It's all about you – but remember, when it comes to effective CVs and applications, it's what potential employers want to see that counts
When a busy manager receives hundreds of applications for a single position on their staff, very quickly they're going to become good at telling at a glance if the person is worth their consideration. So when you send your CV, there are some key points to bear in mind.
Jason Phillips, General Manager of Franco's in London, has seen a lot of CVs and discarded a substantial number. "What I'm looking for is something very concise, one page and only showing relevant information. I don't want to know if they won a football cup aged 11," he says.
Phillips doesn't rate the personal overview section because he sees it as licence for people to write whatever they want and advises hopeful employees to carefully consider anything they are going to include.
"I want to see their last four or so jobs and experience in similarstyle establishments. Jumping from Caffè Nero to a Michelin star to Starbucks tells me they're bouncing around and don't know what they want," he explains. "You should show progression through service style and an understanding of the market by selecting the sort of establishment that's right for you."
Anna Wawrzyniak, Human Resources Manager at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, sees as many as 150 CVs a day. The first thing she looks for is relevant experience with the most recent at the top.
"A lot of people think the more jobs they list, the better their experience will appear but that's not the case," she says. "We look for a couple of jobs in similar establishments and ideally like to see one or two listed for the past couple of years, which shows the applicant is looking to make a more long-term commitment."
Wawrzyniak argues that two pages is the maximum length, while the covering letter should be short and to the point as the recruiter doesn't have time for anything lengthier. She also advises applicants to personalise each application rather than have one generic one.
"In the personal statement section, I like to see something relevant to the role being applied for. If it comes via email, it should be addressed to the recruiter by name, stating the job applied for, with a full name and address at the bottom, with any necessary documents attached."
Write your application with the target company in mind, not least because CVs sent out in bulk can be spotted a mile off. Sarah Steven, Head of Recruitment Coordination at Wagamama, sifts through applications daily, looking for a little personality. Once you've got the basics of length, spelling, grammar and work history right, she wants to see more about the applicant.
"Although it does come down to experience, we want someone with a bit individuality. Everybody writes that they can work well as part of a team or as an individual – I read that 25 times a day and I'm not going to remember them," she warns. It's important to tailor it to the role advertised, find out who you should address your application to and never assume ‘Dear Sir' will cover it. Stevens doesn't enjoy that particular term directed at her.
"Tell us what you've enjoyed about other roles you've had and why that would help you fit in at Wagamama. And stress personal achievement, especially for management positions – something concrete like ‘I worked at such-and-such and increased revenue'
will stand out."
Tips: Action stations
- The CV should be clear and well spaced.
- Use precise dates and avoid unexplained gaps between jobs.
- Check spelling and grammar thoroughly.
- In the covering letter, pick out a couple of relevant pieces of information, such as a recent promotion, but keep to the point, it shouldn't be that you're into art or play golf.
- Write more than a line of ‘employer, date and role' for previous jobs; include something about the responsibilities you held.
- If you make it as far as an interview, send an email afterwards thanking the interviewer for their time and for meeting you; when they make their decision later it will show you are doing that little bit extra.
- Research the restaurant, the head chef, the cuisine and where the establishment is positioned in the market.
- If you include a photo, be smartly dressed, clean-shaven or with discreet make-up; it can help give a feel for you.