During my career in event recruitment, I’ve read through thousands of CVs and cover letters. Some have been fantastic and some not so fantastic. But what about those that sit in-between fantastic and not so fantastic? How can you stand out from the crowd when the crowd is so big?
Recently, I spoke with some experienced hiring managers from the sector and they’ve given me some great tips and advice on applying for roles. They are from a mix of corporate organisations and agencies, but their feedback tended to follow the same lines.
Attention to Detail:
The most critical part of any role in events is this. Most people list this as a skill / attribute (as you should), but, if you then spot mistakes in either grammar or spelling further down this can kill an application instantly … As one hiring manager put it “don’t say that you have good attention to detail if your CV has typos. These CVs go straight in the bin”.
Generic Won’t Cut It:
Everyone that I spoke with emphasised the importance of sculpting your cover letter and CV to reflect the job ad. As one senior operations director stated “CVs need to be tailored to each JD and so does the covering email so [it] can’t be a copy and paste situation – it takes time but would look at applying qualitatively rather than quantitatively.”
One talent expert told me that she only reads cover letters “if it looks like it has been written specifically for the role. If [candidates] are doing a covering letter, they need to use this wisely. Tell us why you are interested in our business and why you are right for the role on a human level. A generic covering letter can actually be detrimental as it shows a lack of interest.”
Take time looking through their website, social media channels and any news / content on them. What are their values? How do they position their offering? Do you have synergies with them that you can talk about?
Be A Storyteller:
Being in the event sector requires great people and communication skills. Your cover letter is your chance to stand apart and to establish yourself as the perfect candidate.
As one senior hiring manager told me a strong cover letter “demonstrates that you have thought about the business and its culture so I would recommend crafting an awesome cover letter per application. Stand out. It may well be the best differentiator.”
Another stated “You are awesome. The people who have not met you and that you need to convince to give you your dream job just don’t know it yet. Write your CV with this in mind, draft your cover letter knowing this to be true and be positive. You will get more knock backs than positive responses, BUT politely ask for feedback and learn from it. Say thanks when you get it and use it as power to fuel you.”
So yes, it can be time consuming but taking the time to personalise your approach to the employer will pay off in the long run.
Be Socially Aware:
Every single one of our hiring experts all mentioned the need for a strong LinkedIn profile and to be aware of your social media footprint. They are so important. Potential employers do want to know all about your passions and personality but you need to be balanced. Two of our hiring managers told me that you should consider making your Facebook & Instagram profiles private.
One stated ‘I would ensure the likes of Instagram and Facebook are private, I don’t check those accounts but I know some employers do. I would be careful about what you put out there as you can never get it back”.
Another stated“[Social profiles] are very important. I haven’t taken people to interview because of their social media channels. I am not saying that they have to be professional, it is great to see the personality come through. What isn’t great is moaning, argumentative opinionated people who look drunk in every photo.”
And to continue on this theme another added “LinkedIn is key! Keep it up to date, keep it professional. You may look bronzed, beautiful and a really fun person by adding a LinkedIn picture of you on the beach with a cocktail however, keep that for your Facebook page. It’s not that we don’t want to see you having fun but what you’re saying is ‘I can’t differentiate my work profile from my personal profile’ – how will you manage clients and internal colleague situations?”
So be careful and review your social footprint!
A lot of hiring managers spoke about the need to stand out from the crowd and to be authentically you . One professional mentioned that “CV’s are formulaic for a reason as they have to deliver your content, but you can still have some fun with them if it ‘reflects you’. If you are ‘serious’ reflect yourself in your CV, but if you are colourful, don’t be afraid to share you in your CV – that’s who you are and if you are recruited based on a false view of who you are, you will likely hate your job as you will have sold in the person you think they want you to be – that does not work”.
The advice to stand out continued with one senior professional adding “Bring your individuality to the cover letter. A one liner that connects you to the company ‘strapline’, that connects you to the culture, that connects your ability to be flexible, that connects you to your ability to learn new skills…”
If you are creative why not consider a show reel or putting together a portfolio of your work. As one hiring manager told us, “If you are applying for a creative role, also consider how your CV looks. A word doc for a creative will not stand out if others have taken a different approach.”
Having supporting documents that are colourful and more visual will work wonders in helping you stand out from the crowd.
Beat The Bot
When applying for some roles (normally at large corporate organisations) you will need to upload your CV via a portal or ATS (applicant tracking system). In most cases 75% of CVs are rejected before they are even seen by a hiring manager. One of our hiring managers at a global company offered this advice “Tailor to key words that will tick the boxes of the review. Understand the company culture and repeat that back really positively and tailor your CV and application…”
Try and think of it as the same way you look for things via a search engine. You use specific keywords to find what you are looking for. Follow a similar approach with your CV, identify the keywords in the job description and make sure these repeat in your own CV.
Hopefully this helps you craft that successful application, but, if you find yourself struggling with this stage, you can lean on us. Drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can book some time in to go through any questions you may have …
Good luck out there!