'I can't see past spelling mistakes on CVs - it's a simple way to cost yourself a job'

Jobs.ie general manager Chris Paye also talks about the dangers of duvet days.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

SINCE IT WAS founded almost two decades ago, Jobs.ie has grown into a popular website in the competitive world of online recruitment.

According to figures provided by the company, each of the thousands of jobs advertised on the site at any one time receives on average of more than 30 applications from individual candidates.

As well as providing a place for firms to advertise vacancies, Jobs.ie is also known for producing numerous industry reports throughout the year on the current state of the employment market.

As part of our weekly question-and-answer series, we spoke to Jobs.ie general manager Chris Paye about why chef Donal Skehan would be his dream hire, how spelling mistakes in CVs are unforgivable and the dangers of duvet days.

Here’s what he had to say:

Chris Paye. Picture by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic Jobs.ie general manager Chris Paye
Source: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

What was your earliest or childhood ambition?

Definitely to play football for Dublin – it was all I cared about as a child. I played three or four times a week at different age groups and got to play as far as under-15s level for the Dubs.

The last thing on my mind was managing a business. I’ve often thought about the level of motivation I had a youngster. I think at some stage it transferred to my professional life.

I still have a kick-about with the lads. I’m a firm believer in keeping relatively fit and healthy.

On average, what time do you start work in the morning and what time do you clock off?

I’m an early-riser and always have been. I used to get in at 7.45am, maybe a bit earlier. Now that I have a one-month-old baby, it’s a little bit more difficult to get out the door in the morning.

I still get in at about 8am. I have a list of things to do and won’t leave ’till I get them done. While I’m in the office, I try to take at least 45 minutes every lunchtime to go out for a walk. I think I’m more productive in the afternoon if I’ve had some fresh air.

I’ll do my best to be out of here by 6.30pm at the latest to get home and refresh for the next day.

What’s the worst job/task you’ve ever had to do? 

During my college days, I worked in the cinema in Dundrum. Unfortunately, a young child got sick one time. That wasn’t very nice for the rest of the patrons – or for me who drew the short straw and had to clean it up.

Having said that, I’m dealing with a lot worse on a daily basis now and it’s happening constantly. Maybe it was just good practice for the baby.

What has been your biggest mistake to date and what did you learn from it?

About 10 years ago, I won a duvet day as part of a sales incentive, so I could call in any day I liked to say I wasn’t coming in to work.

I picked the last day of the month – definitely not an ideal day. It was bad timing because of the pressure that you can put on colleagues by deciding you want an extra hour in bed or some time off.

It really got me thinking about how much a small action like that can affect my colleagues, who were put under pressure to deliver higher sales volumes because I wasn’t there. I actually tell that story to lot of new employees.

What’s the one work skill you wish you had?

I wish I had a second language – not French or Spanish or anything like that – but IT development.

I obviously work in an e-recruitment platform, so I have a basic understanding of what impact a development change might have and how the end result will look.

So I always know what results are going to be delivered, but one area I’d love to develop is gaining an insight into how that’s done.

If there was one person in the world you could hire, who would it be and why?

Donal Skehan. I watch his five-minute, healthy prep on TV sometimes.

Work-life balance is important. If I could hire a professional chef to come in and motivate the Jobs.ie sales and IT teams with poached eggs and avocado in the morning, perfectly cooked by Donal Skehan, I think I’d get a lot from that.

I can see the benefit to having a young, energetic person like him in the office, and he clearly has a good business head on his shoulders given all he’s done.

90340825_90340825 Donal Skehan
Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

What bad work (or business) habit have you had to kick?

I would imagine a lot of staff would say I should kick my cheesy humour, but I think that’s positive.

I just find sometimes in a workplace environment it can get very stiff and I just can’t help myself sometimes. Maybe it’s a habit I need to kick, but I still quite enjoy it so it probably won’t happen.

What’s one thing that would put you off hiring someone? 

For me, it’s a really simple thing that still baffles me when I see it: spelling mistakes on CVs – it’s a simple way to not get yourself a job or interview.

If you’re not willing to spend a little extra time ensuring your CV is correct and doesn’t have any spelling or grammar errors, that’s a red flag for me.

We all make mistakes when we’re typing. One tip someone taught me a long time ago was to read it backwards – the sentences and words that don’t make sense will stand out.

Then just hand the CV to your friend, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister and ask them to have a look over it.

If I see one spelling mistake, I’ll probably forgive it and question them in the interview. If I saw two or three on it, I think I’d struggle to see past it. It’s a sloppy error that you should be able to avoid pretty easily.

I’ve been in this industry 11 years now and have spoken to a lot of clients. You get the same thing back that the CV needs to make you stand out. If the glaring thing on your CV is a spelling mistake, then they’re going to forget about everything else.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

I’d definitely tell him to just relax. I think teenagers put too much pressure on themselves. I know I did. It’s not important to be the smartest, the funniest or the most popular. Although when you’re 15, 16, 17, it definitely feels like it is.

If I could go back 20 years now, I’d definitely be saying that it’s important that you try to find happiness. As corny as it sounds, happiness is a bit different for each person.

Who is your business hero?

I’m a huge fan of Bobby Kerr. I think of all the qualities a business leader should possess, one of them should be fairness. I’ve heard Bobby speak numerous times and heard it from other people that he comes across as an exceptionally fair person.

Forgetting everything he’s done in the business world – and he’s done a lot – I just think that quality that he shows is one of the reasons he was so successful. It’s something every business leader should aspire to.

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