Tough economic times has meant the job market is now flooded with job vacancies attracting dozens if not hundreds of applications. With tougher competition comes a greater need to stand out from the crowd with a winning CV and a great interview technique.
Your CV demonstrates why you are the one person an employer needs. To have the most impact, it should be rewritten for every job you apply for, so that it highlights the skills you have which are specific to that particular job. It should also be concise, a maximum of two A4 pages, and look uncluttered with clear headings.
All about you
One of the ways to make your CV look different is in your personality profile, which should summarise your abilities and grab the attention of the reader in four to six lines. It should contain the skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for, and could also include your strongest experience and career aims.
Don’t over sell yourself – no one likes a bragger, but don’t under sell yourself either. If you have the skills and the experience then make sure others know about it.
Work it up
The next area to focus on is your work experience section, which emphasises exactly what you would bring to the role. It should be arranged in chronological order, starting with your most recent employment. The job title should be listed, as well as the year you started and finished.
Describe the responsibilities held and the skills you learned while you were in the job, particularly those that will most help you with the job you are applying for.
If you have a long work history, then give more details for the three most recent posts you’ve held and summarise the rest.
After your work experience section, education and training qualifications should also be listed in chronological order, starting with the most recent. Go in to the most detail on the highest qualifications achieved, or the most relevant for the position you are applying for.
Round it up
Make sure you include all your contact details, with a mobile phone number if necessary, so the employer can get hold of you easily to arrange an interview. If you do decide to include an interests section, keep it short, but stress any positions of responsibility you have held outside of the workplace, or any particular skills your activities have given you that are relevant to the job.
Two references will usually be required, at least one from a previous employer. The other could be academic, if you are newer to the workforce, or a character reference if you have been out of work for a long period of time. You can either list the contact details on your CV, or state that they are available on request. It is important that these people do represent you positively, so think carefully about who they will be.
Check and check again
Before sending your CV off to a potential employer, get someone to check it for any spelling or grammatical errors. It also allows you to check that it is clear and paints a positive picture.
Include a covering letter with your application, addressing why you are applying for the position. It should be short and succinct, and could include your knowledge of the company and emphasise any areas of your CV that are particularly important. Make sure it is addressed to the person dealing with that particular job vacancy and always check the correct spelling of their name.
The next step..
Your CV has won you an interview, so you can now impress your prospective employers in person. First, do some preparation.
- Research the company by looking at their website and checking their client list, so you can demonstrate your interest in what they do.
- The questions will focus on the skills and experience you would bring to the role, so prepare positive answers to questions they are likely to ask. Read the job specification carefully, so that you can demonstrate that you possess the qualities the employer is looking for. They will ask about your previous job, and why you are now currently looking for work, so think about your answers, and don’t be negative about your previous employer.
- Prepare questions to ask about the company or more details about the role. If the interviewer does not mention the package details, don’t ask about them, as these can be discussed when you are offered the job. In some industries it may be acceptable to dress more casually, but if you’re unsure, it is always best to dress more formally for an interview. Be confident in the skills you have to offer, listen to the questions carefully and make answers clear and to the point. Remain positive throughout the interview, smiling and making eye contact with the interviewer.
Marketing yourself successfully throughout the interview should ensure you a good chance at landing the job you’re after.