The term ‘CV’ is an abbreviation for ‘curriculum vitae’ which in Latin roughly means ‘the course of my life’. The function of a CV is to serve as a self-marketing tool in an individuals search for a job. It could be argued that the way in which a CV communicates the suitability of a job candidate is through the effective use of Impression Management. IM refers to the tactics people use in order to elicit a desired impression from an audience, these tactics can be said to be either conscious or unconscious (Schlenker, 1980, p.
). As part of the Professional Development module, this assignment will be focused on the analysis and evaluation of two fictitious and competing CV’s and their accompanying cover letters. I will critically evaluate not only the appropriate skills both these applicants possess but also the suitability and effectiveness of their CV’s.
The CV’s belong to Harvinda Patil and James Davis who are both applying for a placement position within the Psychology Department at Goldsmith, University of London.I will be analysing the two CV’s through the eyes of their potential employer and making a decision as to who would be the more suitable candidate for the job. Both candidates submitted a covering letter in order to introduce their CV’s.
Unlike a CV, cover letters should be addressed directly to the employer who is being contacted. It should avoid going over the same points that are on the CV but instead it should relate these points to the specific job (Giang, 2012; cited from Business Insider, 2012).In Harvinda Patil’s cover letter she describes her working roles and the skills she has gained from them, but in some cases she fails to link this back to the job she is applying for. For example, Harvinda talks about how she is a research apprentice for a PhD student. She then goes on to describe how this has developed her research skills and provided her with the opportunity to put her knowledge from her studies into direct practice.
While this is relevant for the position she is applying for, she fails to directly associate this with how it would help her within this specific position.In order to improve this point she could have gone on to say how this would benefit her with the collaborative research the successful candidate would be expected to conduct alongside King’s College of London and the University of Oxford. Harvinda does go on to relate some of her work to the placement, however she simply states that her work has provided her with experience that is relevant to the placement, and does not go into details such as how and why. In comparison to Harvinda’s covering letter I feel that James has related his experiences to the position he is applying for in an appropriate and effective manner.In addition to the content of the cover letter, I also find James’ cover letter easier to read.
Harvinda’s cover letter is long and contains grammatical errors aswell as unnecessary details such as the specific details of what she does within the Surrey Marrow charity. The point she is trying to convey is that she is competent in handling participants and their data, and that is relevant for psychological research. I feel that she could have put this across in a more concise manner that divulges the reader to the same necessary information whilst sparing them the unnecessary specifics.The grammatical errors also suggests that she has not proof read her work, giving off the impression that she is perhaps careless. This relates directly to the theory of Impression Management that suggests we are in control of what we allow others to see of ourselves, directly impacting the impression they form of us (Jones & Pittman, 1982) A study conducted by The Ladders recruitment group found that CV’s that appeared more professionally written (were clearer, more precise and contained only relevant information), achieved a greater score on a Likert scale of 5. out of 7 for ‘usability’ compared to less proffesionally written CV’s which received a score of 4 out of 7. Though this research relates to CV’s rather than cover letters, it is clear that a main component when deciding whether a candidate is suitable for the job is the way in which their information is presented. Lastly, both candidates finish off their cover letters with a ‘call to action’ sentence enticing the employer to get in contact with them (Innes, 2009), for example James’ writes ‘I very much look forward to hearing from you’.
In summary, I find James’ cover letter to be the better of the two, and as an employer would sway me more towards hiring him. He relates his experiences to the job well, and does this using a clear and concise bullet pointing method whilst Harvinda’s descriptions could be seen as too meaty and her letter lacks good structure and relevance. After reading the cover letters I moved on to examining the CV’s. I immediately noticed that both candidates have used a clear and structured format. The segregation of relevant information into clearly titled categories makes it easier to find items of interest to the employer.This is supported by the findings of an eye-tracking study conducted by The Ladder recruitment group (The Ladders, 2012, cited from The Ladders Blog, 2012). Over ten weeks a group of thirty employers were asked to review ficticious CV’s and decide whether the candidates would be suitable for a ficticious position within their firm.
They were also asked to score CV’s on several categories using a Likert Scale. Whilst they were reviewing the CV’s their eye movements were monitored by eye tracking devices, enabling the researchers to uncover how long employers spend reading CV’s and which parts they are more interested in.The study produced many findings, but importantly it found that employers spend an average of only six seconds reveiwing a CV before they determine whether the candidate is suitable, in comparison to previous suggestions by Innes who alternatively suggest employers take approximately 30 seconds to read a CV (Innes, 2009).
