevin. I'd like to believe you would take a risk.

I'm talking about your "strategy" to getting a job. And strategy is about doing different things or doing things in a different way to your competitors.

If paper CVs written in corporate speak is the norm, it doesn't take much to stand out. And as you know only too well Kevin, getting noticed is the first step towards consideration.

Kev - don't go taking my advice any time in the next 3-5 years:)

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Kevin.
I'd be scared that including a blog link on a CV would make the employer:
1) Think I'd spend all day blogging
2) Read my blog back through the archives, find one thing he/she disagrees with and refuse to hire me on that basis
3) Think I'm some kind of wierdo for having a blog, 'cause they don't understand how communications works.

I'm an ex-PR person, by the way, who works in politics now.

Anonymous said...

I assume every CV has an e-mail address and phone number.
If the e-mail address on the CV is or similar, they probably have a blog or site are are being subtle.

In the same way, see if they have a link to their blog on a social network site like LinkedIn or Twitter. (yup, think of it as a reference search using a search engine).

Or contact the candidates and ask for their blog.

I do know that I wouldn't include my blog in a CV. I may include a link to my LinkedIn profile (and there is a link in there to my blog) in the cover letter if the job spec mentions social media.

Since its not the norm (yet) I doubt you'll see a CV with a blog link, or portfolio details unless you explicitly ask for it.

Did you? If you did then your 19 candidates can't read.

However if they read your blog, I can see a phone call or e-mail coming along soon.

The Sexy Pedestrian said...

I'd have thought, given the jobs scramble, candidates would be getting seriously creative with their CVs. I'm actually really frustrated that not one in 19 CVs was worth following up. Christ, especially in marketing. I mean, what the hell is to set you apart if you "enjoy socialising with friends" and you're "punctual and trustworthy".

For crap sake Kevin "would I feel comfortable" Dunne, and "I'd be scared" Keith.

Job applicants have nothing to lose but a potential interview and a rare opportunity.

Live a little!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Paul - I think as a few previous people have said though there is a sense that some employers would not welcome this kind of information. I guess though if the candidate did their homework and found your blog they would know you would welcome this creativity...

Paul Dervan said...

@ Sexy Pedestrian, I should clarify that a few of them were worth following up with, just nobody really sold or 'marketed' themselves very well.

@ Will - I didn't ask for either. I didn't ask for a paper CV either though. I asked people to apply. But point taken.

@ Keith - I probably would read back through archives to see how they think. But I wouldn't refuse to hire just because they disagree with my views. If anything, the fact that they can think and express an opinion is a good start.

@ Vicky - your point is very valid. Know your audience. Marketing in Ireland is a small industry. It would take only a few phone calls and a bit of searching to find out more about the people that are hiring.

thanks all.

Damien Mulley said...

My company is neither Marketing nor PR but I will only hire via the blog or Twitter of someone.

Kevin and Keith's comments astound me. Lads, have you given up on freedom and liberty? Conforming, fear? HR Departments!

A HR department should only be used when you want advice on how to run the best team you can. If they're filtering for any kind of job other than a job in HR then you are letting people with no expertise in Marketing try and find someone "ideal" where ideal to them is a series of check boxes. HR Departments work well in armies but in in a place for creativity and lateral thinking?

But then I have strong feelings on this and this is why I work for myself (and why I'd never get past a HR department shield)

Unknown said...

One of the best examples I've seen of someone stepping outside the box when it came to applying for a job was a case study on copywriter Robert Hayes McCoy's site.

Just an imaginative letter, no CV, and a call for interview less than 24 hours later.

When you're hiring you're looking for something that makes a candidate stand out, something that tells you they have that spark of imagination and energy that will make them shine.

Yes, background and experience is important -- but conforming to convention, particularly at the moment, simply isn't going to get you noticed.

Stepping outside the conventional recruitment box and trying something a bit different may be a bit of a risk in some professions, but for a marketer showing a bit of flair and originality has to be a positive thing, right?

Anonymous said...

Im not surprised Paul that none linked to a blog, disappointed though. Or at least have done something imaginative to get your attention, something. I think we spoke about the guy who did his CV up as a presentation (slicker than powerpoint) I actually think it was Damiens site. He told his story about where he was coming from and where he wanted to go with pictures. Its great, I would have hired him, creative, imaginative and memorable.

No doubt you will grill them over the lack of blogs etc...when you get the chance!

Anonymous said...

I really think the tide is starting to change on this. One I have been impressed by is Thomas Brunkard whose blog is really designed to get him a job in PR but its gives you a more rounded version of the person that a CV does not. I think a lot of people are probably more afraid of you searching for them online and finding photos of drunken nights out as a student!

Anonymous said...

I made a poll on CreativeIreland, a forum riddled with design people in Ireland... and alot of job seekers.

Curious if I get a response, then curious about the results.