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Writing a good CV

In order to write a good CV it's often helpful to begin by understanding why CV's are rejected by recruiting managers and HR departments. Try putting yourself in that manager's position, they have SCORES of CV's to wade through and invariably in this day and age LESS TIME than they'd like to shortlist applicants for interview. Therefore that person is looking for POSITIVE REASONS TO INVITE you for interview, not the other way around as this makes their lives simpler and easier. Your objective in writing your CV should be to make their decision both quick and easy for them. So how is this achieved?

How do I look?

The visual layout of your CV is very important. Even though the wording you use may be correct, if people cannot find the information they want quickly they will move on to someone else's CV. You should use plenty of 'white space' in your CV and appropriate headings and section breaks. Try and keep your sentences short and punchy and use bullet points to break up the text under section headings.

How many pages?

It is usually best to try and keep your CV to two pages of A4, unless someone specifically asks you for a longer CV. Despite the literal translation of Curriculum Vitae being, "the Story of your Life", employers do not want to know your whole life history - just enough to decide whether they should interview you or not.

What information should I include?

This is a subjective point and opinions differ. Generally at Employment Enjoyment we feel a good CV should replicate the following points and order:

Your personal details - include name, address, multiple phone numbers, email address, marital status, nationality and whether you have a clean driving licence and your own transport.

Profile - This should be a short summary of your experience, skills and abilities. No more than six lines long you should concentrate on those attributes that will be of interest to your next employer. If you have industry qualifications mention them very briefly as often employers are looking for keywords on CV's and their eye will be drawn to 'prized' qualifications very quickly.

Achievements - Remember that employers want to know what you can bring to their organisation. The most explicit way to do this is to point out where you've already added value to other organisations. Start with the strongest point in your favour and perhaps make achievements lower down the order more diverse in subject matter to highlight your adaptability and willingness to go the extra mile!

Experience - Many people do not include enough details about their previous jobs and experience. The real meat in the CV from a prospective employer's point of view is your previous experience. If the firms you have worked for previously are not household names always include a short sentence on the type of organisation, the industry sector or principal line of business the firm is in. The company name may be very familiar to you, particularly if you have worked there many years but may not be to the reader of your CV. Explain in detail the main aspects of your role within the organisation but try not to make it sound too much like an account of each working day. It's helpful to explain how your own role interacts with those of your colleagues so employers can get a good handle of the level at which you work.

Education, Qualifications and Training - You need to take a view on how to present your qualifications. If you are a graduate you may choose not to list your 'O' Levels/GCSEs, preferring just to indicate the number gained but if your grades were outstanding there's no harm at all in shouting about them. If you're not a graduate its best to include information on the qualifications you have got unless you feel your work history negates the need. Make sure you indicate the names of the schools, colleges and universities you've studied at, when you studied and the title and grade of any degree you studied. Any industry specific qualifications are very important to mention unless they no longer figure in your career plans. Training courses should also be highlighted but only if they are relevant for the type of role you are applying for.

Interests - In recent years there has been a trend to omit this section but we feel it is important to give a potential employer a feel for the type of person you are and your hobbies and interests are a good way to do this. In addition several of our clients specifically look in this section for evidence of team engagement so if you play a team sport or have another social hobby let the employer know!

Speling, mistipes and 'dodgy' Grammar

Your CV should be carefully checked for such errors before you send it to us. Tiny errors in your CV can detract from an otherwise good CV and make you look lazy or careless - not the sort of qualities you want to portray to an employer. As you will probably be 'blind' to these errors you could ask someone else to check your CV for grammar and spelling errors.