Within this short amount of time the employer spends approximately 80% of their time looking at the name and age of a candidate, followed by their work experience (however just the companies and times they were there for rather than the roles and responsibilities), and lastly their education.It was then reported that following this the employers briefly skim through the rest of the information looking for ‘keywords’ that suggest suitability for the role being advertised (The Ladders, 2012). From reviewing this research the layout and clarity of a CV becomes evidently important- employers must be able to quickly find the relevant information.
The use of bullet pointing information within a CV is an effective way of ensuring this.Both James and Harvinda do this effectively, however James’ goes into unnecessary amounts of detail regarding his specific grades for his first year University modules, which I would improve upon by bullet pointing the overall grade and then the core components of that module. One key difference between Harvinda and James is that in Harvinda’s CV she makes it very clear in her ‘Career Aims’ section what she wants to do after her degree. As an employee that would make her a safer option, as she has clear ambitions that are relevant for the position and perhaps she would value it more because of this.On the other hand, James seems to be unsure about his future. He states that he aims to achieve a first class degree and go on to do a Masters degree and a PhD as well as that ‘developing his knowledge of a specific area of psychology’ through his placement but it is clear that he is not sure which area he is most interested in. As an employer this is quite concerning as it is possible that he will start the job only to realise it is not for him and not fulfill the potential that the placement has to offer to the right candidate.This increases the sense that Harvinda would benefit more from the placement and that from a moral perspective it would be the right thing to do to hire her.
However, after reveiwing the education of both candidates James emerges as the most desirable candidate again due to his impeccable academic track record. Both of them are clearly high academic achievers who both have relevant qualifications (Psychology A-Levels, Maths GCSE’s etc. ) but it is James’ First in his first year at University and his individual module scores that are really impressive.
This is also reflected in their employment history.Both candidates have listed jobs in which they worked as part of a team, this is attractive experience in the eyes of an employer as working well within a team is a transferable skill which is vital for research work. A study by Linzi Kemp (2006) found that online experience of team work in students improved team work in the workplace. Though this is experience was gained online rather than through work experience, it is still relevant in it’s suggestion that experience of team work improves your ability to work with others in the workplace later on in life (Kemp 2006).Both candidates achieved a position of responsibility throughout their previous jobs which suggests they are reliable and hard working people. I find James’ work for the St Johns Ambulance team to be more relevant to the position than Harvinda’s experience at Burger King as the fast food industry is completely different to Clinical Psychology. In comparison to this, at St Johns Ambulance James gained experience in relevant areas of work such as professionally liasing with other colleagues and memebers of the public, organising training for other members of the team and generally working in a field that is more relevant to the open position.
Additionally, as research from The Ladder study suggests, employers spend a large proportion of time checking the dates that a person worked for a company rather than their responsibilities within the organisation. This suggests that employers find it attractive when a candidate is able to show that they remained within a company for a long time in comparison with someone who was there for a short amount of time as this suggests unemployability or temperamentality. This is also the case with gaps in employment.Relating this back to the rival candidates, James appears to be the more suitable of the two as he demonstrates stability within his work experience (he remains working for St Johns Ambulance which he started in 2009) in comparison to Harvinda who worked for Burger King over a fairly long period of time (almost 2 and a half years) but who then terminated her employment with the company and did not enter into another paid position. It would have been beneficial to Harvinda to have stated why she left the company and why she has not found another job since.There may be genuinely acceptable reasons behind this but as she has not made this clear it leaves the employer in a position to speculate and cast doubt on her suitability. Both candidates also have voluntary work experience. Harvinda lists a total of five voluntary positions which she has held.
All of her positions add value to her application as she demonstrates experience across various aspects of Psychology such as working with children with learning disabilities to recruiting participants and running experiments outside of the guidance that the typical student would gain from their Psychology degree.James has also partaken in voluntary work, however in comparison to Harvinda’s the positions are less relevant to the placement position, for example James had two weeks work experience in an IT department. This work experience has little to do with Psychology and the skills he gained from it are not unique from the skills he gained through his paid work, and therefore could have been left off of the CV. His voluntary experience working on a website is important even though it is in a completely different field from Psychology.
