Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley on CV Design

Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley is an experienced recruitment and human resources practitioner. He estimates that he has looked at tens of thousands of curricula vitae during his very long career as a recruiter. In a job market that is getting even more competitive by the day, he cites the need for applicants to submit CVs that stand out – not only in terms of content, but also in terms of presentation. Today, Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley discusses how to balance creativity and content to produce a CV that will make any recruiter take a second look.

Employers nowadays tend to look for people who will not just do their jobs well, but also do their jobs in the most creative way possible. Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley believes that creativity is the spark that drives process improvement, product design, and revenue, and it separates those who are constantly looking for new ways to do things from those who are all about the money. The creative process is one of passion – passion for the job, passion for the industry, and passion for self-improvement. For Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley, it’s a trait that spells the difference between merely succeeding and totally dominating in one’s industry.

In the field of recruitment, getting this kind of candidate starts with sifting through CVs.
Nowadays, a two-page resume containing the basic stuff – education, skills, experience – is not enough. As a recruiter, I have to admit that looking at the same templated CVs can get boring and tedious. This is partly why I consider creativity one of my criteria when deciding which candidate to call first.

Let me assure you first that “creative” doesn’t necessarily mean “pretty”. To be honest, I find CVs that are huge on design but short on content to be a complete waste of time. However, a well-designed resume will at least attract my attention. Personally, I attribute that to looking at websites such as LinkedIn all day. LinkedIn is a good example of design thinking at work – it is straightforward, but at the same time, it grabs my attention and demands that I read what it has to say.

One of the best-designed CVs I’ve ever seen was submitted by a candidate whose partner was into graphic design. It had just one page, but it contained a lot of information on the man’s skill levels. Instead of indicating that her Microsoft Excel skills were “very good”, he presented his skills in graph form. This made it a lot easier to digest the “skills” section and allowed me to proceed to her experience with a clearer idea of what he was able to bring to her previous workplaces.

Presenting his skills in chart form also allowed him to list her experience more extensively without making his CV feel cramped or crowded. Thus, I could get a good idea of her previous work experience and gave me a reason to pass her on to the hiring manager. She was eventually hired and became a top contributor to her team and company.

Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley writes regularly about recruitment topics. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below.


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