One of the main reasons we find people want to work in the housing sector (and one that’s huge for us too) is the desire to help people. Because fundamentally that’s what you’ll do - no matter what role you step into, from construction to customer service - you’ll be making a difference in people's lives.
Sitting down to write a CV for any sector is daunting, but here’s our lightbulb moment: your CV isn’t about your experience as much as it’s about you.
Even if you only have a couple of things to write about - even if you just have one - it’s about how that experience has shaped you that counts. And when you think of it in those terms, it’s not so scary. Our advice for writing a CV for the housing sector? Tailor your CV to your personality, adapt for your dream role and perfect it with our top tips below.
Why consider a job in housing?
It’s a great sector to get into for so many reasons, but the first is that the skills needed are incredibly transferable. Another reason - and it’s a biggy - is we find people want to work in the housing sector (and one that’s huge for us too) is the desire to help people. Because fundamentally that’s what you’ll do - no matter what role you step into, from construction to customer service - you’ll be making a difference in people's lives.
With more and more companies putting the focus on employee wellbeing and a career social housing (in particular) offering a range of benefits, the housing sector is a great community to be a part of! Already sold?
Companies are less interested in what you’ve done in the past, and more interested in you now.
More and more we’re seeing value-based recruitment take precedent over experience in the housing sector. Companies are less interested in what you’ve done in the past, and more interested in you now.
In other words, whether your current values align with theirs and if you’d be a good fit for their community.
But we bet you’ve heard this a lot, right? So what do ‘company values’ actually mean?
We recently interviewed the lovely Emily from United Welsh and she put it so well:
“We recruit to fit with our culture, engaging people who wish to contribute positively - it’s as simple as that. We celebrate our differences and work hard to attract people with the right motivations based on respect and trust.”
And Jenny from Newport City Homes had this to say: “Their values all centre around trust, inclusion and collaboration. But they aren’t just empty words, they actually live out those values. For example, they involve customers - their community - in so many decisions, including the actual process of realigning their values.”
Values will obviously vary by company, but that transparency is crucial in making sure the company is the right fit for you. Afterall, you’re not going to thrive somewhere if your core values clash! A good career is something to settle into for the long haul, a community to really feel comfortable in, and value-based recruiting really helps the company (and you) attract the right candidates.
How to write your CV for a job in the housing sector.
Let’s break it down shall we? Writing your CV doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect; our handy checklist will put you on the right track. But remember, what we said before, your CV is about you, so don’t leave your personality out. You’re the USP.
List your achievements, not your responsibilities.
Phrasing is key! You’re not advertising your previous job role and they’re not interested in what you were hired to do. They’re interested in how you excelled in that role, how you took those responsibilities and learnt from them, how you grew from that role. That growth is what will make you stand out.
Consider your CV structure.
You’ll want to make your CV as easy to navigate as possible, so keep it chronological. You should make your work experience the main focus of the page, busy hiring managers don’t have time to hunt for the information they need, so make it easy for them. They’ll love you for it!
Use clear headings.
Clear headings are super important for the same reasons as above; they’ll make important information easy to pick out for someone scanning the page.
Keep it to two pages.
Less is more! We don’t mean to bang on about these busy hiring managers, but they really are super busy. Condense your CV down to the most relevant information and try to make it fit on two pages, or one if you like a challenge! A good rule of thumb is, if you’re not going to talk about it in the interview, you probably don’t need to put it on your CV.
Show that your values are aligned.
Remember the brand values we talked about earlier? You need to identify what those are for the company you’re applying to, and tell them how well they fit with your own! Bonus points if you can give examples of these values in action in your previous roles.
What do the experts think?
We asked two of Wales’ top HR experts in the housing industry for their thoughts on what makes a cracking CV.
What do you look for in a CV?
‘A CV is your first insight into the candidate so it has to contain relevant information relating to the role. For more technical roles, specific qualifications are a good indicator of what knowledge a candidate may have (having these listed clearly in chronological order is always helpful). In addition, a summary of their experience and responsibilities to date, must be succinct and contain key words and information relevant to the role (bullet points is best).
‘A CV gives very little information about the candidate’s attributes so a cover letter or very short statement at the beginning of the CV is an opportunity for them to express more information i.e. career goals, what they are passionate about in terms of their work. I think in general the CV outlines their career journey and so indicators of growth and development or evidence of continued professional development is also positive. Lastly – structure and grammar of the CV is important – there are so many free tools and examples available that there’s no excuse for a poorly structured CV with spelling mistakes!’
What advice would you give to people currently working in the private sector when applying for roles with your organisation e.g. communicating their values, indicating their transferable skills etc.
‘If someone has only ever worked in one sector or organisation and are looking to move, regardless of the sector or organisation they go to, they must be prepared to learn about the culture and practices of the new organisation and be willing to be flexible in their own approach to working. This doesn’t mean they can’t bring new ideas or a fresh perspective, it's just appreciating that the processes and environment they are used to may be different.
‘As well as providing good quality homes, the Social Housing sector often does a lot to enrich the lives of tenants, endorsing and supporting thriving communities. If potential candidates can demonstrate how their skills and experience can contribute to that general ethos as well as the role in question, that would be a good place to start.’
What do you look for in a CV?
‘In all honesty, when recruiting, we tend to use application forms as this has targeted questions, but when we are looking at CVs, we do tend to look for experience and transferable skills. We also look for a personal statement that really demonstrates the values, behaviours and attitudes of our organisation. It’s also useful to adapt it around the person specification if possible in the job description as this helps evidence their suitability for the role.’
What advice would you give to people currently working in the private sector when applying for roles with your organisation e.g. communicating their values, indicating their transferable skills?
‘If possible, try to gain some work experience in the sector as this gives real life exposure and also shows that the person is keen to work for the organisation/sector. We have offered work placements and volunteering for people who may want a flavour of certain roles with the opportunities to shadow and get a real feel for the culture of that organisation.
Communicating values is definitely key, I would always advise looking at the company website to see what their values are (or in a job description) and it’s giving real life examples that link to those values, for example one of ours is Learning which can be applied to so many different scenarios. Also indicating transferrable skills is really important as this can bolster answers if getting experience isn’t an option, it could be examples of times when you’ve gone above and beyond to help customers, excellent communication skills, analytical skills, empathy, creative, willingness to learn and great people skills are highly suited skills and traits in the Housing Sector.’
Summary: the key dos and don’ts of housing CVs
- …your research & tailor your CV to the company and role you’re applying for.
- Keep it short, cut out any experience that isn’t relevant to the role.
- Structure it clearly with plenty of white space, keeping it friendly for even the busiest eyes!
- Just list what you’ve done in the past, tell them how the experience contributed to your growth
- List everything you’ve ever done, if you’re not going to talk about it in the interview, cut it!
- Doubt yourself: research shows that a huge amount of potential applicants count themselves out after reading specs in a job listing. Don’t be that statistic, you’ve got this!
Need help perfecting your housing CV? That’s where we come in.
Drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you polish that CV until it really shines!
At Moxie we will guide you through every stage of the recruitment and application process… because you know way back at the beginning of this blog, when we said we loved to help change people’s lives. We really meant it.