This is because, similarly to his paid employment, it demonstrates his stability as an employee as he has been with the organisation since 2009. He also mentions that he was promoted twice and has achieved a role of supervision. By mentioning his high-status within the organisation James is eliciting impressions of competency- this is supported by the work of Troyer and Younts who found that high-status employees were perceived to be more competent than low-status employees (Troyer ; Younts, 1997).This impression of competency could have been elevated further if he had mentioned the organisation he was volunteering for, as it would have added reliability to his testimony. In summary of voluary positions I find Harvinda and James to both be impressive and suitable candidates, but James’ ability to remain loyal to an organisation and work his way up Lastly, it is interesting and informative for employers to be aware of potential employees interests outside of their academic and working careers.By mentioning these on a CV it provides the employer with an in-sight to their personality and sociability as these tend to correlate with a persons ability to work collaberatively with other collegues.
Journalist for business website ‘Entrepeneur’ Jane Porter reports that there are three types of personality that can be destructive within a company. She suggests these to be narcissists, social loafers and hyper-emotional employees (Jane Porter, 2012, cited from Entrepeneur, 2012). It is therefore important to make sure that as an employee you do not demonstrate traits that may reflect these negative personalities.This can be done by appearing active and choosing to engage in leisure activities as part of a group. James does this by mentioning that he enjoys playing sports with friends and was a member of a climbing club and therefore promotes himself as a social being. On the other hand, Harvinda mentions taking part in charity walks which reflect her good morals although her accounts appear to be egocentric as she does not mention any one other than herself and what she personally gained from the experience.
Whilst this boasts her ability to work independently it also inadvertently portrays her as a solitary individual which would not work well within the Psychology department at Goldsmiths. In conclusion, both applicants would have been suitable for the job though ultimately I would have offered it to James. This is for a number of reasons. Both applicants provide a clear and sound format in their CV’s, however in places they both offer information that is in an unnecessary amount of detail.Harvinda has a far better idea of where she is heading in terms of her career making her a safer option, while James is still unsure, however James seems more competent out of the two when reveiwing his academic achievements and his work experience. Harvinda holds more relevant voluntary work positions but on the other hand James’ work ethics and style seems to be more stable and really demonstrate his hard work and dedication to an organisation. He is clearly an ambitious character and a team player, which his CV supports in every aspect from his education to personal interests.This assessment has helped me in many ways with my own cover letters and CV’s.
Before writing this I lacked confidence particularly when it came to writing cover letters as I didn’t know what to include. From this experience I have learnt not to repeat what is said in the CV but to specifically relate my experiences to the job at hand and stress how I could benefit from the position. I have also discovered that my CV needs modifying as it contains unnecessary details about work experience that isn’t relevant.An unexpected outcome of this essay is that I’ve decided to re-write my ‘personal interests’ section of my CV as I found this to be extremely influential when reveiwing the ficticious applications. Previously I had considered my education and work experience to be the vital components behind securing a job but now I’m of the opinion that personal interests that reflect the positive attributes of my personality play an important role in this and I will edit my CV to accomodate this.ReferencesGiang, V.
(2012). 7 Steps To Writing A Cover Letter That Will Actually Get You An Interview. Retrieved on 5 November, 2012, from http://articles.
businessinsider.com/2012-02-18/news/31074218_1_letter-job-listing-jobfox). Innes, J.
(2009). Brilliant Cover Letters. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Jones, E. E., ; Pittman. T. S. (1982). Toward a general theory of strategic self- presentation. In J.
Suls (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on the self (pp.231- 262). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Kemp, L.
J. (2006). Learning about Teamwork in an Online Study Environment. MERLOT Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, 2, 30-41. The Ladders, (2012).
Keeping an eye on recruiter behaviour. Retrieved on Novemeber 5, 2012, from http://blog.theladders.
com/ux/you-only-get-6-seconds-of-fame-make-it-count/. Porter, J. (2012).
3 Personality Types That Can Harm Your Business. Retrieved on 5 November, 2012, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224046. Rynes, S., ; Gerhart, B. (1990).
Interviewer assessments of applicant “fit”: An exploratory investigation. Personnel Psychology, 43, 13-35. Schlenker, B. R. (1980). Impression management: The self-concept, social identity, and interpersonal relations.
Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. Troyer, Lisa, and C. Wesley Younts. (1997). Whose Expectations Matter? The Relative Power of First- and Second-Order Expectations in Determining Social Influence.
American Journal of Sociology, 103, 692-732.