By Lucie Sáblíková | 1.7.2022

Behind the scenes of HR: Motivation is often more important than experience

Culture – 6 min read

Generic CVs, spelling mistakes, and lack of preparation for the interview. These are just some of the blemishes that can ruin your chances with a new employer, according to Any—a team leader of the talent acquisition team at Applifting. But how do you shine in an interview and stand out among other candidates? Find out the details and practical advice from Any in the interview.

On average, how many resumes do you go through in a month? 

There are three of us who handle recruitment at Applifting, and on average, we each manage to go through about 100 CVs a month. But every month is different. There are times when we get more applicants all at once, especially after community events—which we organize almost every month—or student events like the iKariéra or COFIT job fairs. For example, based on last November's backend meetup, we had two people join us this year. 

What do you look for in a CV?

For both the CV and the cover letter, the first thing I'm interested in is the candidate's motivation for applying for the position. Only then do I look at hard skills and past jobs. They are important but not always crucial for us at Applifting. We have very good experience working with juniors, who we are able to work with and guide thanks to our mentoring and training system.

Do you see any shortcomings in the CVs? If so, what are they?

Oftentimes, CVs are so creative that they become cluttered. Personally, I recommend not sending out one identical CV for all positions, it’s better to go through the trouble of tailoring it to the specific job advert. After all, we recruiters can tell pretty easily when a person sends the same generic resume and cover letter to everyone, and it'd be a shame if a lack of effort blew your one chance.

What would you recommend to candidates when creating a CV? What should they focus on? 

I know I’m repeating myself, but it's really important to mention the motivation, why you’re doing the job, and why you want to work in that particular technology. I also recommend to be clear and to highlight important information in bullet points so that they don’t get lost anywhere. One of the most common pitfalls is a long-winded paragraph detailing what the candidate’s current company does. However, this is rarely important to a prospective employer. What matters more is the role and personality of the candidate.

How important is a cover letter?

It is always very important. There are even cases where it is more relevant to us than the CV itself, which is good news for trainees and juniors who don't have much previous experience. The reasons why candidates want to work at Applifting and what they have found out about us are always crucial to us.

It's great if they also mention their personal characteristics, interests, or student jobs. Involvement in various school clubs and participation in school/sports teams are also good; it tells us that the person is a team player.

Is there anything that's guaranteed to put you off? Whether in a cover letter, CV, or overall application.

When it comes to text written in Czech, we are discouraged by grammatical mistakes and illiterate language. And when developers attribute success to themselves, even though most of them work in a team, for instance. Or when they speak ill of their current team and employer.

On the other hand, what do you find impressive?

The candidate's readiness for the interview. I like it when they have questions prepared and are curious. It lets us know that he or she has learned something about Applifting, and the conversation flows better. We are also happy to hear feedback on any of our blog articles or media appearances. It is easy to tell from all this that the candidate cares about the environment he or she will be working in. At Applifting, we act as one big team and have clearly defined values. It's then a pleasure to find a candidate who aligns with them.

What should candidates avoid when sending their application?

It does not work well if they use a generic title to address us, such as 'respected hiring manager', because the recruiter's name is listed for each position, and it works better if candidates address the recruiter by name. 

Also, it is better not to apply for multiple positions in the same company; or if they do, they should explain it somehow. Otherwise, it looks like they are sending out resumes willy-nilly. In general, I would advise against anything that, at first glance, suggests that they don't care much about their future employer.

When writing a CV, what advice would you give to people with little work experience?

It's definitely good to mention experience that shows one's personality. And to not forget to mention off-the-job activities so that the recruiter has the opportunity to get to know the person from a human point of view. Everything says something about you and can play to your advantage, whether it's playing board games or an extended stay abroad. From all this, we can read whether the candidate has a team spirit, a desire to explore and learn new things, what role in the team they naturally take to, and so on. 

Finally, what would you like to say to people who are interested in applying to Applifting?

Almost every month, we organize a meetup, and if a candidate wants to learn more about how we work and operate, it's great to attend. Other than learning important information, it's also a chance to talk to a recruiter or Applifters themselves, who often attend the events. I simply recommend experiencing Applifting for yourself.

Want to know more about working at Applifting? Check out our Careers website.

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