What is a hook?
The word "hook" comes from the marketing industry and refers to a short text designed to draw the customer's attention. In other words, it is a type of slogan, but a slogan for a very special product…you! The purpose of a hook is to briefly describe the type of position you are seeking and to highlight your skills, strengths and unique characteristics.
Before you start writing your hook, imagine yourself in the shoes of a recruiter who receives dozens of CVs. By putting the essential information on the top of the page — like a title — you make the recruiter's job easier, and your application is more likely to be considered. A hook is particularly useful in a CV, as it allows you to tailor your application to a specific position by summarizing your key skills.
Rules of thumb
Indicate your profession and/or skills
Keep it to 5-10 words long, using title format
Use a normal font size (it is neither necessary nor recommended to use another font, size or color than that used for your name and the rest of your CV)
Relevant, concise, precise
Writing an effective hook
Everyone has their own method and – most importantly – each job application calls for a different hook. Always keep in mind the purpose of a hook: to grab the attention of recruiters so they read your CV. It is crucial to adapt the hook to each job application, whether it is a speculative application or a response to an ad. In just a few words, the hook should explain what you are "selling", what you can bring to the company.
It should state your profession or the job title you are applying for and include information about your personal expertise. You should avoid using adjectives that are too general or clichéd such as "motivated", "dynamic" or "skilled". Opt for concrete information. The point is to be concise, so do not list all of your skills. Instead, focus on your strengths that best match the job description or position sought. The hook should consist of factual information, not value judgments.
The hook in a speculative application
A simple and effective hook might consist of your job title and two key elements. Don't stretch the truth, the recruiter will notice it when reading your CV. A speculative application is generally addressed to a company where you would like to work. Therefore, it would be wise to look up the company's website before applying to have a better idea of what their business is and what vocabulary they use. How do the company's goals coincide with yours? What do you have in common? What aspects of your professional experience match their activities? The point is to reassure the recruiter and grab his or her attention immediately.
If you are targeting an international company
Administrative assistant with experience in accounting/ French – German – English
If you are a skilled worker, give additional information about your personal qualities
House Painter with CFC diploma, meticulous work
Head Waiter—preparing the tables and serving—positive attitude and discreet
If you have worked in a specialized field
Head of Communication—medical field—available immediately
Purchasing/ negotiations/ merchandise management and control/ food industry
The hook in an application responding to an ad
If you are responding to a particular job ad, the recruiter will want to know if you meet the criteria specified. The few words you choose for the hook should reassure them that you do meet their criteria. If your profile fully matches the job description, you can use one or two keywords from the ad. But don’t say things just to impress – your hook has to be consistent with the rest of your CV.
A company is seeking a part-time (80%) bookkeeper with experience in a legal department (calls to clients, payment arrangements, legal procedures, etc.), significant knowledge in accounting (federal certification is not necessary) and a good command of French. The following qualities are required: good interpersonal skills, attention to detail and the ability to carefully follow procedures. Your hook for this position could be as follows:
- Bookkeeper with 3 years experience in litigation
(remember to elaborate on the skills developed through this experience in the rest of your CV)
In other words, your hook should set the tone and show the recruiter you have carefully read the job description and thought about the position before sending in your application. It should encourage the recruiter to look for additional information in the rest of your CV.
- Choose words similar to those used in the job description or by the company (for example, "salesperson" rather than "sales representative").
- Mention the strengths that make you a good candidate for the job (available immediately, trilingual, expert in a particular field, proficient with a particular software, mobile, etc.)
- Highlight your personal qualities that are important for the position (meticulous, result-oriented, conscientious, etc.)
- Emphasize the parts of your CV that best fit the needs of the employer. To do so, it is crucial to learn about the company.