Interview Tips

Before the Interview

Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well. Here are some tips on interview preparation:

  • Your Employment Enjoyment consultant will have provided you with a detailed understanding of the position, description, the team environment and the organisation. If you have any questions on anything prior to the interview make sure you contact your consultant.
  • Conduct additional research regarding the organisation through reading annual reports and researching on the Internet. Understand its products/services, size, locations, financial situation and growth potential.
  • Make sure you know exactly where you're going and always be on time.
  • Dress conservatively and pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming.
  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and the correct pronunciation and his/her title.
  • Spend 30 minutes reviewing your CV and experience and its relevance to the position you're interviewing for. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the position and demonstrate your ability to do the job.
  • Refresh your memory regarding details of present and past employers and your work history in their companies. You will be expected to know a lot about a company for which you have previously worked. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements.
  • Be prepared to convey to the interviewer: why this role appeals to you, why they should consider you for this role and what makes you a bit different from other candidates.
  • Prepare the questions YOU will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a two-way conversation. The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek. Your consultant will supply you with likely questions the employer might ask you and give guidance on the correct way to respond as part of your interview preparation. The preparation will also include ideas on the types of question you might consider asking.

Your Style and Behaviour

During your interview, the employer will be evaluating your total performance, not just your answers. Listed below are some factors and mannerisms that will usually produce a positive reaction from a prospective employer.

1 Interested, balanced approach
2 Ability to express thoughts clearly
3 Career planning and objectives
4 Confidence
5 Informative replies
6 Tact, maturity, courtesy
7 Maintenance of eye contact
8 Firm handshake
9 Intelligent questions about the job
10 Preparation and knowledge of the company/industry
11 Enthusiasm for the role and the organisation
12 Positive, 'can-do' attitude

General Tips

Do:

  • Plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
  • Greet the interviewer by his/her first name.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker.
  • Smile!
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Follow the interviewer's leads but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
  • Use proof - If you are using past projects to illustrate your skills and strengths, take along evidence in the form of end products or visuals, finished documents or photos. Most people can talk a good game, so this is an opportunity to show what you are capable of.
  • Make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make him/her realise the need for you in his/her organisation.
  • Think smart! You've done the research, use it! Clever questions based on solid research will show that you genuinely want the job. Remember, the interview should be two-way traffic, it's your opportunity to find out about them, ask questions and be interested.
  • Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.

Don't:

  • Answer questions with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself which relate to the position.
  • Lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible.
  • Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.
  • 'Over-answer' questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this can be ticklish, it is best to answer the questions honestly, trying not to say more than is necessary.
  • Let your discouragement show. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don't show discouragement or alarm. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
  • Enquire about salary, bonuses or holidays at the first interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first However, you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.

Closing the Interview

  • If you are interested in the position, make sure you tell the interviewer that this is the case.
  • Ask the interviewer if, at this stage they have any reservations about your ability to do the job. If they have reservations and you don't ask you risk walking away with doubts lodged in the interviewers mind. It may be that when you ask this question the interviewer cites a reservation that on further analysis isn't a problem to you at all and is a misunderstanding on their part. Interviewers are human too and mistakes do happen!
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you. You have done all you can if you have answered the two questions uppermost in his/her mind:
  • Why are you interested in the job and the company?
  • What can you offer and can you do the job?

After the Interview

Last but not least, call the consultant at Employment Enjoyment who referred you to the position immediately after the interview and describe how you feel it went. He/she will want to talk with you before the interviewer calls and will appreciate the courtesy of your feedback. If you are interested in progressing further it will assist if your feelings towards the position are known, together with your perception of what the client's reaction is likely to be.

Competency Based Interviews

Competency based interviews are a widely utilised style of interviewing. Competency based interviewing, also known as behavioural interviewing, requires you to draw on past experience and describe specific examples of incidents that demonstrate your competence in a particular area. The most effective way of answering these questions is to use the 'STAR' technique:

SITUATION briefly describe the background to the situation
TASK specifically describe your responsibility
ACTION describe what you did
RESULT describe the outcome of your actions.

Here is an excellent answer to a competency-based question that is testing teamwork as a competence:

Question:
"Team work is very important in our organisation. What evidence do you have to prove that you are a good team player?"

Answer:
"I have a number of examples I could share with you. In one instance, when I was working as a financial analyst at ABC Company, the sales team were putting together a bid for a large piece of work and the analyst that normally helps them was on leave. I offered to help them and worked late every night for two weeks to ensure they had all the information they needed. They took on my suggestions regarding pricing and also some creative ideas I had on formatting the proposal. As it turned out we won the bid and I was promoted as a result."




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